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A Trek Through Time – Government Canyon State Natural Area

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Tony Maples Photography


A Trek Through Time – Government Canyon State Natural Area

By Celestia Lyman

Government Canyon State Natural Area offers hikers an opportunity to walk where the dinosaurs once roamed. Just a few miles north of San Antonio and Helotes, it’s an easy day trip to get you out into nature. Not only is it a beautiful and serene area, it has hiking trails to fit everyone’s time frame and activity levels. With 16 different trails and nearly 40 miles of paths for hikers and bikers alike, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy in this Hill Country gem.

A Trek Through Time – Government Canyon State Natural Area

Government Canyon is a great place to hike for anyone, but it holds particular interest for dinosaur enthusiasts, young or old. Although a few tracks were discovered many years ago, full research only began at Government Canyon State Natural Area in 2013. Research is still underway, but more than 300 tracks have been discovered so far. You can see two different types of tracks at the state natural area. These dinosaurs are believed to have lived 110 million years ago in the Cretaceous period.

First is a Theropod, which refers to a carnivorous dinosaur that would have walked upright on two legs and had three toes. One species they know walked there is called an Acrocanthasaurus, which is the second largest Theropod in North America, coming in second to the T-Rex.  It is estimated to be 13 feet tall at the hip, having an overall length of 40 feet and weighing 2 to 3 tons. The next track they found is a Sauropod, which refers to an herbivore, that would have walked on four legs and had round feet. They know one of the Sauropod tracks to be a Sauroposeidon, which is estimated to have been 40 feet long and weighed in at 20 to 30 tons. You can clearly see many of these tracks in a 100-yard section of the park.

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