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Government Canyon State Natural Area, “where the (Texas) Hill Country begins,” is the home of one of the planet’s most endangered species, the Golden-cheeked Warbler.

My husband, friends and I heard the tiny songbird while we were hiking through the 8,624-acre natural area in northwest San Antonio this past weekend, but we didn’t see one until the end of our 4-mile hike up the Wildcat Canyon Trail and down the Sendero Balcones Trail.

I’d seen photos of a Golden-cheeked Warbler before, but I’d never seen one in person. Its bright yellow face with a black racing stripe was stunning. According to Audubon’s website, people “make the pilgrimage from all over the world to see this special songbird.” I understand why.

Government Canyon State Natural Area’s mission is to educate visitors about the conservation and stewardship of our natural resources. They are especially keen to educate visitors about the significance of the Edwards Aquifer, the primary source of water for the citizens of San Antonio and South Central Texas. The natural area is located on more than 7,500 acres of the aquifer’s recharge zone, and a memorial to Fay Sinkin, “the mother of aquifer protection,” graces the visitor’s center.

Friends of Government Canyon offer a variety of volunteer-led activities each month. This upcoming weekend, April 2 & 3, they’re hosting an event for families who are new to camping. They’ll provide all of the gear. You provide your food. The cost is $65 for a family (up to six). For reservations, call (512) 389-8903 and speak to a Texas Outdoor Family representative.

To treat yourself for getting your federal income taxes in on time, attend the (Not a) Tax Hike on Friday, April 15. Call (210) 688-9055 for reservations. You may also follow this non-profit organization on Facebook.

With a beautiful visitor’s center designed by Lake|Flato to enjoy and more than 40 miles of trails to explore, you’ll need more than one day at this San Antonio treasure.

Government Canyon is located 3.5 miles northwest of Loop 1604 on Culebra Road, then 1.6 miles to 12861 Galm Road. Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Monday. Phone: (210) 688-9055.