7 of Our Favorite Hiking Trails in the Waco, TX Area

June 26th, 2020 by

A closeup is shown of two people hiking on a trail near Waco, TX.

There are many things to love about working and living in the Waco, TX area: incredible food, amazing people, and some of the most gorgeous scenery you could ask for. Here at Frank Kent Country, we are all huge fans of this part of Texas, especially when a day rolls around where you feel a bit stir crazy and need to get out and go for a walk. Whether you want to feel at one with nature or have a pleasant stroll in the city, there are some great hiking trails and paths in and near Waco for any occasion.

We asked around the dealership the other day about what people had been doing lately to stay sane and find ways to enjoy themselves. Hiking was one of the main answers we heard, and that got us wondering which trails and parks our employees liked to head to on the weekend. After numerous conversations, and a few friendly arguments, we found certain answers came up again and again, and we thought it would be fun to share them with you. Here, in no particular order, are some of our favorite hiking trails and paths in and around the Waco, TX area.

1 – Hale Bopp and Highlander Loop – Cameron Park

When we started asking about great local trails, this is one we heard again and again, from numerous people, in various forms. Cameron Park is definitely a favorite location for a day out doing some hiking, and there are many trails to choose from. That means it can be tricky to decide on just one (in fact, we’ll be returning to Cameron Park a couple more times in this list). That being said, the loop formed by these two trails, Hale Bopp and Highlander Loop, is definitely a winner.

Measuring only about 1.7 miles long, this is a pretty easy hike to take, which makes it a great option if you want to get out and enjoy yourself without committing the whole day to it. This is a fantastic summer trail that is pretty popular and affords some gorgeous views along the way. Although the pace you set will undoubtedly affect how long it takes, you should only expect to spend about an hour on the trail – plus, it affords some excellent opportunities for bird watching.

2 – Cotton Belt Trail in Waco

If you prefer hiking on a paved path that’s wheelchair accessible, then the Cotton Belt Trail is a terrific choice. There is also a Cotton Belt Trail near Dallas/Fort Worth, so when you look it up, make sure you search for the right one. Our Cotton Belt Trail is a concrete path that runs along an abandoned St. Louis Southwestern Railway corridor.

Running about 2.5 miles, Cotton Belt Trail is a terrific destination for a day out, especially if you have kids or others that might do better on a paved path. In fact, inline skating is typically allowed on this trail, so it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a place where you can skate and enjoy yourself. Unlike some of the other trails in this list, it’s a straight line rather than a loop, so you’ll need to plan accordingly and make sure you’re up for the whole trip.

3 – Johnnie, Twin Bridges River Trail Short Loop – Cameron Park

Our second pick in Cameron Park is another loop section that affords a gorgeous view of the river while you’re on your way. This is an unusually short loop, making it perfect for a brief outing, and it measures only about 0.7 miles in length. It consists of two short sections of trail: Johnnie and Twin Bridges River trails.

Since this is such a short loop, it’s perfect for hiking if you have kids – especially younger kids that might think they’re up for more of a hike than they are. It’s also a loop, so you don’t have to plan out how to get back to the trailhead and your vehicle. Along the way, you’ll see some lovely views of the river, and this is also a great spot for doing some bird watching.

4 – Friars Creek Hike & Bike Trail

If you’re willing to head a little south on I-35, you can go to Temple and find the South Temple Park, which marks the southern end of this trail. Friar’s Creek Hike & Bike Trail is a fantastic option if you prefer hiking on paved terrain, with concrete paths that are easy to follow and well-marked.

A lot of us here at Frank Kent Country particularly like this path because sometimes it’s nice to have a little bit of a drive before and after your hike, which works perfectly for going to and from the trailhead. This trail measures about 1.2 miles in length, so it’s ideal for part of a day out, and since it’s paved, it is both bicycle and wheelchair friendly.

5 – Lake Waco Hike & Bike Trail

Another great option closer to home, the Lake Waco Hike & Bike Trail, is a fantastic choice that takes you along the lake and is accessible for pretty much any skill level. As the name suggests, this trail is open to hiking and biking alike, plus it is quite kid-friendly due to its straight nature. This is not a loop but is a straight out-and-back trail that runs about 5.5 miles in length, so you might want to set aside a lot of your day or only tackle part of the trail at once.

Recently, part of this trail was closed for repairs, so keep that in mind and check ahead before making the trip. That being said, as long as it’s open, then this is an excellent option for families and friends looking to head out and take a nice, long walk.

6 – Waco Riverwalk

The last of our favorite paved hiking trails (at least for today) is the Waco Riverwalk, which includes several locations and sites to check out. This trail runs along the banks of the Brazos River and connects numerous downtown locations and attractions for you to visit. That makes it an excellent destination for a day out – and since it runs more than 5 miles in length, you might plan to only visit part of the trail on your first trip.

At the north end, you’ll find Cameron Park – home to many of the other trails in this list – while the southern end will take you to Baylor University Campus. Whether you are interested in visiting the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, looking for a great place to eat, or want to stick to the trail, this is a fantastic choice that gives you a lot of options to play with.

7 – River Trail, Highlander, Hale Bopp, Bat Cave, Drain Pipe, Acts of Faith, Sidewinder, California 56 – Cameron Park

This trail is even longer than its name, River Trail, Highlander, Hale Bopp, Bat Cave, Drain Pipe, Acts of Faith, Sidewinder, California 56, (if you can believe it). And it is the last of our suggested trails in Cameron Park. It consists of a number of trails all connected together, including some that appear in other routes we enjoy in Cameron Park. Taken together, this trail is nearly 6 miles long and moderate in difficulty, taking about three hours to complete, so it’s probably not a great choice for little kids. As long as you’re up for the adventure, however, this is a spectacular way to spend a day outside and bask in the natural beauty of the Waco area.

Did we forget your favorite local trail, or maybe you have one you’d like to tell us about? Visit us at Frank Kent Country to let us know how you like to spend a day out.

Posted in Local, Waco