Posts Tagged With: hiking

Government Canyon State Natural Area Dino Walk

Driving between Austin and San Antonio we needed something to break up the day a little and chose to do a hike in the afternoon. Government Canyon looked interesting and the family was up for a small stop.   For some reason no matter what our plan is hiking always takes us longer in Texas.   This was no exception….

Government Canyon has over 40 miles of hiking trails according to their website, this place is huge!  They offer camping and we would like to try staying there in the future.  Camp sites are only $18.  Over the Christmas holiday the park is open more days than the usual weekends.  We hiked on a Tuesday and still encountered a dozen people over our trek.  The cost to use the park is $6 an adult. Kids under 12 are free.

IF it has been raining the trails will be closed.  I would not want to be stuck out hiking in a heavy rain event, you could visibly see where deep flooding has occurred.  So please check the Facebook page before heading out.

We parked and paid at the nature center with ample bathrooms.   Those are the only bathrooms we saw so I would recommend you use them before setting out on your hike.  Going in I knew it was 3 miles one way to our destination.  No big deal!

But this was much more hiking than walking.  The trail is very uneven and rock covered in several areas. I was too busy looking at my footing to take many pictures.

Government Canyon

A photo posted by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

There were cute little signs like IF you do not have water at this point turn back.  And part mile markers either direction to remind you how far you really did not walk the last fifteen minutes.

Government Canyon

A photo posted by Stretchingittotravel (@stretchingittotravel) on

The rattlesnake sign was at the almost halfway point.

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Not such a great idea of mine or aka the day the trail ended

By now you know I like to do fun things that are cheap/free on vacation.  I also like to show our daughter the local area and how it differs from where we live.  And getting off the road and taking a hike is usually a fun way to do this. We have in the past loved our hike around Mount Rainier and we hike in our local state parks.  I searched around and found the Santa Ana wildlife refuge near Alamo, Texas.

They offered an observation tower and canopy walk.  I don’t do heights but this would be right up my daughters alley.  She loves that type of thing. We drove from South Padre the night before to the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Weslaco to fulfill the stay two get 1 night promo.  The plan was to arrive early before it became too hot to walk around.

We arrived at the park around 8:30am and it was hot already! We paid our $3 for our car and received our wrist bands.  I didn’t pay alot of notice, I figured they wanted to know we paid. We went to the bathroom before our walk and noticed MANY signs about reporting people to border patrol.  They were on the mirror, on the back of the stall doors, and on the door back outside.  We got the message, and it was I think the same number on our blue wristbands.  We set off to see wildlife and experience nature!

Here we are all fresh and ready to go!


We saw wildlife!


To be fair Texas was in a drought state, everything seemed to be very dry. I however did not expect things to look like other southern states, somehow I thought it would look different.  We could have been in Florida for alot of these pictures with the moss in the trees.  The trails were nice and wide, easy to walk.


It was hot and I was a gross sweaty mess when we found the canopy walk. I don’t do heights so I sent the family up without me.

IMG_9680  IMG_9681

This was their view and they were not impressed by it. I was secretly glad I didn’t go up there for that!


At this point the walk a trail thing has been a huge fail.  We were hot, sweaty and disappointed.  We saw 1 rabbit and a butterfly the size of a paper plate about took out my child, but that was it.  (Happened so fast I didn’t even get a picture.) The little lake was pretty much dried up so nothing to see there.   I had to redeem this and quick!

I asked if daughter wanted to see the Rio Grand and maybe Mexico from the trail. She wanted to see the cemetery and there was a trail on the map that would make the loop around to do both.

We set off on our adventure to see the shore of Mexico.  I was really trying to salvage this hike, it was really hot even at 9:30am.


We had a nice wide path to follow, remember the wrist bands. They seemed to patrol this pretty often with a vehicle that we never saw.  And there was the Rio Grande.


Daughter found a couple of paths that went down to the river. And there is Mexico on the other side.  The hike was looking successful, we had seen Mexico and were off the to cemetery next!  And then in our path lay this…


And behind it was this odd landslide or washout. Either way the trail was not passable.


I was beyond irritated.  We had talked to people, they put wristbands on us but said nothing. We were in the visitor center and you couldn’t hang a sign, you couldn’t verbally tell me that Vireo trail was closed?  I wanted to call the number on my wrist and complain but I wasn’t sure who exactly that called!  They could have put a sign up when we turned down the trail by the river, anything!!!!!

So we are hot, sweaty, mad and walking back a over a mile in the same direction we had already walked.  The cemetery was not going to happen, it was over a mile in the other direction and I was melting.

This was the prettiest thing we saw on our hike.


We went back over the levee to our car, figured out how to change my shirt without flashing people and turned on the air conditioning.  Now we laugh about the trail to no-where and its turned into a family joke. But at the time I wanted my $3 back.  That cheap adventure was a major disappointment at every turn.

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