Dogs No Dogs
Government Canyon State Natural Area is open Friday through Monday, 7 am to 10 pm. Some additional openings are found around major holidays, and there may be closures after inclement weather to protect the trails. Check their website for updates, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/…
Admission for visitors 13 years and older is $6. Overnight camping is available.
Pets are allowed on the frontcountry trails only (Savannah Loop
and Lytle's Loop
in Government Canyon SNA are typical of those found in the Hill Country, meaning that rocky conditions are common and trail shoes are recommended. This can considerably slow many runners' "normal" pace, so plan for a longer time on the trail than the mileage may suggest.
San Antonio experiences hot, humid summers and mild winters. The months of June to September often experience highs in the triple digits. Plan around the hottest parts of the day and bring plenty of water, as none is available away from the trailheads. Also be sure to pack out any waste produced during a visit; the SNA overlays the Edwards Aquifer and all runoff will eventually end up in the city's water supply.
Cougars, bobcats and rattlesnakes are part of the wildlife. Cougar sightings are uncommon but a potential danger; they are most active at dusk and sunrise. If out on the trail at these times, avoid running alone, and keep children and pets close at hand.
A short, easy route between Joe Johnston Route
and Sendero Balcones
, Little Windmill is also home to Government Canyon's backcountry camping area. The trail is much more open to the air than others in the area, and can be a welcome relief for runners turning off from some of the nearby technical routes.
The western end of the trail begins as a flat packed dirt doubletrack, though it narrows quickly down to standard singletrack. A pit bathroom is located a few hundred feet down the trail to the left and is impossible to miss. A huge grassy clearing follows soon after.
Around the halfway point, Little Windmill enters the trees and a few rocks join the mix, though it remains an easy run. The track parallels a dry creek bed briefly before ending at a signed intersection on Sendero Balcones
, just across from Black Hill Loop
and the Protected Habitat Area.
Flora & Fauna
The Texas Hill Country is well known for its abundant tree life. Government Canyon exhibits a number of these varieties, including mountain laurel, Ashe juniper, mesquite and live oak. Birds and deer are the most common animals encountered in the area.
Shared By: Brendan Ross