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
The Twin Oaks Trail begins a little after reaching the two mile point on Joe Johnston Route
. Look for the bench/trail map/marker combination present at most of the park's major intersections. The path begins as a fairly wide singletrack, taking a frequently winding path through tree canopy. The live oaks that give this trail its name are a staple of the Texas Hill Country, and they provide ample shade from the sun throughout the route.
As Twin Oaks climbs, it becomes a little more technical than the Joe Johnston Route
. Smooth and rocky sections alternate, and while there are a few tricky areas requiring some pathfinding through debris, they are usually short and not very troublesome. Users familiar with other Hill Country routes will find Twin Oaks to be familiar territory; this is a "stereotypical" central Texas trail.
Around a mile and a quarter in, the path passes its namesake twin oaks, seen off the trail to the right. A bench facing the trees here provides a rest opportunity. Continue onward to the northeast. The next three quarters of a mile is fairly flat and easy to manage.
Twin Oaks crosses Sendero Balcones
just after the two mile mark. A large sign is posted at the intersection. The remaining portion, a little over a half mile in length, is within the Protected Habitat Area and is the southernmost entry point. This region of the State Natural Area is restricted to pedestrians only and is open from September to February. A wooden barrier will be placed across the singletrack during closures.
The final portion is a counterclockwise circle, with a slow climb up and back down to the finish. The tree canopy opens up a few times along the way. The increased sunlight encourages grass growth, which can obscure underlying rocks at times, so use caution. Twin Oaks ends at Black Hill Loop
. From here, hikers can turn right to visit the furthest reaches of the park, or left to return to Sendero Balcones
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.