The Creekside Trail at Doeskin Ranch in the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge meanders alongside and through a creek. Photo by Jennifer Greenwell

Walk the Highland Lakes on Burnet County Hiking Trails

Burnet County hiking trails are some of the best in the Texas Hill Country and May is a great month to enjoy them. Trees are still green, creeks are probably still running, and the summer heat usually has not quite set in. Burnet County is home to two state parks, a national wildlife refuge, and a variety of parks maintained by the Lower Colorado River Authority, the entity in charge of the six Highland Lakes and dams. Together, they add up to miles and miles of Texas hiking.

Hikers can trek over granite outcroppings, through wooded areas, and skirt the lake’s shoreline at Inks Lake State Park. The flora and fauna of Inks Lake is hard to top. Leashed pets are welcome at the park.

Longhorn Cavern State Park promises an adventure, above and below ground. Steeped in history, Longhorn Cavern offers guided tours below the surface and an amazing gift shop above ground. Also on the surface are great trails for beginning hikers. Fees are only charged for cavern tours. The trails and picnic areas are free. Dogs on leashes are welcome above ground.

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, which is in both Burnet and Travis counties, offers hikers miles of pristine wilderness trails that meander through rugged canyons, grassland prairies, woodlands, and creeks. The refuge provides a sanctuary to many types of wildlife such as the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler. Due to the sensitive nature of the wildlife refuge, pets are not allowed.

LCRA parks in Burnet County that are hiking favorites include Black Rock Park and Canyon of the Eagles, both on Lake Buchanan, as well as Muleshoe Bend and Grelle recreation areas, both located in Spicewood on Lake Travis. During wildflower season, spectacular displays of bluebonnets and other wildflowers are often seen at Muleshoe Bend. Leashed pets are welcome at LCRA parks.

Some of the parks offer overnight camping or even RV hookups, but visitors can also stay in Burnet County resorts and lodges for easy access to to the flora and fauna of the Highland Lakes.

NOTE: As of May 7, 2020, Black Rock Park, Canyon of the Eagles, Muleshoe Bend, and Grelle are all closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. State parks and the national wildlife refuge are open for day use. All of the parks are expected to fully open this summer.

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