Over the last few months, our trail running group (Bexar Tracks) has been training on various local trails in preparation for the Alamo City Ultra.
The majority of our trail time has been spent at Friedrich Wilderness Park, the Powerlines, and Mcallister Park. Prior to moving into our specificity training at Eisenhower Park during the month of August, we have decided to take a road trip to Bandera and put in some miles at the Hill Country State Natural Area.
In preparation for this trip, it became evident that it would be useful to share more details with the trail running community concerning running in Bandera.
This post is intended to provide you an overview of our plans and an initial overview of one of my favorite places to run within a 1-2 hour drive from San Antonio. If you have more questions, would like to join our training group or need additional information please feel free to contact us for more specifics.
The Hill Country State Natural Area is located just outside of Bandera, Texas.
Per the HCSNA website, "HCSNA is an undeveloped and secluded retreat. Approximately 40 miles of multi-use trails wind up grassy valleys, cross spring-fed streams, and climb steep limestone hills. Equestrians, hikers and mountain bikers can enjoy exploring the trails.
The drive from the San Antonio Running Company to the Hill Country State Natural Area is around 61 miles and takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes traveling along highway 16. It is a nice and easy drive although precaution should be taken when driving in the early morning due to a lack of lighting and the frequent wildlife sightings.
Once you arrive at Bandera, you take a left onto 173 and follow the signs to the Hill Country Natural Area for around 18 minutes until you enter the state park. After entering the park you will be traveling on dirt and gravel roads at a low rate of speed. To get to the headquarters you will take your first right across a low lying road that is frequently flooded. Use precaution crossing and continue until you see signs pointing towards the headquarters.
At the Headquarters, you will need to fill out one Self Pay Permit per vehicle. For day use the cost is $6 unless you have a Texas State Park Pass. If you plan to trail run in Texas, the year-long pass is a great investment and a great opportunity to help support the state park system. To purchase a Texas State Park Pass click here.
Once the self-pay permit is completed, remove the adhesive portion and place it on the inside of your windshield and deposit the cash and permit at the Headquarters.
Most of the trail running groups will then proceed to park at the Equestrian Camp Area located on Park Road just past the Headquarters.
There is a restroom at the Headquarters and also one at the Equestrian Camp Area for your convenience. From the Equestrian Camp Area, there are various trailheads in different directions that can be taken depending on the route you prefer to run.
For our trail run on Saturday, we will mimic the Bandera 25K route as close as possible while starting and finishing from Equestrian, instead of the Lodge. The Park Road leading to the Lodge is currently under construction.
Bandera and the Hill Country State Natural Area is a great escape and a fun place for a trail run but you must be prepared to have a self-supported run.
We hope you find this useful as an initial reference point. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to join our Bexar Tracks trail and ultra running group as we train for the Alamo City Ultra, Sky Island, Bandera and other races throughout the year.
What is your favorite place to trail run around San Antonio?
What is your favorite trail run route at Bandera?
The Powerlines is not a city park or a managed trail. It is simply a "trail" running under powerlines that was discovered by local Rockhoppers and has since become one of the local favorites for anyone looking to get some elevation and trail miles.
Part of the beauty of the Powerlines is its simplicity. It is a 3 mile out and back course. Nothing fancy. Simply rugged running.