“Bobcat and Horses and Trails ... Oh My!”
This is another Texas State Park I visited in my efforts to see as many state recreation areas as I can before leaving Texas in September. Hill Country State Natural Area is seriously geared for horseback riding, including accomodations for horses. This being said, it is very good for hiking and biking, but note - Hikers & Bikers must yield to horses.
I started out my first visit by hiking several trails while scouting for a future backpacking weekend. This state recreation area offers many trails of different levels of difficulty ranging from Easy (dirt roads) to Moderate (worn trails). There were no Difficult trails I hiked; however, a few trails led to scenic hill top summits and required extra effort to hike. I actually reached one summit and was surprised, when I was met by two couples on horseback. I could not believe horses made it up the somewhat rugged trail - Wow. There are also a variety of scenic landscapes; from paths through the Cedars, Rugged Texas Hilltops, a Grassy Meadow to paths passing a Ravine (where the Bobcats live).
I backpacked into the Wilderness Campsites which lie along Trail 1 on my second visit here. This trail is a dirt road and allowed for an easy ~ 1 3/4 mile backpack into the campsites. The site I selected was tucked under a nice Oak (Site 7 - I think) and there is a cleared area in the center of the camping area that could accomdate a couple Boy Scout Troops. In fact, on day 2 of my campout a troop of Boy Scouts hiked into the area and spent the night. Those troop leaders were outstanding with the kids, as soon as it was 9:00 P.M. - you could hear a pin drop! And I though I wouldn't get much sleep with those scouts near by.
This camp area also affords some off trail exporing to the surrounding hill tops; however, there are real good trails to speed your exploring along and this reduces the risk of a Rattlesnake encounter. I did hike along a Moderately Difficult trail and was pumped when I ran across some fresh Bobcat footprints - big Bobcat footprints. I photo'd the prints and later confirmed with the Rangers the prints were Bobcat and not a small Cougar. This area lies within the Mountain Lion corridor, although, no one has seen any in some time.
I also hiked into the other "primitive" campsites; Butterfly Spings & Hermit Shack during a return trip to Hill Country State Natural Area. These were also good camping locations and were shaded sites underneath trees. It was a healthy 2 + mile hike to both camping areas which are located about 200 yards apart.
NOTE - When hiking and camping here it is definitely required to carry in your own water. The sites are equiped with picnic tables and fire rings with cooking area. There is plenty of dead debris on the ground to use, but unfortunately I did see evidence of some cut tree limbs. It was great getting into the Texas hills and experience the sometimes rugged terrain. Seeing riders on horseback on the trails was a real throw-back for a guy who grew up in New Jersey.
All-in-all, I visited Hill Country State Natural Area on 4 different trips including a weekend backpacking trip. This area is one of my favorite parks I have visited, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a hiking or camping get-a-way. If you ride horses, then, this is the bomb. And as always, the rangers in the Texas State Parks are knowledgeable and helpful.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.