Hays County, Texas occupies 693.5 square miles in central Texas, approximately 25 miles southwest of Austin, the state capital. Established on March 1, 1848 from territory that was formerly part of Travis County, Hays County was named in honor of popular Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays.
Located on the divide between the Hill Country and the Blackland Prairie, the rural areas in Hays County include hilly, tree-covered, ranch country to the west and grassy, agricultural plains in the east. Ranching and agriculture are important businesses in the county; Hays County farms and ranches produce more than $10 million a year in market value of agricultural products, according to a Hays County Cost of Community Services Study.
The draw of Hill Country towns like Wimberley, Dripping Springs and San Marcos has caused the estimated 2009 population of Hays County to swell to 155,545, a 59.4 percent increase from 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The remarkable growth of residential development has been attributed to Hays County’s small-town atmosphere and easy access to Austin and San Antonio.
San Marcos is the county seat for Hays County and part of the newly minted Austin–Round Rock–San Marcos Metropolitan Area. The federal Office of Management and Budget has recently added San Marcos to the former Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Area designation, based on San Marcos’ newly defined status as a principal city within the region.
San Marcos, Texas, home to Texas State University, features a lively college town atmosphere with a variety of restaurants and entertainment venues. The historic downtown, including the restored Hays County Courthouse, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. After San Marcos, Hays County’s next largest city is Kyle. Kyle, like the rest of Hays County, TX is seeing major increases in population and commercial development.
Ideally situated on Interstate 35 between Austin and San Antonio, Hays County, Texas has experienced major commercial growth from companies taking advantage of the major transportation artery between Canada and Mexico. U.S. Highway 290 and State Highways 21 and 80 also serve Hays County. The Austin Bergstrom International Airport is located only 30 miles away, and the San Antonio International Airport is 45 miles to the south.
The Hays County Habitat Conservation Plan was designed to protect the important natural resources of Hays County while balancing the needs of the county’s rapidly growing population. Hays County, TX is home to several federally threatened or endangered species, important springs, 70 miles of rive, and 430 miles of named streams.
Just outside of Wimberley is one of Hays County’s most unique attractions, a scenic drive on the crest of a ridge dubbed the Devil’s Backbone. The Devil’s Backbone provides breathtaking views and, according to some local residents, a variety of apparitions, including 16th century Spanish monks, Native American spirits and Confederate soldiers traveling on horseback.
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