Throughout Texas Hill Country you will have access to state parks, caves, wineries, nature centers, lakes, rivers, trails, and historic places. Although we did not include any wineries in this list, each of the others are present. All of these adventures make Texas Hill Country worth visiting, and they are near San Antonio. It’s no secret, San Antonio is filled with hiking trails, dog friendly places and “must-see” attractions. However, if you desire to see, and do, more adventurous stuff, you will arrive in Hill Country.
Why Hill Country is Worth Visiting Near San Antonio
There are many things worth doing in San Antonio, but here you will find that Texas Hill Country opens up some extraordinary possibilities. Enjoy this spectacular list of “must-see” places in Texas Hill Country. We adventure to these, and other places near San Antonio, every week. You will find the address and directions to all 12 places discussed here.
Guadalupe Park and River Trail
This park is on the southeast side of Canyon lake where the Guadalupe River exits the Canyon Lake Dam. The area is great for hiking and fishing. It has a short, moderately difficult trail which follows the Guadalupe River for about two miles. There is no restroom at this park, and you must return the way you came.
The trail is open year round from dawn until dusk. There is no charge to use the park, and it is dog friendly. This was the first area we visited at Canyon lake, and it was a slightly challenging natural hike with a great view of the Guadalupe River. Get more information on this park – Guadalupe River Trail – Hiking Canyon Lake, Texas.
Overlook Park at Canyon Lake
Address: 601 Coe Rd, Canyon Lake, TX 78133
This park is a short walk to the west of Guadalupe Park, on the southeast side of Canyon Lake. The parking area (which is incredibly small) at the top of the hill provides a fantastic view of Canyon Lake. There are two gravel trails leading down to the rocky beach. The beach is a great place to swim, float, hike, or hangout. It is also dog friendly. The area is very rocky and will require adequate footwear if you plan to hike.
Although there aren’t specific trails to hike, you may use the gravel paths, beach, or wander through the woods. Like Guadalupe Park, Scenic Overlook Park is also free. The park is open from sunrise to sunset all year. There are portable restrooms near the parking area, but very few spaces can be found, leaving people with no choice but to park along the street. You can discover more information here – Things to do at Scenic Overlook Park.
Canyon Lake in Comal County, Texas
Canyon Lake is the largest lake near San Antonio and is approximately 40 miles northeast of the city. The lake is surrounded by camps, parks, RV resorts, residences, and boating docks. Canyon lake is a popular place to swim, boat, hike, float, and hangout. It is a true oasis in an otherwise hot and dry location. The first two places on this list are the best we have found at Canyon Lake.
Other Parks Near Canyon Lake
There are several other parks around Canyon Lake such as Canyon Park and Comal Park. However, the other parks are for paid guests, and they are not open during winter. Some of these parks may have trails, but they are primarily used for boating and swimming. North Park can be accessed from Overlook Park by walking across the Canyon Lake Dam. It’s definitely worth visiting in Texas Hill Country.
James Curry Nature Center can be found directly south of Scenic Overlook Park. It provides no view of the lake, but you will see the surrounding wooded hills. The trail is a wide gravel loop with an incline, decline, and steps. It is entirely possible to visit Guadalupe Park, Scenic Overlook Park, and James Curry Nature Center in the same day, as we did.
Cascade Caverns in Boerne, Texas
Address: 226 Cascade Cavern, Boerne, TX 78015
Phone: (830) 755-8080
Hours of operation: 9am – 5pm
Caves are an excellent place to hike, especially during the summer because it is cooler underground. Since 1932, Cascade Caverns has been providing tours of the limestone caves in Boerne, Texas. These caves descend to a depth of 132 feet. You will need to manage stairs on the way down and back up. The living cave is filled with tubular stalactites, and has only one remaining waterfall. This waterfall was artificially made to mimic one of the previous seven which used to flow in the early 1900’s.
The regular tour lasts approximately one hour and costs $20. You will travel approximately half a mile through damp and dark areas, which maintain a temperature in the mid sixties. The space will often be tight around you, and the ceiling may require you to duck underneath. The caverns are open year round from 9am – 5pm, but have been known to close due to flooding. Call ahead to be sure you get in at your convenience. You can access the caverns from I-10, southeast of Boerne.
Cave Without a Name in Boerne, Texas
Address: 325 Kreutzberg Rd, Boerne, TX 78006
Phone: (830) 537-4212
Hours of operation: 9am – 6pm
This cave is located on the northeast side of Boerne, in-between a section of the Guadalupe River. It was never given a name because a boy once said it was too beautiful to have one. Tours have been provided in these caves since 1940. They also maintain a temperature in the mid sixties. The descent is only 90 feet, but this still requires a climb of over 100 stairs on the way back up to the surface.
Cave Without A Name has chambers which are very large compared to what you will find at Cascade Caverns. In one chamber they host concerts several times a year due to the outstanding acoustics. These chambers are well lit and allow you to see many stalagmites and stalactites. You may also get a good look at some bats, scorpions, or the blind salamanders which are said to reside only within these caves. The caves are open from 9am – 6pm year round, and standard $20 tours last about one hour.
