|The rustic headquarters building at Hill Country SNA|
|Trailhead across from the parking area near headquarters|
Since the area had seen some heavy rains recently, I planned a hike to avoid low lying areas and any creeks as much as possible without hiking portions of the park we had already seen. And because we are not as adventurous as we were just a few years ago, I tried to pick easier trails. On the park map, single and double track trails are clearly indicated, so I picked a trail with double tracks hoping that the trail would be clear.
|A double-track trail. This was near the beginning of trail 8. Actually, this is a road to me, much more than a "double-track" trail. But I'm not complaining a bit.|
|There were quite a few trees and much brush along the trail, but I was able to snap this view of surrounding hills.|
|The trail passes to the left of this old ranch structure.|
Depending on your location, the trail surface is a mix. On most slopes and high ground, the surface tends towards exposed rock. Most loose stones range in size from golf ball to football size. Much rock is embedded in the ground with jagged edges jutting up to trip you. Regardless, you really have to watch your step around all the rock. Along lower elevations, especially near West Verde Creek, the trail is dirt and is rather easy walking.
|This picture clearly illustrates the mix of rocks you'll encounter, from loose stones to embedded rocks that jut above the ground's surface.|
|This photo, near the end of the utility ROW, illustrates both elevation change and the rocky nature of the trail.|
|More structures from ranching days. Horse trough in center. I guess the structure on left is some type of cistern, while the structure on the right might be a pump house of some sort.|
|From time to time, there are some nice views.|
|Ledge above West Verde Creek, seen in part below. Note trail on other side of creek.|
|The Chapas Group Camp Area is just an old ranch house. It sits in a lovely grove of oak trees along the banks of West Verde Creek.|
|Looking upstream along West Verde Creek from low-water crossing.|
|West Verde Creek. The ledge pictured several pictures above would be along the top of the ridge in the background of this picture.|
|This picture was taken after we crossed the creek. We emerged on the trail on the left, then worked our way across the creek on high points of ground. We kept relatively dry.|
We made a couple of attempts to cross the creek, but the water was too deep at those locations. So we continued to hike up the road towards headquarters. We then found a trail heading towards the creek near where Trail 9 hits the road. We found the creek to be rather shallow here and were able to successfully cross with only the soles of our shoes getting wet.
The trail from that point on was very easy. We met a couple of ladies on horseback and yielded the trail to them -- as trail etiquette warrants -- and soon found ourselves back on trail 8 heading for our truck.
This park offers some good hiking. The elevation changes are not too great. Because there are so many trails, you should be able to hike the park several times without repeating previous hikes.