Hill Country State Natural Area
One of the crown jewels of the Texas parks system is the Hill Country State Natural Area (10 miles southwest of Bandera via FM 681 and FM 1077, 830/796-4413, www.tpwd.state.tx.us, open daily Feb.–Nov., weekends Dec.–Jan., $6 daily 13 and older for day use, $3 daily per person 13 and older for overnight use).
Secluded and undeveloped, this ruggedly beautiful 5,400-acre park preserves a magnificent portion of the Hill Country in its natural state. Equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers traverse trails across valleys, streams, and limestone hills, and primitive backcountry camping areas are available to equestrian and non-equestrian campers.
Most of the parkland was donated by the Merrick Bar-O-Ranch, which stipulated that it “be kept far removed and untouched by modern civilization, where everything is preserved intact, yet put to a useful purpose.” The terrain ranges from flat creek bottoms to rocky canyons reaching 2,000 feet in elevation.
Several spring-fed streams provide swimming holes and water for horses, but the humans among the herd are encouraged to bring their own drinking water.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition