Things to Do

5 Fun Ways to Explore the Hill Country

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I moved to Austin last year and wasted little time bringing what I love to do to Texas Hill Country. I found that what I loved to do allowed me to quickly explore the Hill Country, meet people, and get the lay of the land. So, if you are looking for a great way to get outside, enjoy the sun, and discover or rediscover the beauty of Texas Hill Country, read on.

Road Biking

Road Biking

Photo: www.icebike.org

I love being a roadie. My first purchase last year for my birthday was a new custom built bike that fit me. And I’m happy to say it fits me like a glove. No longer am I in pain as I explore San Marcos (the gateway to Hill Country) and Circle C. I prefer the San Marcos area as they have a great group of bikers (San Marcos Cycling Friends) which ride every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This group starts out in the parking lot of a really great coffee shop that they like to hang out in called Mocha and Java, I highly recommend the local brew shop myself). What I like about this ride is that it can vary in length from 15 to 22 to 40 plus miles in the soft rolling hills of San Marcos and New Braunfels.

GeoCaching

Geocaching

Photo: www.livefortheoutdoors.com

GeoCaching is a world wide scavenger hunt which you can play in any city, park, or country side. It is through geocaching that I discovered the coolest Texas State Parks in Hill Country, like Pedernales State Park and Purgatory Natural Preserve in San Marcos, and GeoTours in Kyle. GeoTours and Earth Caches take you to unique places in the area where not only do you learn about the park or earth or river, but also the history. It is my excuse to go hiking with a purpose and rediscover activities I haven’t done in a long time — like Mountain Biking.

Moutain Biking

Mountain Biking

Photo: Ride Like A Girl Austin

While I was busy hunting treasure in Purgatory, I discovered that not only can you hike in this beautiful little area, but you could also get on your bike and ride. The trails are not really beginner trails in this part of Hill Country and all the rain has most paths pretty overgrown, but it’s easier to bike the trails than hike them in search of caches. If you’ve been mountain biking a while, these bike trails are sure to challenge you as they start in the intermediate range and get pretty technical for a more advance ride — should that be where your current skill set is. If you are starting again after a long absence, you may end up walking more that riding this set of trails, but never fear. I have discovered several beginner trails in Dick Nichols and Walnut Creek. If you are unsure of where your skill set lies, check out Ride Like a Girl (if well,you’re a girl) or Austin Mountain Bike (if you a girl or a guy).

Tubing

San Marcos Tubing

Photo: texashighways.com

It seems to be a theme for me, but once again I find myself exploring the San Marcos area. Thanks to some friends I was talked into tubing one Sunday afternoon on the San Marcos river. It was just after several weeks of rain and we had a grand time white water rafting our tubes from beginning to end. A lot of sun and not too hot day with lots of laughter. If you like the cool water and just lounging in the stream, I highly recommend checking out this river for a different view of Hill Country. If you are hungry after there are lots of options (some new like 54th Street Restaurant & Drafthouse) to choose from. I like 54th because they have a large selection of food to choose from and if you’re into beer, there’s lots of that to choose from too.

Hiking

McKinney Falls

Photo: Cynthia Spurr

Thanks to another friend who declared 2016 as the Year of the Texas State Park, I have visited a lot of state parks in and outside of Hill Country. We have checked out the easy to moderate trails of Pedernales State Park to a local beauty in McKinney Falls to a far flung hike and cave crawling in Colorado Bend. I have driven through the mountainous areas in full on thunderstorm mode and the flatter areas in high sun. It is beautiful country any way you see it. The hikes have trained me to be better prepared, get back into shape, but most of all see Texas Hill Country in a way people may take for granted as time goes on.

So go be a visitor and get out and enjoy the sun — before the next heat wave has you ducking for an air conditioned building.