SRSU invites public to guided hikes on Hancock Hill in 2024

A group of subject matter experts hiked Hancock Hill in early December. Sul Ross State University will begin hosting guided hikes this month. Photo courtesy of SRSU.

ALPINE –– Sul Ross State University faculty and researchers will begin hosting monthly guided hikes on Hancock Hill this month.

Each hike will have a theme and hike leader who serves as the subject matter expert from Sul Ross State. Hike themes will vary each month with topics ranging from birds and plants to geology and anthropology. Participants will learn about the history of Alpine and SRSU and the natural history of Hancock Hill while taking in stunning views.

The 1.8-mile hike is moderately strenuous and will begin at 9 a.m., lasting approximately two hours.

The spring schedule is as follows:

Jan. 13, “General hike:” Alex Hettena, Bill Adams and Maureen Frank, Borderlands Research Institute

Feb. 3, “Big game:” Justin French, Big Game Specialist, Borderlands Research Institute

Mar. 9, “Tracks and scat,” Alex Hettena, GIS Specialist, Borderlands Research Institute

Apr. 20, “Birds:” David Tønnessen, graduate student, Borderlands Research Institute

Dates for May through September will be announced shortly.

This is a collaborative effort among the Borderlands Research Institute, the Center for Big Bend Studies, Rio Grande Research Center and the Department of Geology.

Dr. Kevin Urbanczyk, a professor of geology at SRSU, began adding to the historic trail system on Hancock Hill in 2000 with assistance of staff, faculty and students, and with help from the Big Bend Trails Alliance. The trails have been used for decades and provide access to areas that were part of the Sul Ross campus and to adjacent property that is open to the public.

“The hikes are a real backcountry experience,” said Dr. Urbanczyk. “You’re out there in the thick of it with someone who can tell you more about the natural history of the area, the flora and fauna, and the geology. There are many fascinating features that can be seen on the trail or off in the distance. You can hike with someone who will point this stuff out and teach you from an expert point of view.”

The hikes are free and open to the public, though only 12 hikers will be allowed for each event. A reservation is required and can be made online at www.sulross.edu/guided-hikes.

Watch SRSU’s social media channels on Facebook and Instagram for more information soon. Hikes will also be announced on area bulletin boards and through visitor’s centers.

“We’re looking forward to engaging with the public on these educational hikes that showcase the university’s research areas. Our hope is that we connect folks with human and natural history of Alpine and the Big Bend,” said Alex Hettena, co-organizer.

For more information, email [email protected].