Texas byways follow game trails, Indian trade routes, the footsteps of Spanish priests and soldiers, and overland trails used by Texas settlers. There are trails that trace the development of the Texas culture and trails that lead to the remnants of our past. Texas regional trails, wildlife trails and historic highways are waiting for you to discover.
Texas, despite what people think, has mountains, swamps, canyons, gulleys, and woodlands. I’ve traveled throughout the United States, and there are some truly beautiful drives and scenery in every region.
If you want to get out of the house and connect with nature but don’t want to hike (or be near people), check out these stunning Texas scenic byways and drives.
Camino Real de los Tejas
The Camino Real de los Tejas was designated as a National Historic Trail in 2004. Many historical routes in Texas were named camino real (King’s Highway). These reales followed prehistoric Indian trade routes from Mexico to the Mississippi and became the path for Spanish exploration and colonization in Texas.
The official website of the Camino Real de los Tejas is newly published and has information on East Texas and Louisiana sites on the road. This site will expand as the communities along the trail lend their historical knowledge and factual interpretation to the Camino Real de los Tejas.
- View a map of the missions and presidios on the Camino Real de los Tejas from the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection.
- Take a drive tour from San Antonio to San Marcos, Texas, loosely following the Camino Real de los Tejas.
We drove to Arkansas in March 2006 and followed the Camino Real del los Tejas from San Marcos to Nacogdoches, Texas.
Our trip through history–on a trail laid down by Indian traders, traversed by Spanish friars, dotted with historical plaques, lined by cemeteries and crisscrossed by rivers and streams–was amazing.
Texas Heritage Trails
The rich legacy left by our forefathers will enfold as you travel the Texas Heritage Trails. These large regional trails such as the Lakes Trail, the Independence Trail, the Brazos Trail and the Forest Trail represent the unique geographical areas in Texas.
History buffs will thrill while journeying the Forts Trail and to the many sites listed in Texas in the Civil War, among other specialty guides you may order free from the Texas Historical Society. For an overview of historical travel in Texas, please download Remember Texas (PDF).
Texas Forts Trail
Texas is dotted with Texas Republic era forts, private bastions erected by pioneer families, and several presidios from the Spanish colonial period. These fortifications defended Texas against incursions by the French, the Spanish, the Mexicans and the Indians.
After Texas joined the United States, the U.S. attempted to establish a line of forts from the Red River to El Paso. To journey from the mouth of the Rio Grande River, where Confederate blockade runners dodged the Union navy, to Fort Davis, home of the famous black Buffalo Soldiers, to the original location of Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, the first Spanish mission in Texas, you would have to crisscross miles and miles of Texas.
Luckily, Texas has the Texas Forts Trail. The Texas Forts Trail journeys to eight frontier forts built from 1848 to 1900 in west central Texas.
- Fort Belknap Newcastle, Texas 940/846-3222
- Fort Chadbourne Bronte, Texas 325/743-2555
- Fort Concho National Historic Landmark San Angelo, Texas 325/481-2646
- Fort Griffin State Historic Site Albany, Texas 915/762-3592
- Fort Mason Mason, Texas 325/347-5758
- Fort Phantom Hill Abilene, Texas 325/677-1309
- Fort McKavett State Historic Site Fort McKavett, Texas 325/396-2358
- Fort Richardson State Park and Historic Site Jacksboro, Texas 940/567-3506
Not all forts and presidios are on the official Texas Forts Trail. If you were to visit every fortification and every historic marker from the many wars in Texas, you would have to spend several years on the journey. Here is a list of other interesting fortifications in Texas.
- Fort Bliss Museum – Fort Bliss, Texas 915/568-5412
- Fort Davis National Historic Site – Fort Davis, Texas 432/426-3224
- Fort Lancaster State Historic Site – Sheffield, Texas 432/836-4391
- Fort Leaton State Historic Site – Presidio, Texas 915/229-3613
- Fort Martin Scott – Fredericksburg, Texas 830/997-9895
- Fort Sam Houston – San Antonio, Texas 210/221-1886
- Historic Fort Stockton – Fort Stockton, Texas 915/336-2400
- Old Fort Parker – Groesbeck, Texas 254/729-5253
- Visit the Civil War trenches and remains of Fort Esperanza on Matagorda Island
Texas Forest Trail
The Texas Forest Trail winds through four national and five state forests, past myriad rivers and lakes, back into Caddoan Indian culture, past Dogwoods and Azaleas, on the Texas State Railroad and through the Texas oil boom.
Rich landscapes dotted by small towns, punctuated by historical structures, and crisscrossed by Indian trade routes make the Texas Forest Trail one of the most scenic drives in the Southwest United States. Starting in late February to March, the area comes alive with early spring colors.
- Order a brochure of the Texas Forest Trail.
- Download a PDF file of the Texas Forest Trail.
- Search for historic site by type, city or county in Texas Forest Trail Region.
- Find recreational opportunites on National Forest and Grasslands website.
- Plan your trip on the Texas tourism website.
If you cannot journey to Texas at this time, browse through Texas Handbook Online or view the sample itinerary at the See America website for a feel of the Piney Woods.
Texas Wildlife Trails
The Great Coastal Birding Trail has been developed to help birders find all of the wonderful avian resources along the Texas coast. There are now three maps of the Texas Coast featuring hundreds of distinct birding sites, the species found at each site, and the best time of the year to visit. Below are links to use to order the birding trail maps.
Guadalupe Peak Texas Highpoint Trail
Guadalupe Peak Texas Highpoint Trail is an 8.4 mile out and back trail close to Salt Flat, Texas that offers the opportunity to see wildlife and is classed as difficult. The trail is open all year and offers a variety of activities.
Riverplace Nature Trail
Riverplace Nature Trail is a 5.5 mile out and back trail near West Lake Hills, Texas that features a waterfall. The trail is open all year and is popular for hiking, walking, running, and bird watching. This trail is also open to dogs, but they must be kept on a leash.