February 11, 2017
I didn’t get too many chances in 2016 to mark places off my Texas State Parks checklist. I was under a lot of restrictions before and after the surgery. With a working spinal cord and a job I only work a couple days a week, I don’t have any excuses right now! I’m going to try and knock out as many as I can before my PCT adventure. My latest, which was number 28 of 92 on the list, was Government Canyon State Natural Area in San Antonio. It was sort of a last minute trip, and I didn’t camp overnight, but it was still nice hiking. My friend, Tom Kennedy, from Hike For Mental Health, was in the process of walking from Houston to Austin to raise awareness about the stigma of mental illness. That deserves it’s own post, so I’ll get into that more later, but what he did was very cool. I offered him some support on his walk and decided to just make a little trip of it with some walking of my own. My friend, Chief Two Sticks, lives in San Antonio now so it was a great excuse to go visit him after I dropped Tom off.
While Chief was doing some trail maintenance on one of the Frontcountry loops, I set out to do a day hike of the 9-mile Far Reaches and Twin Oaks Loop. It was cloudy in the morning so I didn’t get a lot of good pictures. I really thought I was going to get a little rain but it never happened. The sky cleared in the afternoon and it was beautiful even if it was pretty hot. It didn’t feel humid, however, so it wasn’t that bad. There were a couple of nice overlooks but, really, the trail itself is what I love most in the hill country. I love the cactus and the rocky trails. I love the flowers and Juniper berries scattered everywhere. Even though it was a weekend and I saw a lot of people at the visitor center in the morning, I didn’t run into too many people on the trail once I got far away enough. It was nice. I wanted to do the trail with dinosaur tracks but the woman who gave me my map said they were covered with mud so it wasn’t worth it. That just means I’ll have to come back. I’m okay with that.
After I finished the loop, Chief was done working for the day, and we went off to do some hiking together. We haven’t hiked together since the Appalachian Trail so that was awesome. I’m glad I got to see him and glad I got to share a Texas trail with him. We started the Bluff Spurs Trail together and hung out at the south overlook for a little bit. We came to a split in the trail afterwards and I gave him a giant sweaty goodbye hug before leaving him to hike the rest alone. I’d already done 9 miles, not including what we did together, and I had to head back to my car for a 3.5 hour drive back to Houston. I’ll definitely be back but with more time to really explore!
Some things to keep in mind, if you plan to visit:
- Check online or call for specific trails. Some are only open during certain months, and some trails get closed because of weather or poor conditions. Don’t let that scare you though. There are over 40 miles of trails!
- Overnight camping is only allowed on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Closed Tuesday-Thursday with some holiday exceptions. This sounds bad, but it means they’re working hard to preserve and maintain the area through research and education, and that’s a good thing.
- Dogs are allowed on the Frontcountry trails BUT are not allowed on the Backcountry trails. Parts of Government Canyon are on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone and there are some endangered species in the area.
- Bring sunscreen! There are sections of trail that don’t have a lot of tree cover for shade and you may be exposed for a bit. I didn’t bring any but I’m Asian so it’s cool.
- Visit their FAQ page for more info.