Trails Information

Explore the natural wonders of this remote Hill Country wilderness.

Tranquil creek bottoms, rugged canyons and scenic plateaus invite you to the 40 miles of trails at Hill Country State Natural Area. You’re sure to be intrigued as you discover the diverse ecosystems and cultural history that await on the adventure ahead.


All trails are shared-use for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

This list may not include all trails in the park.

Trail Distance Time Difficulty Description
Merrick Mile Trail 1.0 mi. 30 min. Easy-Moderate For a quick glimpse of the natural area, take this short scenic loop near HQ. Enjoy the mild climb that then descends into a prairie of native grasses and wildflowers.
Heritage Loop 1.1 mi. 30 min. Easy Imagine a working ranch as you pass by the mill remnants, views of the Bar-O Ranch House, and historic Kitselman fencing. All before ending the loop at the Heritage Garden!
Wilderness Trail 3.1 mi. 2 hrs. Moderate Cutting through the heart of the natural area, this easy-going trail meanders along valleys surrounded by the impressive peaks and escarpments above.
Madrone Trail 2.1 mi. 1.5 hrs. Moderate Named for the native trees found along this route, the trail takes you to remote regions of the natural area.
Hermits Trail 1.9 mi. 1.5 hrs. Moderate A favorite for heading to the backcountry campsites, this trail reveals both abundant sunlight and shady groves as you navigate through the canyon.
Bandera Creek Trail 2.0 mi. 1 hr.  Moderate Explore this route winding along a seasonal creek, where you're sure to appreciate the interesting variety of plants. Watch for animal tracks along the way.
Pasture Loop 1.9 mi. 1.5 hrs. Moderate Surrounding a former agricultural field, this loop traverses wide open grassland and mature stands of live oak trees.
Medina Loop 2.6 mi. 2 hrs. Moderate-Challenging This rugged route takes you over limestone outcroppings, past an old goat shed, and leads to the Comanche Bluff Overlook. Keep an eye out for claret-cup cactus.
West Peak Overlook Trail 1.2 mi. 1 hr. Challenging The steep climb up this trail is not without reward. A staff favorite, the breathtaking views are abundant in every direction.
Ice Cream Hill Trail 1.5 mi. 1 hr. Challenging Extreme adventure awaits on this backcountry trail. You will be wishing for cool refreshment after tackling the steep and rocky grades.
List of Trails

Points of Interest

GPS coordinates shown in decimal degrees.

Point Latitude Longitude Description
Scenic Overlook 29.6344° -99.1969° Enjoy panoramic views from a resting bench after ascending to one of the highest peaks of the natural area.
Historic Spring Barn 29.6287° -99.1771° Spring Barn’s distinctive gambrel roof is typically associated with dairy farming and hay storage.
Heritage Garden 29.6277° -99.1810° Discover a collection of agricultural implements that will remind us of our ranching heritage.
Comanche Bluff 29.6169° -99.1714° Enjoy the view of West Verde Creek from atop this limestone bluff.
List of Points of Interest

Staying Safe

  • Know your limits. Prepare for sun and heat. Wear sunscreen, insect repellent and appropriate clothing/hiking shoes.
  • Drink plenty of water. Bring a quart (32 oz.) of water per hour of activity for yourself, and remember your pets need water, too.
  • Tell others where you’ll be. If possible, avoid exploring alone. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Wear a helmet. Protect yourself when mountain biking or horseback riding. Check with headquarters to match the trail to your skill level.
  • Check for closures. Check prior to arrival. Trails and backcountry campsites may be closed due to wet conditions or poor weather.
  • You may not be able to connect. It’s a good idea to take along a cell phone and GPS unit, but don’t count on them.

Trail Etiquette

  • Trash your trash. Keep the park natural. Pack out all of your trash and Leave No Trace.
  • Leave feeding to nature. Feeding wild animals will make them sick and more likely to harm people.
  • Take only memories and pictures. Please don’t disturb or remove any of the park’s plants, animals, fossils or artifacts.
  • Keep pets on a leash. Keeping your pet under control protects other visitors, wildlife and your pets.
  • Tell us about your caches. Please check with park headquarters before placing geocaches within the natural area.
  • Practice trail courtesy. Remain on designated trails and be respectful of other trail users. Bikers yield to hikers; everyone yields to horses.