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The Hill Country State Natural Area: A True Unpolished Gem

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Hidden in the rugged landscape approximately 12 miles southwest of Bandera is the Hill Country State Natural Area. These 5,400 acres of undeveloped property offer roughly 40 miles of multiuse trails through limestone hills, grassy valleys, and spring-fed streams. Most often used by hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, the area is monitored by Texas Parks and Wildlife, and available for anyone’s enjoyment. Backcountry and primitive campsites are available, as well as Chapa’s Group Camp which is a 1930s ranch house with four bedrooms, able to accommodate up to nine people (equestrian and non). Stalls and corrals are available for up to five horses at the camp building, and tents/RV’s are allowed space in its immediate vicinity (up to five RV’s).

Open for Equestrian and Non-Equestrian Use

The Hill Country State Natural Area: A True Unpolished Gem

Photo: Facebook/Hill Country State Natural Area – Texas Parks and Wildlife

The Trailhead Campground features six primitive equestrian sites as well as two 40-foot pull-through and four 40-foot back-in parking spots for horse trailers. A group lodge is also available for equestrian or non-equestrian use, which sleeps 12. It has four bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathrooms, a full kitchen, and central heating and air-conditioning. Due to low water levels, swimming and fishing are not offered at the present time, and a burn ban can be enacted with little warning due to rapidly changing fire conditions. The recreational area is centered around these 40 miles of trails, including backpacking and nature viewing. Formerly the Bar-O Ranch, visitors to the natural area are allowed to bring their own horses (with current Coggins) or one of the commercial guides can provide a tour of the trails by horseback. Other guide services include mountain biking, hay rides, and hiking.

Keeping it Natural for Everyone to Enjoy

The Hill Country State Natural Area: A True Unpolished Gem

Photo: Facebook/Hill Country of Texas Landscape Photography – Raw Nature

The topography for the Hill Country State Natural Area varies from flat, wide, creek beds to precipitous, craggy canyons with elevations of up to 2,000 feet. Well water is made available for horses however visitors are asked to bring their own drinking water. If pets are brought along for the ride, they must be on leashes no longer than six feet, and this is strictly enforced. Since this is a natural area, which is fairly primitive, you are asked to bring anything you need with you, and in that same vein, bring everything back out, including all garbage. For this to remain the Hill Country State Natural Area, it should be left as “natural” as possible for everyone to enjoy.