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Outer Loop

Difficult
 3.5 (11) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A loop route through the Government Canyon State Natural Area (Backcountry).


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Map Key

12.0

Miles

19.2

KM

80%

Singletrack

1,379' 420 m

High

1,031' 314 m

Low

797' 243 m

Up

797' 243 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (1°)

14%

Max Grade (8°)

Dogs No Dogs

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-

Heavy rains will close the trails, and also it is only open Friday through Monday. There could also be flowing/standing water on the trails after heavy rains; typically found on Joe Johnston by the dinosaur tracks.

Overview

The Outer Loop brings together the trails of Joe Johnston, Caroline's Loop, Sendero Balcones (north), Far Reaches Trail and Recharge Trail to take the rider on an 11.8-mile ride around the GCSNA Backcountry.

Need to Know

There are several overlook locations built along the trail. There is a 'rustic' restroom off Joe Johnston if needed.

There are NO WATER POINTS!

If riding in the summer months, ensure you bring plenty of fluids on your person. Along Joe Johnston, if you choose to not take Caroline's Loop, you'll find dinosaur tracks along the trail. There is a restroom on Little Windmill near its intersection with Joe Johnston.

Description

The Outer Loop route can be ridden in either direction. Although clockwise seems to be less challenging as you are going down more the rock shelves than climbing them. It begins on Joe Johnston at the Backcountry Trailhead.

From there, it is either 0.8 miles to go counterclockwise to Recharge Trail or 2.6 miles to Caroline's Loop. Caroline's Loop covers 2.3 miles and reconnects you to Joe Johnston for 0.7 miles before it turns into Sendero Balcones (north).

Caroline's Loop starts to draw you the picture of what to expect on Sendero Balcones (north) in terms of rock gardens and shelves. At the end of the north section of Sendero Balcones, you'll hit the intersection (marked with signs and a stump marker) of Wildcat Canyon, the continuation of Sendero Balcones (south) and Far Reaches Trail.

Turning onto Far Reaches Trail, the rocks become a little less prevalent, but still provide for a technical ride. Towards the end of Far Reaches Trail, it becomes a nice, rolling singletrack that you can open up on as it transitions into Recharge Trail and the end of the ride.

Contacts

Shared By:

Leonard Box

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 11 votes

#2245

Overall
  3.5 from 11 votes
5 Star
36%
4 Star
18%
3 Star
18%
2 Star
18%
1 Star
9%
Recommended Route Rankings

#79

in Texas

#2,245

Overall
207 Views Last Month
4,574 Since Jun 28, 2016
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Photos

It's always a good sign when the spring wildflowers choose to conform to your colors.
May 1, 2017 near Helotes, TX
Some nice smooth trails near Joe Johnson
Oct 9, 2019 near Helotes, TX
Nice tree cover on Joe Johnson
Oct 9, 2019 near Helotes, TX
Rocky uphill path going around Caroline's loop
Oct 9, 2019 near Helotes, TX
Riding up Joe Johnson.
Jun 28, 2016 near Helotes, TX
Lots of rocks on the outer loop near sendero balcones
Oct 9, 2019 near Helotes, TX

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Jan 19, 2020
Chas Semon
Jan 5, 2020
Kenneth Fulton
Apr 5, 2019
Marco Gonzalez
Mar 23, 2019
Pirate Lady
Jan 13, 2019
Dan Erwin
Couple of wet spots but very rideable. North half of the park was closed. Took the Wildcat cutoff. 7.5mi
Aug 6, 2018
Jared Luckey
Tough ride but fun 10.8mi
Aug 4, 2018
G M
Jul 3, 2018
Aaron Hinze
Did not complete entire loop. Lots of loose rock, creek bed style riding non stop.