Eight of our Favorite Hidden Gems in Austin
Austin is full of fun things to do outdoors and now that we’ve covered the nearby state parks and best dog parks around town, we wanted to research some of Austin’s best secret spots that you may be missing out on. Check out eight of our favorite secret places and share your favorites with us!
Literally named “Secret Beach,” this spot is unknown to most Austinites because it’s off the beaten path away from the touristy part of the Colorado River. Although Secret Beach is like Lady Bird Lake in that it is illegal to swim in the water, it is still an awesome place to relax and enjoy a public beach within Austin’s city limits. It can be accessed through the Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park located at 400 Grove Blvd.
Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
The Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve may be less of a secret but is still wildly underrated. The trails are accessible from sunrise to sunset and the entrance to the preserve is just about a mile north of Bee Caves Rd along the east side of 360. Check out this interactive map to help you navigate to the waterfall!
This small pocket park is in the heart of Austin on the edge of the Hyde Park neighborhood and was created through the efforts and vision of members in the neighborhood. Located at 3701 Grooms St, Sparky Park got its name from its history as an old electrical substation. This is the perfect place to check out if you’re looking for a hidden gem but may be less interested in hiking trails.
Mayfield Park was an estate presented to the city of Austin in 1971 and hosts a historic cottage along with 2 acres of gardens with peacocks. The estate and park are located near Mount Bonnell and Westwood Country Club. Although there are nice wooded trails and gardens, word on the street is to go for the peacocks!
Caves at Campbell’s Hole
Most people don’t know that the Greenbelt is decorated with hidden caves along the rocky walls. While most caves are dark and cavernous, some caves have beautiful views like this one at Campbell’s Hole. To get to this cave pictured above, use The Greenbelt entrance on Spyglass, walk down the hill, and turn left. Once you see The Flats or an open clearing off the trail, cross the creek at the shallow end (before it becomes rocky) then follow The Flats towards the northeast corner of the watering hole and start the climb up to the cave. If you turn east and hug the side of the wall, there is another, smaller cave, but it is more cavernous without a view. Always be careful when climbing on rocks or approaching a cave that’s dark. You never know what (or who!) might be sleeping in there.
Twin Falls is more well known compared to some of these other spots but is tucked away off the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail and is worth the trip. It is one of the area’s swimming holes and although it’s less popular than Hamilton Pool and Barton Springs you will not want to miss it!
Similar to Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls is one of the awesome swimming holes in Austin that you don’t want to overlook. It is also located off of the Barton Creek Greenbelt west of Twin Falls and is a great spot for fun in the water.
Located in the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Airmen’s Cave is by far the most secret spot in Austin known for its tight passages and long crawls. In 2007, the city underwent a major rescue effort to retrieve three students who got lost in the cave after being underground for 30 hours. Due to safety risks the cave was closed off with a security gate in 2012. Today it is just another fun place to explore along The Greenbelt without worrying about getting lost or feeling claustrophobic.
What is your favorite Hidden Gem in Austin? Share in the comments below!