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You don’t need to have lived downtown for thirty years to see that Austin is rapidly becoming more urbanized.

According to Forbes’ 2015 list, Austin ranks as the number two fastest-growing city in the United States. The race to claim the title of “tallest building in town” is always burning hot, with The Independent, a 685-foot Jenga-style condominium, slated to top The Austonian‘s mere 683-foot frame upon its completion. And Hotel Granduca just announced that it’s bought a sweet little spot along Loop 360.

However, unlike other fast-growing cities in Texas — and thanks to generous nature-lovers like Andrew Zilker and J. E. “Pete” Smith — Austin has largely proved unwilling to sacrifice its natural spaces on the altars of metropolitan progress. For locals and visitors alike who are looking to breathe fresh air and walk off some of that nine-to-five stress, Austin trails come in all varieties. Some are paved and easy, while others are much more rugged and challenging. While each is loved and appreciated, particularly by their neighbors, we have some strong opinions about which ones are best.

Seriously, these Austin trails are so gorgeous and so readily accessible, you’ll feel like you’re being bear hugged by Mother Nature herself. If you’re feeling stressed out, anxious, or just need to burn off some energy, this is where you need to be.

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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