It is amazing how often one can drive past an interesting sign, be intrigued by it and determine to follow it or find out what it signifies, but fail to actually ever do so. Over the past few years I have been determined to actually follow through and learning the stories behind those intriguing signs — and, naturally, to share that information.
One sort of sign I have periodically noticed on the roads north and northwest of San Antonio depicts the blue silhouette of a stag beside a field bearing the words “Texas Hill Country Trail.” These can be found in a number of places throughout the area (e.g., some points along Highway 46, the intersection of FM-2673 and FM-2722 between Sattler and Startzville).
Texas Hill Country Trails are part of a statewide historical preservation and tourism program started in 1997 by theTexas Historical Commission — which “protects, preserves and promotes the state’s historic and cultural resources, providing tourists with opportunities to learn about Texas’ rich heritage”—and represent one of 10 “heritage regions” around the state. These also include the Brazos, Forest, Forts, Lakes, Independence, Mountain, Pecos, Plains,and Tropical Trail Regions. Their origins, however, actually date to nearly three decades earlier.
“The Texas Heritage Trails Program is based around 10 scenic driving trails created in 1968 by Gov. John Connally and the Texas Highway Department as a marketing tool,” the program’s website explains. “The trails were established in conjunction with the HemisFair, an international exposition that commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio.”
Overall, the Texas Hill Country Trail is an immense loop, hundreds of miles long, that incorporates 19 counties and touches San Antonio in the south, the Austin area in the east, Bluffton in the north, and Camp Wood at the far western end of the region. It runs through some of the most picturesque spots and communities in the region, including New Braunfels, Marble Falls, and Fredericksburg. Anyone living in the area has already driven on some stretches of the trail— if only inadvertently— and it can provide some interesting opportunities for learning about what our area has to offer. (It can also be something enjoyable to incorporate into your route if you are Taking a Day Trip to Wimberley).
Indeed, the Texas Historical Commission has several suggested itineraries for each trail, and those for the Texas Hill Country Trail include ones devoted to caves, gardens, ghost towns, historic churches, living history, and scenic drive that emphasize the wildflower displays that are unsurpassed anywhere else. Its web site also has an online tool for creating custom itineraries, and information on hundreds of attractions, upcoming events, and other news and information pertinent to the Hill Country region.