Fall Adventure Awaits at Hill Country State Parks

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


By Karen Blizzard

All photos courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

“Fall weather in Texas” can mean idyllic, warm days and crisp, cool evenings; or it can mean a throwback to the hot days of the Texas summer just past. Fortunately, Garner, Lost Maples, South Llano River, Blanco, and McKinney Falls state parks offer something for either of these fall weather scenarios–from swimming, hiking, fishing, geocaching, and mountain biking to making s’mores around a campfire before snuggling into your tent under the stars.

The park websites provide information and downloadable maps of multiuse trails. As the fall leaves begin to change, one popular destination is Lost Maples State Natural Area, where visitors come each year to revel in nature’s spectacular color show.

Do you love to swim or fish? Garner State Park, on the banks of the spring-fed Frio River, offers paddle-boat, kayak, and inner-tube rentals. And you don’t need a fishing license to fish from shore or pier at any state park or natural area. If you don’t own tackle but are curious to try fishing, you can borrow fishing rods and reels at Blanco State Park.

We are lucky to have clear rivers and streams in Texas that are home to the state fish, the Guadalupe bass, and many other species of fish. As the population of Texas grows, maintaining clean rivers in the Hill Country requires collaboration and work by many partners. Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation supports conservation efforts to keep these ecosystems healthy for wildlife and fish and clean so park visitors can enjoy fishing, swimming, and kayaking or canoeing.

Texas State Parks offer programs such as Arts in the Parks, the Junior Ranger Program, and the Geocache Challenge that are designed to help families and kids explore and experience all that state parks have to offer. If history is your thing, be sure to check out the historic architecture and park features at Blanco River and Garner state parks that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.

Nature and history come together at McKinney Falls State Park, where Native Americans dwelled around 8,750 years ago. Situated near the historic El Camino Real, the park offers swimming and fishing in beautiful Onion Creek, as well as nine miles of trails ideal for biking or hiking. A group recreation hall is available for rent for larger group gatherings.

Hill Country State Natural Area, near Bandera, offers a more rugged, undeveloped experience and over 40 miles of multiuse trails that traverse fields, limestone hills, and streams. It’s ideal for equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers, and there is also a group lodge with a kitchen. Water levels may be low, so be sure to check with the park before planning to fish or swim.

Check out the State Parks Calendar to find fall events for the whole family to enjoy at all the parks, and be sure to check for “alerts” on the park page before going.

About Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Since 1991, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has raised more than $170 million in private philanthropy to ensure that all Texans, today and in the future, can enjoy the wild things and wild places of Texas. You can help by becoming a member.  Join now.