Hiking near San Antonio gives you the opportunity to adventure through miles of trails which are both above and below ground. There are hiking trails above ground at Cave Without A Name as well. I wish I could have brought my dog, Abbey, but the caves are not dog friendly. Any cave in Texas Hill Country is worth visiting.
Cibolo Creek Nature Center in Boerne, Texas
Address: 140 City Park Rd, Boerne, TX 78006
Coincidentally, this wonderful place also happens to be in Boerne, Texas. Boerne is a lovely little town about 30 miles north of San Antonio. The Cibolo Creek Nature Center has three miles of trails. Each trail takes you on a journey through marshlands, fields with tall grass, and the woods along Cibolo Creek. The nature center is a unique place to go hiking near San Antonio.
Things to Do at Cibolo Nature Center
The visitors center is open from 9am – 5pm during the week, and the trails are open from dawn until dusk. On the trails you may see dinosaur footprints, horses, and other forms of wildlife. Half of the trails are well shaded, while the other half leave you exposed to direct sunlight. This protected area is on a much larger piece of land known as Herff Farm. There are frequent events and a farmers market which you will find listed on their website.
To discover more information about our visit you can read – Why Dogs Love the Cibolo Creek Nature Center.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock is the first Texas State Park on this list. You can find the pink granite rock 17 miles north of Fredericksburg, or about 84 miles north of San Antonio. The view from the top of Enchanted Rock is like no other in the area. As you can see from the appearance, the Rock is a very unique place. This is one of our favorite places to visit while hiking near San Antonio.
On this list, Enchanted Rock is the furthest place from San Antonio, but it had to be mentioned. In addition to climbing the Rock, there are also 11 miles of hiking trails at the park. The outer loop and camping areas are dog friendly. Sadly, dogs are not allowed to climb the summit trails. The entry fee is $7 if you do not hold a Texas State Parks Pass. Make your plans to arrive early, or you could be denied access if the park fills up. Reservations are available on the park website. Water cannot be found in abundance, so bring it with you.
Things to Do at Enchanted Rock
You can read more about some of our adventures at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Fredericksburg, Texas, below. We’ve visited this state park several times because the views of Texas Hill Country alone make it worth visiting.
Hill Country State Natural Area
Hill Country State Natural Area is not the only Texas State Park in Hill Country, but it may contain the most scenic views. The 5,000 acre park is approximately 60 miles west of San Antonio, and contains 40 miles of natural trails. The park is filled with loop trails, hills, and provides spectacular views in all directions. If you have an interest in scenic views and trails reminiscent of the Old West, this park must be on your list while hiking near San Antonio.
Things to Do at Hill Country State Natural Area
Hill Country State Natural Area is open daily from 8am – 5pm. Parking is limited and confined to the center of the park. Camping or lodging must be reserved in advance. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed to stay in the lodge. To get more information, or make a reservation you can contact the park at 1-800-792-1112. A fee of $6 is required to enter the park without a Texas State Parks Pass.
The most popular activity at Hill Country State Natural Area seemed to be horseback riding. We saw more horses on the trails than hikers during our visit. Visitors may bring their own horse(s) to the park, or a mountain bike, but some of the trails may require you to walk. Although many trails contain very little shade, the surrounding hills and scenic views will give you a true glimpse of the Old West.
Checkout our adventure to this amazing park – Hill Country State Natural Area – Your Scenic Wild West Adventure Awaits.
Guadalupe River State Park
This Texas State Park is located 13 miles east of Boerne, and approximately 30 miles north of San Antonio. There is access to the Guadalupe River on the north side of the park, which divides the park into two sections. To the north you will find eight miles of hiking trails, and on the south side you will find another eight. Trails on both sides provide an excellent view of the Guadalupe River. Guadalupe River State Park is a great option for hiking near San Antonio.
Things to Do at Guadalupe River State Park
Once again, you will need to pay a $7 entrance fee if you do not have a Texas State Parks Pass. The list of things to do at Guadalupe River State Park is so large, you will probably need to make multiple visits. The park is open from 8am – 10pm, and the discovery center is only open on the weekends. The park is dog friendly, and the most popular activity was swimming during our visit.
If interested in their weekend events, or viewing a trail map, you can find those on their website.
Swimming and paddling the Guadalupe River make this park in Texas Hill Country worth visiting during warmer weather. You can also find more detailed information, and photos of both sides of the park in our other articles.
Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Ranch
This Texas State Park is also a National Historic Site, and it is one of the only free Texas State Parks in the area. It is also the home of our 36th President, Lyndon B. Johnson. Although free to visit, it is only open from 8:30am – 4pm. The State Park and Ranch are split by the Pedernales River. It is about 65 miles north of San Antonio, and 10 miles east of Fredericksburg.
Things to Do
Things to Do at LBJ State Park and Ranch
On the south side of the Pedernales River you will find the Living History Farm, mile long hiking trail, wildflower area, statue, and State Park visitors center. North of the river you will find the LBJ Ranch. A one way road makes a loop around a runway, and allows visitors to park near the ranch visitors center. How many longhorns will you see on the loop? The answer to that can only be determined by keeping track. Just watch out for those near the road.
