Day Trip: Garner State Park
Garner State Park is one of the most-visited parks in Texas, and rightfully so. With hundreds of camp sites and plenty of hiking, as well as summer dances, a miniature golf course and a concession building, it’s more like a family nature amusement center than a state park.
For more photos of the area, check out our Garner State Park slideshow here.
The park is located about 3.5 hours southwest of Austin, in Concan, Texas, on the outer edge of the Texas Hill Country. The area is beautiful – creeks and rivers snake through the landscape, with hundreds of Cypress trees lining their banks. This is farm country, and spotting the different livestock from the car window is as fun as taking the narrow, hilly roads reminiscent of Colorado.
In the fall, the area’s variety of trees give off color that rivals New England in some areas, as the Texas redbud, cypress, Spanish oak, lacey oak, Texas madrone, cedar elm and pecan give themselves up to winter.
The most appealing part of Garner State Park for most is the Frio River, which isn’t as cold as it sounds, even in late fall. The river provides opportunities for wading and swimming, tubing, canoeing, fishing, paddle boating and kayaking. However, even in the colder months, the abundance of hiking trails makes this park a good choice. The abundance of families on weekends makes it worth visiting during the week if you have the chance.
The hiking trails in this park are so interesting because the terrain is so diverse. Mesas, limestone cliffs, deep canyons, streams and caves can all be seen throughout the park. Many sites are labeled on the trail map, for hikers’ convenience. Take note, however, that many of these hikes are quite strenuous.
When The Bearded One and I visited in late November, we did a portion of the East Trails, which take you up and over an extremely steep ridge, through a canyon and then up and over another extremely steep ridge. This is one of those trails where going down is about as hard as going up thanks to loose rocks and steep elevation change. I was surprised that the park isn’t doing anything to prevent the widespread erosion on the trails.
The camping here is extensive. There are hundreds of tent and RV sites and still more cabins and shelters. The sites are pretty close to one another and don’t provide much in the way of seclusion, but that’s what the trails are for, right?