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An unexpected wonder where you travel over and around fields of rocks and boulders.

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Map Key





Point to Point

964' 294 m


872' 266 m


92' 28 m


83' 25 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (8°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Lake · Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly There are tons of smaller boulders and rocks for kids to scamper around on. Pay attention as it can be easy for younger kids to become disoriented with so many boulders and thick underbrush.

Penitentiary Hollow does close when there is any notable rainfall to reduce wear and erosion on the already popular area. Signage is posted at the gate upon entrance to the park as well as at the northern parking lot at the entrance to the area. All restrictions or alerts can be viewed at the park's website.


You can begin your journey at either end of this trail. It is a bit easier to navigate if you start on the southern end of the trail as outlined in this description.

If starting from the northern end, by Penitentiary Hollow, it can be difficult to get on the actual trail as there are lots of climbing trail offshoots throughout this area. When starting from the southern parking area, you follow the trail quickly down a fairly steep grade over many rocks of all sizes. Utilize the red trail markers to find your way.

Once at the bottom of the hill, the trail will head north and follow the shoreline of the lake, so close at times you almost feel like you might actually get wet. The trail surface is mostly rock laden, but does have some mixed hard pack intertwined here and there. The best advice for this short, but challenging hike is to pay attention to foot placement or you'll likely take a tumble. Also keep your eyes peeled for the red trail markers to ensure that you don't end up off trail at one of the many climbing areas.

Overall, this is the most enjoyable short trail you'll likely find within hours of here. It is home to some great rock formations and holds surprises around every corner.

Flora & Fauna

While mapping this trail, no snakes where observed, but rest assured they are present with so many rocks to hide under. Again, the best advice is not to get in a hurry and look where you are stepping to avoid any encounters with the serpent population.


Shared By:

John Shuttlesworth

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 5 votes


  4.0 from 5 votes
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Trail Rankings


in Texas


7 Views Last Month
1,114 Since May 12, 2017
Intermediate Intermediate



Steps to the trail
Apr 21, 2019 near Mineral…, TX
Looking into the climbing area
Apr 21, 2019 near Mineral…, TX
Down the trail to the lake
Apr 21, 2019 near Mineral…, TX
Enjoy pleasant views of Lake Mineral Wells from the trail.
May 15, 2017 near Mineral…, TX
This is just one of the many climbing areas that make up this area. This photo doesn't provide the proper scale to illustrate the size of these walls.
May 12, 2017 near Mineral…, TX
On the lake
Apr 21, 2019 near Mineral…, TX


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Aug 28, 2022
Abigail Cheney
Apr 18, 2022
Barbara Payne
A must to hike. My grandkids (9 & 12 years) will like this one 0.1mi
Feb 6, 2021
John Smith
Very rocky. Steep in certain places. Recommend hiking boots and trekking poles. 0.7mi — 10h 00m
Jul 18, 2020
Ryan Bowman
0.7mi — 0h 30m
Mar 17, 2019
Curry Perkins
Nov 23, 2018
Erik Lackey
Rock climbing!
Jul 9, 2018
Danny Laurel
May 18, 2018
Analena Rosario

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