Near the end of the loop you will reach the ranch. You cannot miss it because there is a jet in front of the visitors center. You may enter the front of the jet and get a quick view of the interior. At the visitors center you can watch a short video about LBJ, checkout the exhibits, or purchase tickets to tour the Texas White House.
Visit the park website to view the map and schedule of events. It’s very easy to spend the entire day at LBJ State Park and Ranch, so try to arrive as early as possible. To see more photos, and get more details about this National Historic Site, read our article – LBJ State Park & Ranch – 3 Reasons to Go.
Natural Bridge Caverns
Phone: (210) 651-6101
Unlike the previous two caverns, Natural Bridge Caverns is similar to a theme park. In addition to hiking through limestone caves there are many other things to keep you busy the entire day. Natural Bridge Caverns also contains a canopy obstacle course, zip line, trading post, mining village, and outdoor maze. A few miles away they also host the Bracken bat flight.
Natural Bridge Caverns has a more extensive area of caves to tour, which can last from one to three hours. The prices on the standard tours change slightly based on popularity, but the average price seems to be about $20 for an hour. The other attractions must be purchased separately. Tickets for the bat emergence are extremely rare, and you can purchase those with one of the other attractions such as the cave tour. You can purchase tickets on their website in advance.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is also in the area. You may see more than 40 species as you drive through, or hike the property. A few animals you might see include bison, camels, kangaroo, and rhinoceros. The price for adults is $22, while kids get in for $13.50, and you can make a reservation on the website.
Old Tunnel State Park in Fredericksburg, TX
This Texas State Park is located 60 miles north of San Antonio, and is just south of Fredericksburg. Here the bat emergence takes place from May to October on a much more frequent schedule. Millions of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the cave during evenings when weather permits. There is a half mile hiking trail which is open year round at the park, but the emergence only takes place throughout the summer.
If you arrive at Old Tunnel State Park in the summer at 5:30pm, you can purchase tickets to the lower deck viewing area for $5. There is also an upper deck viewing area which is free. The lower deck is near the tunnel, and many of the bats will fly by as they fill the sky in swarms. The upper deck is on top of the tunnel, and the bats do not fly near it.
The bats do not always come out at the same exact time every evening. When we visited Old Tunnel State Park the bats emerged around 8pm. Prior to the emergence, one of the park rangers provided the lower viewing deck with education on the bats. The emergence can go on for hours, and it will be dark before the bats completely exit the tunnel. Be careful driving away from the park on the country roads because many animals may be on the road, or near the roadside.
If you need to get more information on the bat emergence you can contact the park on their website.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Approximately 70 miles north of San Antonio is where you will find this Texas State Park. Austin is only 32 miles east of Pedernales Falls State Park, and Johnson City is even closer, being nine miles to the west. The park has only been open since the early 1970’s, but it offers great views and miles of hiking trails.
Pedernales Falls has more than 5,000 acres, and is open daily from 8am – 10pm. However, the park fills up fast and you will be turned away once maximum capacity is reached. We have visited this park several times, and they were turning people away shortly before noon. If you make a camping reservation you should be able to get in no matter what. You can reserve your spot at Pedernales Falls State Park on their website. If you do not have a reservation you should arrive as early as possible.
At Pedernales Falls it is often possible to walk out onto the Pedernales River because the low water level exposes large sections of rock. My girl, Abbey, accidentally fell into one of the water pockets and I had to quickly scoop her out! She absolutely hates being wet, but she dried off quickly in the hot sun. There are a bunch of large rocks which are fun to climb, in addition to the 30+ miles of hiking trails inside the park. The Pedernales River and Juniper Ridge Trail make this park in Hill Country worth visiting.
Things to Do
Things to Do at Pedernales Falls State Park
View more photos, and read about our adventure in the article – Pedernales Falls – Dog Friendly Hiking in Texas.
Upon arriving at the park entrance you will need to continue driving a few miles north to reach the Pedernales River. There is an entrance fee of $6 if you do not have a Texas State Parks Pass. Hiking trails in the area are well shaded, but those for horseback riders are much more open. It will most likely take several visits to see all that this park has to offer. However, it is dog friendly and has some unique views, which make it well worth the trip.
These Are the Best Places Worth Visiting Near San Antonio in Texas Hill Country
These are 12 of the best places we have found while hiking in Texas Hill Country. The Alamo city contains hundreds of parks, an amazing riverwalk, and a few “must see” attractions. However, in order to find some of the best hiking trails and views, one must adventure through Texas Hill Country. From the depths beneath the surface to the highest hilltop, we have traveled this spectacular landscape. Texas Hill Country is worth visiting everyday.
Feel free to share your photos and adventures with us below. What things have you seen in Hill Country? Whether you are a resident or visitor, checkout our Indisputable Guide for hiking in San Antonio. Please let us know if these resources have been helpful to you, and share them on your favorite social media sites so others can find them as well.
I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it.
We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site.
Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly. I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.