Tips and Trails: Hiking Around Waco


When we moved to Waco from Virginia in 2015, I immediately missed the mountains and hiking. To my surprise, Waco has an abundance of trails for beginners and avid hikers alike. There’s something for everyone!

Our favorite thing to do while hiking is to search for a new bug, bird, animal, or plant we’ve never seen before. We’ll take a picture, upload it to the iNaturalist app, and identify our find. We get great exercise and learn something new too!

Being a Park Ranger, I would be remiss if I did not mention safety precautions while hiking:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Use bug spray and wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Always stay on trails so you don’t get lost.
  • Remember to leave wildflowers alone. They look pretty but they belong to pollinators!  

These are some of our favorite places and hikes we have enjoyed for the past four years and even still with an 8-month-old on our backs. 

Cameron Park

Bring up hiking and trails in Waco and Cameron Park is likely the first place locals will tell you about. Cameron Park offers so many recreational opportunities in addition to hiking – disc golf, splash pads, workout stations, mountain biking, and even horseback riding.

Twenty miles of trails range from easy to expert level. The City of Waco even provides a map of trails and lists difficulty levels. They even put the trails on Google Maps. For an easy walk, we like to stroll along the River Trail which runs along the Brazos River.

For a challenging hike, we will park at the McLennan Community College boat ramp, get on the River Trail to the right of the ramp if you are looking at the river, connect to the Highlander Trail, follow it all the way around and take a left onto Hale Bopp, then link back up with the River Trail to head back to the car.

Mother Neff State Park

Two bucks pays your way into our closest state park and kids 12 and under get in free. Visit this small but neat park for neat trails and a good little hike. The park map is very helpful for finding your way around.

Our favorite route starts with parking at the Wash Pond. Head north on the Wash Pond Trail and link up with the Tower Trail, follow that to the Cave Trail and visit Tonkawa Cave. Double back on the Cave Trail to reconnect with the other part of the Wash Pond Trail to get back to the parking lot.

Waco Mammoth National Monument

Full disclosure: The Eagle Trail at Waco Mammoth might be my favorite trail in all of Waco. I walk it almost everyday at work! I’m a little biased, but this short and sweet trail is great for beginners who just need a little fresh air or for little legs that may be learning to hike.

The park is open seven days a week from 9 AM – 5 PM. Visit the Welcome Center, get directions to the trail, and pick up a park map to take with you. Count how many different wildflowers you see blooming right now in the park!

FYI: Most people who visit Waco Mammoth go on a guided tour of the dig site. A small tour fee does apply for the tour if you choose to do that, but just checking out the trails is completely free!

Lake Waco Wetlands

Did you know Lake Waco Wetlands processes 11 million gallons of water per day? Not only does it serve an important function for our community, there’s also tons of wildlife to see. Visitors can hike around the grounds even when the Research and Education Center isn’t open.

Trails start down the path from the building. Be sure to read the signage with trail maps so you know where you’re going. You can make your hike long or short depending on how far you want to go. See if you can spot a Great Blue Heron or Green Tree Frog while you’re there!

Where are your favorite hiking spots around Waco?