Camps and Trails at Stephen F Austin State Park

Stephen F Austin State Park is a 660 acre Texas State Park between Houston and San Antonio. I’ve quickly learned most places in Texas are named after someone historically significant, and this park is no different. In fact, this park is the site where Stephen Fuller Austin led a colony before Texas existed. This gave him the honor of being called the “Father of Texas.” Does that make Stephen F Austin State park the “Father of Texas State Parks?”

The Barred Owl Trail at Stephen Austin State Park.
Stephen F Austin State Park

The Father of Texas State Parks

Stephen F Austin State Park is dog friendly, and there are only a few things to do at the park. The hiking trails and things to do may be few in comparison to other state parks, but the place is full of history. In fact, you can stay at one of many camps where original settlers once camped.

  • Dog friendly
  • Public restrooms
  • Tent sites
  • Cabins
  • Showers
  • Dining hall
  • Hiking trails

How to Get to Stephen F Austin State Park

Address: Park Rd 38, San Felipe, TX 77473

Fees: $5 without a Texas State Parks Pass

Stephen F Austin State Park Trail Map

This Texas State Park is located along the Brazos River in San Felipe, Texas. It is very easy to find via I-10, several miles west of Katy. Head north on FM 1458, and hang a left when you reach Park Road 38. This road will bend to the right and take you directly into the state park. If you cross the Brazos River on FM 1458 you have gone too far.

A view of the cabins from the hiking trail at Stephen F Austin State Park.

You will notice the Stephen Austin Golf Course as you enter. Stop at the tiny headquarters to pay the $5 entrance fee if you do not hold a Texas State Parks Pass. Office hours vary throughout the week, but you can use the self pay station if it is closed. The gate closes at 10pm. Plan ahead and get the gate code from the office if you need to get in or out after 10pm.

If you are visiting Stephen F Austin State Park for hiking, there are several parking areas to choose from as you drive through. Check the map and choose a spot near the trail you wish to hike. Watch out for deer on the road after you cross the creek. Staff at the HQ warned us they would be there, and they were not wrong.

Things to Do at Stephen F Austin State Park

Abbey and I visited on a comfortable afternoon because we wanted to hike the trails. I quickly noticed all of the cabins and tent sites as we parked. I thought camping was probably the most popular activity at this park, and the webs I passed through on the first trail confirmed the idea.

There are more than 100 camping sites which include primitive tent sites, water only sites, and full hookup sites. Now that we know they exist, we will have to return to camp at Stephen F Austin State Park in the future. If you plan on camping at the park, here are a list of the rules.

Camping Rules

  • Check in time is 2pm
  • Check out time is 12pm
  • Vehicles must remain on pavement at all times
  • No more than 8 people at a campsite
  • Children under 15 must be supervised at all times
  • Pets must be monitored and leashed at all times
  • Quiet hours are from 10pm – 6am
  • Alcohol is not allowed at the park
  • Gathering firewood is not allowed at the park
  • Gray and black water must be discharged at dump stations
  • Stay on the trails while hiking
  • Do not leave food out or feed the wildlife
  • Park gate locks at 10pm

Hiking and Biking Trails

Despite the fact the park is well over 600 acres, the hiking trails do not quite reach five miles in total distance. Furthermore, some paths may be inaccessible after it has rained. On the park map you will notice nine marked trails, forming at least six different loops throughout the park.

Hiking all of the trails will lead you about 4.8 miles along the Brazos River, and around the campsites. If you enjoy learning about the environment you should begin with the short nature trail because it is littered with information.

Abbey on the nature trail at Stephen F Austin State Park.
The trails are dog friendly at Stephen F Austin State Park

Each of the trails are easy to maneuver with small changes in elevation here and there. The Pileated and Ironwood trails form a nearly two mile loop around the campsites. We saw deer, squirrels and rabbits along these trails. The east side of the Ironwood trail backs to the golf course, which you can make out through the trees at certain times. You do not need to carry the map with you because the park has conveniently added signs next to the trailheads.

If you take the Barred Owl Trail on the north side of the park you can see the Brazos River. The trail practically touches the river at two points, but a small cliff separates them. However, it does provide a wide view of the Brazos River. We could hear other forms of wildlife making noise across the river while dusk drew near. As we looped back around we noticed large birds atop one of the trees. Be careful because they may cause branches and other things to drop down.

The Brazos River at Stephen F Austin State Park.
The Brazos River

Stephen F Austin

You may recognize this name because many places are named in his honor. Texas is big in terms of size, but it is also big on naming places after people. The state capital, a county, a bayou, and several educational institutions are some places bearing Austin’s name. He is known as the “Father of Texas” because he led hundreds of the original families here in the early 1800’s. Those families are now known as the “Old Three Hundred”.

Eventually the colonists resisted the Mexican government. Although he had no military experience, Austin led a volunteer Texian army to victory in the Siege of Bexar. He later ran in the first Texas presidential election. Austin believed he was close to victory until Sam Houston joined the race in the final two weeks.

Houston, another important historical figure, won in a landslide, but named Austin the first secretary of state. Unfortunately, Austin died later that year of pneumonia, but not before the independence of Texas was recognized. Many other things happened to Stephen F Austin which you may, or may not care about. You can find more information on the Texas State Historical Association website.

What Things Will You Do at Stephen F Austin State Park?

I noticed a few things that make Stephen F Austin State Park unique. It backs to a river and golf course. The park seemed empty although it is considered the busy time of year. Camping sites are abundant. The trails near the river were very lush, but others were not.

Strands of greenery dangle from certain trees and have the appearance of icicles in the sunlight. I noticed bike tracks on the north side of the park where it was still slightly damp. Some of the trails look fun to bike, but others twist and turn making the risk of collision high.

Looking for other Texas State Parks nearby? Checkout Monument Hill State Park (west), Lake Somerville State Park (northwest), Brazos Bend State Park (southeast), and several in Houston to the east. Stephen F Austin State Park is the first we have visited in the area. We normally do our dog friendly hiking in San Antonio, as well as some spectacular places in the Hill Country. However, we intend to visit more of the Houston area soon. I wonder what interesting things we will learn on those trails?

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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