Government Canyon State Natural Area

Trail
40.00 Miles
N/A
N/A
(3.54)13
(2.62)
(2.62)
Yes
N/A
N/A
N/A
San Antonio
Bexar
More Info
Photos
(Photo by jmitchell)
(Photo by jmitchell)
(Photo by jmitchell)
(Photo by jmitchell)
(Photo by Eveline)
(Photo by Eveline)
(Photo by Eveline)
The trailhead for the backcountry trails includes a detailed trail map and forms to fill out letting rangers know your intended route. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
The trails are well typically well worn or well marked. There's a mix of flatter creek bottom and rocky ridges. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
The trails typically follow canyon creek bottoms before vaulting over ridges. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone sits at Chula Vista on the Far Reaches Trail. This is one of the better views in the park and looks a bit better in person than on camera. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
This is a picture taken near the beginning of Joe Johnston trail. (Photo by BigFrank3)
Looking up from the Joe Johnston trail. (Photo by BigFrank3)
Moss hanging from trees (Photo by BigFrank3)
With as many people on the trail as I was passing, this was a welcome sight. (Photo by BigFrank3)
at 8:30ish in early Sept. (Photo by plectrudis)
Theropod tracks (Photo by plectrudis)
Shady in the morning (Photo by plectrudis)
Theropod tracks (Photo by plectrudis)
Cathedral of Moss - a little ways past the dino tracks (Photo by plectrudis)
Log Entries
Pleasant Morning Hike
By plectrudis on 9/3/2017
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 7.50 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 30 minutes

I get the impression that this park is busier than it used to be.  It's ringed by suburbs (though it's big enough that you don't see/hear them from the trail), and while it wasn't crowded, there were a fair few joggers/trail runners.

Started hiking around 8am, which meant that we had shade for most of the trip; by early afternoon, though, I think most of the shade would be gone, and the trail would be pretty exposed.

We went as far as the Zizelmann House on the Joe Johnston trail, which meant that we saw the dino tracks and this really cool spot that was dripping with Spanish moss.

The tracks were okay--one site was covered in water, but in the other two we could see 3 theropad prints quite clearly and a thing that could be a sauropod track. They're roped off for preservation, which is fair enough, but it's nothing like as cool or as numerous as the tracks at Dinosaur Valley, or the Hill Country Heritage site, or the tracks in the San Gabriel river by Leander.  

By texaskdog on 6/27/2015
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.00 Miles Duration: N/A

We did the loop with the 2 spurs.  VERY hot out.  Once we got off the flat trail we didn't see anyone the rest of the way.  Good short hike and somewhat shady but tons more trails if you have more time.  Worth the trip from Austin.

By mtuncap1955 on 4/4/2015
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 6.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Completed the Joe Johnston Route up to the old ZizelmannI House.  Nice weather, gradual elevation, some rocky areas, and stopped at the fossil site along the way.

WOW what a hike with Bryant and CJ
By lawhit on 10/16/2010
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.00 Miles Duration: N/A

WOW what a day our day started at 5 am we got to the park at 7:30 am we left the park at 5:30 pm

in all we hiked 8 miles we think the map didn't seem portionate in spaces

any way we had a great time especailly when we got to the primitive hike area as the boys said "the spider on the sign wasn't a clue" they were everywhere in the trees in the bushes in the tall grass on your hat in the back pack yikes but that made it fun bryant grab a big stick and took the lead clearing the webs from the trailish we in counter a bug the boys thought was a "katydid" but after looking at it on line thats not it more resaech reguried

 the trail was over grown and if it wasn't for the blue tape we would of gotten lost the trails was not clear seeing how it was a primitative hike but fun

after serval miles we final reached a maintained trail and we all jumped for joy no more spider oh and by the way these spiders were green yellow brown and about a 1/2 inch long yuck

the trail never really got to hard the inclines and desends were very moderate making the diffuclty small  all in all good hike but we will not return for we feel we seen a good part of it but do recomend it

Worth A Second Trip
By BigFrank3 on 7/12/2008
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 6.00 Miles Duration: 4 hours

There were a lot of mountain bikers, but just as many hikers.  The trails are very clearly marked.  I did the Joe Johnston trail, to Little Windmill, to Sendero Balcones, back to the recharge trail, and home.  An early start is best, as it was really hot by Noon.  I was on a limited time frame, but I look forward to getting back when I have more time.

By BWZJKirby on 6/20/2007
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Have to come back again
By Austin Explorer on 11/19/2006
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 6.60 Miles Duration: 4 hours, 43 minutes
Coppertone and I covered the Wildcat Canyon and Far Reaches trails today. At this rate it will take maybe three more visits to hike everything that the park has to offer. The butterflies were out in droves today. At some points along the trail our passing by caused a virtual swarm of them to take flight. Very entertaining. Being a very nice day, there were plenty of other people on the trail, both on foot and on bikes. Looks like lots of other people have found out about Government Canyon. One might find more solitude farther back in the park.
Good close hike
By skydvrboy on 5/29/2006
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 11.80 Miles Duration: N/A
Mileage is from 2 trips. Hiked all of front country, bluff spurs, far reaches. Lots of butterflies, varieties of cactus, and rocks. Front country is very unimpressive, backcountry seems to have some nice areas. Fee is $6 per person over 13 years, waived with Texas Parks Pass. Bikes are allowed (more bikers than hikers). Trails close early, backcountry 4 PM, frontcountry 5 PM, gates 6 PM. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/government_canyon/#sch
Decent, but not spectacular
By bolilloradio on 3/4/2006
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 9.10 Miles Duration: N/A
Went with a buddy this past weekend to see as much of the park as possible. Some comments: Not a spectacular park as there was no water in the creek (and doesn't look like there ever is except for rainstorms) and the high canyon walls were infrequent and way off the trail (we didn't go by the overlook though). It's close enough to San Antonio for mountain bikers to make an afternoon of it. We probably saw 30 of them in 5 hours. But most of them were courteous (i.e. didn't try to run you over and thanked you for stepping to the side). We took the Joe Johnston Route up the canyon, then went up Caroline's Loop, so we missed the overlook, which for all I know is pretty neat. Caroline's Loop was much less traveled, but that's about all it had going for it. Even the climb up was gradual and easy. We hit Wildcat Canyon on the way back, which didn't feel like much of a canyon at all and had more bikers on it. We hiked over 9 hard miles on rock half the time and enjoyed it, but my favorites will continue to be Lost Maples and Pedernales Falls, mostly due to the presence of water. I would recommend visiting on a weekday when there are fewer people around. Thanks to all the people that worked to get it open though.
By Eveline on 2/18/2006
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 6.20 Miles Duration: N/A
They have made lots of improvements to the facilities.
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