Hiking Texas’ Hill Country

My Texan friend, Karen, told me that this central region (the Edwards Plateau) is lovely, and right she is; it’s unlike any part of Texas we’ve seen. Not to imply Texas is generally unlovely, but this area is special.

We’re in Garner State Park, along the Rio Frio, west of San Antonio. Right now it’s just us amid a forest of Texas Live Oaks as far as we can see. They’re shorter than the Southern variety, but green and branchy and filled with Spanish moss all the same.

For the first time since, heck, I don’t know when, we biked over to a trailhead and went on a real hike yesterday; a kazillion trails wind around the hills in this huge park, that was built in 1930 by the Civilian Conservation Corp.

From the brochures, this place is a popular tubing destination (the Rio Frio is wide and fast in sections), but in the quiet of early spring we’re enjoying walking through the woods.

Cacti are in bloom.

And we can still see the shapes of trees and brambles before all the leaves fill in.

We climbed down into a small cave that revealed gobs of crystals, and we looked down on the river winding below, with a crowded RV park on one side and the almost-empty state park campground on the other. (People do love their full hookups; we have all but sewer.)

Our campsite is especially nice because it backs up to the river, where we sit in our beach chairs in the evenings and watch the sunset reflect off the unusual rock formations near the river bed.

Crickets and frogs make it sound like deep summer.

We don’t know what this place will look like this weekend. There are 8 campground loops with more than 300 sites, plus a bunch of cabins, but only about 50 of us camping right now, and that’s a generous guess. Maybe only 30.

Every unoccupied site has a reserved placard on it, which normally means we’ll be inundated with families starting Friday. It seems so unlikely that 250 vehicles will line up to flood this place in the next day. Maybe those placards are meant simply to keep people without a reservation from parking anywhere they want; maybe, because there are so few camphosts and rangers present right now, they’re limiting entrance.

Surely more people will come in tomorrow, even if the park’s not at capacity. So while it’s nice and quiet, I’m going to see if the hot water is on in the showers and check out the laundry room that’s clear over on the other side of this vast park. We may even find the putt putt course!

6 thoughts to “Hiking Texas’ Hill Country”

  1. My sister and her family live in Katy TX. They have gone to Garner State Park for past 12 years for a week after Christmas. They absolutely love it there 💚