Bump in the Night

8 spooky outdoor Austin adventures to get in the Halloween spirit

8 spooky outdoor Austin adventures to get in the Halloween spirit

Inks Lake State Park night fall
Have a spook-tacular time at Inks Lake State Park.  Inks Lake State Park/Facebook

Austin's love of both the outdoors and Halloween is well known, and lucky for locals, many of the nearby state parks are throwing festive affairs in honor of All Hallow's Eve.

What kid (or adult for that matter) wouldn’t want to celebrate this holiday in the dark but not-too-scary woods? Pack up your little ghosts and ghouls and check out these eight spooky events.

Due to recent rains, details for some of these events may change, so check with organizers before heading out for a spook-tacular time.

Halloween Under the Pines — Saturday, October 20
Bastrop State Park and Buescher State Park

On October 20, from 9 am to 7 pm, Bastrop and Buescher state parks combine for Halloween Under the Pines, a day of family friendly Halloween activities — costumes welcome. The day starts with a Selfie Scavenger Hunt in both parks at 9 am, and includes guided hikes throughout the day focusing on animals, history, ghost stories, and zombie-apocalypse survival. The Scavenger Hunt ends in Bastrop at 4 pm followed by a pumpkin carving contest at the Historic Golf Shelter. Follow that up with s'mores, cider, and cocoa and spooky stories around the campfire.

Predators of the Pines — Saturday, October 20
Lockhart State Park

On the Predators of the Pines hike from 10-11 am at Lockhart State Park, rangers will talk about critters at the higher end of the food chain: predators. Find out why your cat's eyes glow in the dark or dogs lick their noses and other adaptations predators use to stalk their prey. Hike starts at the Creek View Trailhead. Wear closed-toed shoes and bring water and bug spray (some predators are tiny but ruthless).

Bat Quest — Friday, October 26
McKinney Falls

Get batty on October 26 from 7-8:30 pm at McKinney Falls, a state park within the Austin city limits. This ranger-led hike scopes out the bats flying around the park at night using Wildlife Acoustics technology. Meet at the Lower Falls restroom, and bring closed-toed shoes, water, and a flashlight. Free with park entry fees and open to all ages.

What Goes Bump in the Night — Saturday, October 27
Buescher State Park 

Buescher State Park hosts What Goes Bump in the Night, a guided hike all about nocturnal creatures on October 27 from 6:30-8 pm. Walk like a fox and hear like an owl while exploring the park in the dark. Wear Halloween costumes and bring flashlights or headlamps with red lights only. Hike starts at the parking lot near walk-in campsite 61, across from the Winding Woodland Trail trailhead.

Creatures of the Night Trick-or-Treat — Saturday, October 27
Inks Lake State Park

At Inks Lake State Park, Creatures of the Night Trick-or-Treat runs from 6:30-8 pm, and includes a self-guided hike along the Devil’s Waterhole Nature Trail, starting at the Devil’s Waterhole parking lot. Costumes are encouraged and candy distributed while supplies last. Program free with entry fee, ages 12-and-under are free.

Halloween in Pedernales Falls — Saturday, October 27
Pedernales Falls State Park

Halloween activities start at 2:30 pm and end at 9:00 pm on October 27 at Pedernales Falls State Park. Activities include Faces of the Forest, a ranger-led talk at the picnic area about some of the most eerie and fearsome creatures around, followed by mask making for trick-or-treating. During Trick or Trees, campers and rangers hand out candy in the campgrounds (participants will have special signs at their sites). Children must have adult supervision and flashlights are recommended. Expect scary stories at Spooky Campfire Tales, 7:30 pm at the Trammel Crossing Amphitheater all while listening for creatures of the night and looking for creepy crawlers.

Night Hike  — Saturday, October 27
Enchanted Rock State Park

Join a park ranger at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to explore the Loop Trail under the light of the stars from 7:30-9 pm. Listen for signs of night creatures that inhabit the park, learn how dark skies and light pollution affect these critters, and get tips on easy things you can do to help them. Park in the campground parking lot and walk to the west end of the campground between sites 18 and 19. Bring a flashlight, preferably with a red lens, and dress for the weather (good luck figuring that out).

Eve of All Hallows Hike — Tuesday, October 30
Spring Valley Nature Trail in Inks Lake State Park

Take an Eve of All Hallows hike along the Spring Valley Nature Trail in Inks Lake State Park to learn about the fall traditions of the Texas Hill Country and its past inhabitants. One-mile hike starts a 6 pm at the Devil’s Waterhole parking lot and includes time for stargazing — and perhaps some witches flying overhead, who knows?