If you are a trail runner in San Antonio, the Babcock Powerlines are pretty much a Right of Passage. This is a tough trail, off the beaten path. The hills are steep with scree and big steps. This is a technical trail.
The unofficial trailhead is located on Babcock, across the valley from Crown Ridge Canyon Park.
I’ve actually never seen anyone else running when I’ve done this trail. I did see 2 hikers one day. With the big steps, slope, and scree, this is not a good trail to do alone.
Fairweather Steve and I went out to explore a bit and check out what might eventually be a Camp Bullis road extension. This whole area is slated to be an improved park area for the public, but from what I read, there is no current master plan.
Steve may look like he is in a bit of pain on the run, and he was. He had completed a 3:30 marathon 4 days before this run, and had done a 25 mile bike ride earlier in the day. In fact, he met me at the trailhead about 20 minutes after his ride. This guy has true grit and determination!
Map of the Babcock to Kyle Seal segment of power lines:
Some notes on the map:
A) Unofficial trailhead; start here.
B) Power Line on the North with a loop around what appears to be a Camp Bullis Road extension
C) There be Dragons here. Not worth the side trip – briars and thorns. This area is also officially a park that does not exist.
D) Drainage pond from when this was a homestead site called Rancho Diana (the English Provisional Mansion is not there anymore, so don’t bother looking for it)
Starting out from the trailhead, you have a brief flat & overgrown section, then the hill begins. The climb up the first hill is pretty brutal. It is steep, with some big steps and scree. Head up to the top, and you will have a brief intersection with the La Canera Golf course. Just continue following the rough trail down the hill.
At the bottom of the first hill, there are a bunch of very large concrete drainage things. Head left to see Rancho Diana (very overgrown), Right to go to the recently built subdivision, or straight ahead for another hill.
Steve and I opted to go straight. The next hill is just as brutal, with a few more big steps to climb up. At the top of the hill, you’ll come upon a lot of dumped trash. We saw appliances, mattresses, various broken chairs, a piece of wall art, and broken pallets. Strangely enough there was also an unopened gallon jar of Pickled Pepper Rings
We followed the trail to Kyle Seal Parkway. Turn left on the road and take the sidewalk down maybe 80 yards. Then turn left after the gulley, and you should see the newly bulldozed trail.
The bulldozed trail wanders around a bit, and eventually makes its way back to the main power line trail. We took a wrong turn (see Area C above), and that trail dwindled off. So, back to the main bulldozed trail.
We saw some more dumped appliances. I’ll let you guess the type: Steve started telling me about his recent woes with his In-Sink-Erator and dish washer.
We took a brief detour at the Concrete Drainage things and visited the Rancho Diana drainage pond. Then back to the main trail, climb back up the first hill, and then a quick but careful descent back down to Babcock. 5 miles for us total, a bit over an hour.
- This is one of the tougher runs in the area.
- Go slowly or preferably go with a buddy.
- Trail continues on the other side of Kyle Seale for about another mile, with more hills.
- There are some more trails within Area B on the map, so you can zip zag and get in even more elevation if you desire.
- Worth driving by the trail head a bit before sunset. The first power line tower in the valley (second picture in the gallery below) hosts a huge Vulture rookery, and they descend on it by the hundreds around sunset.