available in the park. Stay on the designated trails, or receive a citation from a park
Finding the trailhead: From San Antonio, take TX 16 northwest to Bandera, then
take TX 173 south, across the Medina River, to Ranch Road 1077. Turn right and drive
10 miles to where the pavement ends and the road becomes gravel. From here, follow
the signs to the park headquarters area. Obtain a permit and then continue on the park
road, heading west, to the trailhead parking, which is at the entrance to the camping
area (sites #213-#217). The trailhead is about 0.1 mile from the parking area. Hill
Country State Natural Area is 40 miles northwest of San Antonio. DeLorme: Texas At-
las & Gazetteer: Page 77 A8. GPS: N 29 38.020' / W 99 11.090'
Start the Wilderness Trail between campsites #215 and #216 at the trailhead for Trail 1. Keep in mind
the warning a ranger gave about this being a primitive area: “We are a primitive park. If you think you
need it, we don't got it—you'll need to bring it!” This is in keeping with the stipulation from Louise
Merrick of the Merrick Bar-O-Ranch when she donated the land, that it “. . . be kept far removed and
untouched by modern civilization, where everything is preserved intact, yet put to useful activities.”
The route combines sections of Trail 1 (Wilderness Trail, partial loop), Trail 5 (Twin Peaks), and
Trail 5b (west peak of the Twin Peaks lollipop).
Head south on Trail 1 (Wilderness Trail), which is doubletrack and mainly flat. There are four
branches with other trails within the first mile, so the hike can be altered to lengthen or decrease the
distance. Pass these branches and continue on Wilderness Trail. This is a multiuse trail enjoyed by
equestrians, so avoid the manure left by their horses. Look around for dung beetles, unusual in Texas
parks, which help clean up the area by feeding on and breeding in the dung.
Swing left, bearing west to a gap. There is a park boundary fence; make a hard right going northeast
onto Trail 5, the Twin Peaks Trail. Within a short distance, the trail becomes very steep and rugged.
This is the most strenuous portion of the hike. A few wild goats enjoy grazing on these hillsides, and
jackrabbits take 15-foot hops to escape anything they think is a predator. Western diamondback
rattlesnakes call the Hill Country home and may be seen while hiking. Learn to recognize the venom-
ous snakes (rattlesnakes and water moccasins) from the nonvenomous, so everything that slithers
doesn't unnerve you.
Continue heading northeast until Trail 5 branches left and the short Trail 5b loop goes right. Take
the loop heading up to the West Peak. This trail is rocky and challenging. Enjoy the 360-degree panor-
ama from 1,870 feet up, as the loop circles the top. This is one of the best spots to appreciate the park's
5,400 acres. The loop ends and leads to markers for Trail 5, which heads downhill toward the camp-
sites. Patches of sotol, a plant resembling yucca but with less-rigid leaves, hang over many trails.