Hill Country State Natural Area
Things to Do
Tucked away in the rugged terrain southwest of Bandera is Hill Country State Natural Area, an undeveloped and secluded retreat. Approximately 40 miles of multiuse trails wind up grassy valleys, cross spring-fed streams, and climb steep limestone hills. Equestrians, hikers and mountain bikers can enjoy exploring the trails. Campsites for primitive and back country camping are available to equestrian and non-equestrian campers. There is also a Group Lodge with a kitchen.
Swimming and fishing are not available at this time due to extremely low water levels. Fire danger conditions can change rapidly and a burn ban can be enacted with little advanced notice. Please contact the park for current conditions prior to your arrival.
Recreational activity centers around 40 miles of designated, multiuse trails. The park offers a back country setting for activities such as primitive camping, backpacking, mountain biking, hiking,, and nature viewing.
This park is located 12 miles southwest of the town of Bandera on FM 1077, 52 miles northwest of San Antonio. Formerly the Bar-O Ranch, this 5,400-acre site provides a back country setting. Visitors may bring their own horses (must have current Coggins.) The park offers 40 miles of designated, multi-use trails open to backpacking, primitive camping, horseback riding, and mountain bicycling. The terrain ranges from flat, broad, creek bottoms to steep, rocky canyons up to 2,000 feet in elevation. Well water is available for horses but visitors should bring their own drinking water. Hitching posts are provided, and parking is allowed around the perimeter of the designated equestrian area. The park does not provide horses.
Chapa's Group Camp has a capacity for a large number of people. It is in a 10-acre, shaded area and has a large barn with a concrete floor and electricity. There is water for horses, fire rings, picnic tables, a picket line, approximately 12 horse stalls, and a vault toilet nearby. Reservations are required.
At the Trailhead Campground there are six primitive equestrian sites. These have picnic tables, fire rings, pens, water for horses, two 40-foot pull-through and four 40-foot back-in parking spots for horse trailers, and a vault toilet in the area. These have access to the 40-mile trail system.
A group lodge is available for equestrian or non-equestrian use and will sleep 12 persons. It has four bedrooms, two with queen size beds, one with two twins and a dorm room with three twins. The lodge has one and a half bathrooms, kitchen with a stove and refrigerator, and seating for 12; central heating and air-conditioning; porch; a separate covered barbecue pit; and five stalls, two pens and corrals for horses. Towels, bed linens and cooking utensils are not furnished. Use of the equestrian arena is in addition to the group lodge rental.
Bar O is a primitive day use facility that is set up for equine activities, although it is popular with campers too, and is located across from the park headquarters in six shaded acres. It has a water trough, fire rings, and a flushing toilet. The Bar O has limited facilities for securing your horses at hitching posts.
Fires may be built in fire rings only and you must bring your own firewood; gathering of dead wood or cutting of standing timber is prohibited. Trash has to be packed out for disposal, including all hay and animal byproducts.
Due to water conservation measures, no horse washing is currently allowed.
- Be sure to bring drinking water. Potable water is not available; all water must be treated.
- Campfires permitted in fire rings only, except during burn bans.
- As with all Texas State Parks, pets must be on leashes no longer than 6 feet (strictly enforced).
- Trails may be subject to closure during wet conditions.
- We are a primitive park, back to nature - so we say "If you think you need it, we don't have it, so you'll need to bring it!"
Guide Service Providers
Don’t own a horse? Let one of our commercial guides give you a tour of the natural area on horseback. Guides can help you explore the natural area or try a new activity. Guide services include horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and hay rides. Visit our Guide Service Providers page for contact information.
The park offers a variety of educational opportunities. Check the calendar for upcoming events or contact the park for special tours.
Volunteer Information: For information on volunteer opportunities contact the park or their friends group: Go here for information on volunteer and Park Host opportunities at other Texas State Parks., P.O. Box 2282, Bandera, TX 78003.
Nearby interests are and Garner State Park; ; Kerrville-Schreiner Park; numerous dude ranches; kayak/tube rentals on the Medina River; regional rodeos; and other special events in the towns of Bandera, Medina and Pipe Creek. For more information on this area, visit the Bandera County Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.banderacowboycapital.com