Austin, Texas, sits in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, a ruggedly beautiful landscape. With bright blue Texas skies meeting rolling green hills and serene waterways, the Hill Country is a popular area to take a scenic drive and enjoy the views. You will also want to stop at many notable regions while exploring the Hill Country near Austin.
Closest to Austin is Mount Bonnell, the tallest point in Austin at 785 feet above sea level. Mount Bonnell sits inside the Austin city limits and is just off a major road. Yet tucked away on a quiet residential street, you would probably miss it if you didn't know it was there. With a short but steep hike up to the top of Mount Bonnell, you can enjoy panoramic views of the famous Pennybacker or 360 Bridge and the downtown Austin skyline. While a steep drop-off is not cordoned off, the area remains a popular spot for families to enjoy a scenic picnic and for lovebirds to watch the sunset.
Take a short drive west of Austin to the often-overlooked Hamilton Pool. Hamilton Pool is a gorgeous natural pool perfect for swimming and sunbathing in the warm summer. This pool has been thousands of years in the making, created by years of erosion by a creek streaming into a collapsed cave. The collection is a large, oval shape filled with clear, turquoise waters surrounded by a beach area and cliffs. It would be best to take a short but beautiful walk on a shaded trail to reach the pool.
Then, drive about forty-five minutes to an hour west to reach the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, established by our former First Lady to promote the conservation of natural areas. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers picnic areas, nature trails, themed gardens, open meadows, and more. You can find thousands of native wildflowers and other plants at the Wildflower Center.
Just a short drive from the Wildflower Center sits Pedernales Falls State Park. The Pedernales Falls State Park features two distinct sections of the beautiful Pedernales River. One area offers a beach area famous for swimming, sunbathing, and tubing. The other site allows for hiking and exploring around a section of the river with far more turbulent rapids. This area is off-limits for swimming.
Finally, head to the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, famous for hiking, climbing, and camping on and around a 425 granite dome. You can take a moderately strenuous hike to the top of the Rock for lovely views of the Hill Country, hike around the base of the Rock, or rock climb on several other granite outcroppings in the area. Enchanted Rock is a sight, with this massive Rock sitting boldly against the rugged landscape.
Have a great time exploring the Texas Hill Country on your trip to Austin, Texas!