How Long is the Hike to Old Baldy at Garner State Park?

Old Baldy is a hill at Garner State Park in Concan, Texas. Garner is the most popular state park in Texas Hill Country for several reasons. Old Baldy is one of those reasons, and provides a spectacular 360-degree view of the hills. The Old Baldy Summit Trail is dog friendly and will not take long to hike.

A view of Old Baldy and the Hill Country at Garner State Park.
Old Baldy from Bridges Trail

Climbing Old Baldy (Video)

On our second visit to what may be the best park in Hill Country, we expected to get some photos of the sunset. However, the storm sweeping through the hills had other plans. Catch glimpses of Garner State Park and Texas Hill Country as we hike Old Baldy in this video. Witness the encroaching storm beyond the hills as the birds swarm above the Frio River.

How Far is Garner State Park from San Antonio, TX?

Address: 234 RR 1050, Concan, TX 78838

Fees: It costs $8 to enter Garner State Park without a Texas State Parks Pass

Hours of operation: Garner State Park is open from 8am – 10pm

Garner State Park is about 100 miles west of San Antonio, Texas, and approximately a two hour drive. It’s a fairly long drive, but the trails and things to do at Garner State Park are worth the trip. This article is about hiking Old Baldy, but you can read our previous article about Garner State Park for more things to do, and trail information.

Old Baldy from the summit trail.
The Summit Trail

How High is Old Baldy?

Old Baldy peaks at about 1850 feet above sea level in Concan, Texas. It’s difficult to say whether or not this is the highest elevation inside Garner State Park. There are several other peaks, but the areas have been rounded to 1800 feet on the Garner State Park Trail Map.

One thing is certain, Old Baldy provides the best view in the park. Hills, trees and birds of prey can be seen in every direction. Follow the Frio River as it enters the park from the north and winds through the canyons heading east.

The hills inside this park seem high, but they are several hundred feet below the highest peaks in Hill Country. Old Baldy is about the same height as Enchanted Rock. However, there are three major differences between the two. Old Baldy is dog friendly, the summit trail is easy to find, and there are better views in the vicinity.

Enchanted Rock is much smoother, and the climb feels steeper. You will have far reaching views, but the area outside of the park is much flatter. Dogs are no longer allowed to climb Enchanted Rock because of heat exhaustion. Share your thoughts in the comments section if you have climbed both of these hills.

Birds of prey soar above the Frio River at Garner State Park.
Birds of prey above the Frio River

Hiking the Summit Trail at Garner State Park in Texas

The Old Baldy Trailhead is next to the Pecan Grove Camping Area. There is a parking area across from the trailhead. If it’s full you can find other parking lots inside the camping area. The rock face of Old Baldy is hard to miss from this area. Take in the view from the bottom because you will be heading to the top of the hill.

Hang a left along the trailhead and you will be met with a couple of steep climbs, and views of the hills to the north. The summit trail will quickly level off, but more steep sections are ahead. Wind your way through the woods at a steady incline to the east.

You may see the rock face a couple of times as you approach the peak on your route. Pay attention to the trail and watch for signs because there are off-shooting trails. These may take you the same direction, but they will be more challenging.

The total distance of the summit trail is only half a mile and may be challenging if you are less experienced. Once you exit the woods you will need to maneuver the rocks. The final stretch is about as difficult as the initial steep climbs. You can choose between smooth sections, or rocks which act more like steps. You will hike around rocks, trees and cacti before reaching the peak.

The Frio River at Garner State Park.
The Frio River from the Summit Trail

The Top of Old Baldy

This peak is arguably the best part about Garner State Park. There is no other view like it. There are hundreds of hills in the distance. The Frio River can be seen flowing for miles through the hills. You can also get a glimpse of the other hiking trails which run through the hills inside the park.

Surprisingly, we don’t normally see too many other hikers on the other trails. If you don’t hike the other trails you will miss out on caves, and other views of the river and the hills, including Old Baldy. From the top of Old Baldy, we could also hear many people playing in the river in different areas.

A pile of rocks and an elevation sign are two markers on top of this hill. It is possible to hike all the way around the peak, or enjoy the views for awhile. Unfortunately, a storm was heading our way and we decided to loop around to Bridges Trail. You do not want to get stuck on these hills during a storm. The route down will be very slick and even more dangerous.

Abbey conquers the Old Baldy Summit Trail at Garner State Park.
The Old Baldy Summit is dog friendly!

15 Minutes to Hike Old Baldy

We easily hiked Old Baldy in fifteen minutes, which includes time spent getting a few photos. It’s a short and fun hike to an amazing hilltop. The hike could be completed quicker, but we weren’t going for speed. It may take you a bit longer to reach the top of Old Baldy if you are less experienced, hiking with kids, or wearing inadequate footwear. I used a new pair of Keen hiking shoes which worked perfectly on the way up and down.

Remember to bring water, wear hiking shoes and follow the summit trail. There are cliffs around Old Baldy and the smooth sections of rock will be very slippery when wet. Even though the trail is dog friendly, it may be difficult for older, or smaller dogs. There are at least four hills you can hike with your dog at Garner State Park. Our dog has conquered them all. No other park in Hill Country can match the elevation gains on the trails at this park.

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.

David Earley


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