San Marcos features several natural escapes that feature excellent hiking trails. San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

Autumn weekends in San Marcos revolve around one activity: football. Texas State University fans head to Bobcat Stadium hours before game time to set up a tailgating spot, grill burgers and throw the football around before heading to the game. For non-football lovers, autumn weekends mean something else entirely. It means that after a long hot summer, the temperature finally reads less than 100 degrees. Cooler weather draws residents out of their air-conditioned homes. So while you may be in town to watch the action on the field, it’s also a chance for nature lovers to enjoy the outdoors. Here are some of San Marcos’ best fall outdoor activities.

1. Run the Trail at the Purgatory Creek Natural Area


You can’t beat trail running on the singletrack at Purgatory Creek Natural Area. San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

Start the morning far away from the chaotic football stadium with a trail run along Purgatory Creek Natural Area’s famous Dante’s Trail. The eight-mile moderate run connecting the Upper and Lower Purgatory is popular with trail runners, mountain bikers and hikers. The Upper Purgatory is a steeper, more technical section with rocks and tree roots to keep you on your game. The Malacoda Trail branches off the Upper Purgatory leading to a limestone grotto. The Lower Purgatory is the less challenging and the more popular section, so get there early on the weekend to ensure finding a parking space. Make sure you bring water as there are no water sources along the trail.

2. Watch Unicycle Football

Every Sunday afternoon in the fall, Unicycle Football players gather in the parking lot of the San Marcos Activity Center to play a game of five-on-five football. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like—folks on unicycles playing American style football. The rules are similar to flag football, but with a few variations unique to the league. Instead of a coin-flip, the initial possession of the ball goes to the winner of the pre-game joust, and a player can tackle by pulling another player’s flag or by knocking them off their unicycle. “Pedestrian football is outdated” is the official tagline of the Unicycle Football League. The games are free to the public.

3. Kayak the San Marcos River


Enjoy an escape on the San Marcos River. San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

Fall weather in Central Texas is not too cool to stop anyone from enjoying time on the water. While the San Marcos River offers several areas to drop in a kayak and enjoy a good paddle, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife designated the section between San Marcos and Luling Zedler Mill as one of the state’s most popular paddling trails. It is easy to see the popularity of the six-mile trail as the tree-lined river twists and turns through the Texas Hill Country. The gentle currents make the four-hour trip perfect for beginners or those who just want to put their feet back and enjoy the quiet beauty of Central Texas.

4. Paddleboard on Spring Lake

As the headwaters to the San Marcos River, Spring Lake has been a gathering place for water seekers for more than 1,200 years. Grab a paddleboard and glide across the lake’s crystal clear waters. Bobcat Stadium is only a mile away so you might be able to keep up with the progress of the game depending on all the “oohs” and “ahhs” you hear. Paddle SMTX features guided tours, paddleboard yoga and even “glow tours” by paddleboard in the evening for those who don’t have their own equipment.

5. Float the San Marcos River


Floating on the San Marcos is as much a part of the town as football. San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

Floating the San Marcos River is practically a right of passage for visitors to San Marcos. Central Texas is filled with fun, floatable rivers, but with continuously flowing water, the San Marcos River is arguably the best river for tubing. For an hour-long slow and steady float that is perfect for families, start at the San Marcos City Park and end at Rio Vista Park. For a longer, more action-packed float, start at Texas State Tubes.

6. Body Surf at Rio Vista Park

If you are brave enough to submerge yourself in 72-degree water on what might be a cool fall day, jump in the San Marcos River as it cuts through Rio Vista Park. The popular 13-acre park in the middle of town attracts sunbathers, paddleboarders, swimmers, kayakers and tubers. The Rio Vista Damn Falls—a series of three artificial rapids with eight-foot drops—makes for great body surfing.

7. Go For a Hike


Enjoy some of the natural beauty around San Marcos before or after the football game. San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

Strap on your hiking boots and head to the Spring Lake Natural Area to enjoy some of the area’s most beautiful trails. Miles and miles of trails weave through 251 acres of meadows, hillsides and woodlands. Featuring majestic live oaks draped in Spanish moss, the area around San Marcos Springs and Spring Lake offer a glimpse of nature at its finest. And it’s less than two miles to the football stadium, meaning you can be back at the tailgate with plenty of time to catch the game.

Written by Jennifer Simonson for RootsRated Media in partnership with San Marcos CVB.