Getting there: From IH-35 north of New Braunfels take exit 191 and head west
on FM 306. Go beyond Canyon Park Road and past the intersection with 3424. Turn onto Hancock
Road on the left. Proceed for almost 2 miles to the trailhead parking area.
The Hike: Old Hancock Trail is a relatively new trail first opened up in 2000.
It follows the north shore of Canyon Lake in Comal County and provides about 7 miles of hiking out
and back. It appears the trail's primary purpose is to provide a place for horseback riding, but
like many such trails hiking is allowed. During the hike the solitary horseback rider I saw
was the only person I saw on the trail. Most likely you'll see folks in their boats along the
The trailhead sign resides at the eastern edge of the parking area.
The trail begins at the waypoint marked "Trailhead", which lies at the end of Hancock Road. There
is a large unpaved parking area and the actual trailhead is at the eastern end of the lot. There
was a Port-O-Potty near the trailhead for those who need to use the facilities.
Right away the trail gives one a taste of what's to come. Most of the hike will be over open meadow
with little cover. Whatever you bring, be sure to bring sunscreen. You'll need it. The trail
surface throughout is packed dirt and mowed grass, with a bit of rock thrown in here and there. Since
it generally follows the shore of Canyon Lake there is relatively little elevation gain for a hike
of this length.
A typical trail view. Open spaces, wildflowers and houses on the ridge above.
Those looking for high-point vistas won't find them here. But views of the hills surrounding the
lake are ever present and something unexpected, lots of animals. With little cover and plenty of
nearby homes I was quite surprised to encounter no less than 13 deer throughout the hike. The
small clumps of brush, high grasses and wildflower fields hide an enormous number of them. I
spotted more deer on this hike than any other.
Canyon Lake from the trail. Note the line of brush along the shore that mostly keeps the trail away from the water.
How about another superlative? Wildflowers. The terrain at Old Hancock appears ideal for
wildflowers. During a May visit the place was covered with Mexican Hats, more than I've seen
on any other hike. Standing 3 feet tall and bunched together in fields extending a couple hundred
feet in all directions, they were a sight to behold. So thick and tall were the wildflowers that
one deer was seeking shelter in the flowers alone. Had she not darted off when I was near I
never would have known she was there.
The trail proceeds mostly to the east, but the shoreline is circuitous so you're likely to head
in all directions to get to the end. There are a couple of side trails that one can take.
However some of the side trails indicated on the official map do not appear to be in usable shape.
If you keep to the most obvious trail and follow the markers along the way you should have no
problems getting from point A to point B.
With all of the wildflowers around butterflies are sure to appear. This one works on some Thistle.
Despite skirting the lake shore the hike actually provides but a few great views of the lake
up close. The trail sits at almost the same elevation as the water itself and the shoreline is
often shrouded in a thicket of brush, the kind the deer like. One of the better spots for
seeing the lake is at the waypoint marked "Lake". Here a cove reaches to a spot where the trail
passes along what appears to have been a steep rock wall, the top of which now sits a mere couple
of feet above the water. It's a nice place to sit for a rest and judging from the rope hanging
from a tree, a good place to take a dip.
The trail comes to an end at the edge of the road leading to Canyon Park on the peninsula. The
trail makes a flattened loop here and then doubles back to the trailhead. It's a shame that the
trail doesn't continue down to Canyon Park itself, but this hike, along what at first glance appeared
to be a monotonous terrain turned out to have a few pleasant surprises.