From leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes, San Marcos has trails for outdoor adventurers of all fitness levels. Below are some of San Marcos’ most beautiful areas, as well as tips to help you navigate and enjoy your outdoor SMTXperience.

Helpful Tips

  • Always carry water for you or any four-legged friends you bring with you
  • Speaking of four-legged friends, keep them on leashes and pick up after them
  • Don’t listen to Robert Frost, stay on trail paths and within natural area fencing
  • Keep your phone charged in case of emergency, but also for all the photos you’ll want to take
  • Bring a map or use a GPS device
  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! And maybe a hat…
  • Campfires, glass containers, motor vehicles, weapons, horses and camping are a no-go

Family Activity Ideas

  • Create a hiking scavenger hunt! Pick a list of things for family members of all ages to spot out in nature.
  • Keep a list of what bugs or animals you see along the trail
  • Listen for birds and see if you can identify them
  • Create leaf rubbings for the different trees you see


Golden-cheeked Warbler Nesting Season

Please observe, and respect, any closed trail signage for Golden-cheeked Warbler nesting season. Trails are mostly in the northwest section of Spring Lake Natural Area and Purgatory Creek Natural Area. The endangered bird's nesting season runs from March 1 - May 31. The Golden-cheeked Warbler breeds only in Central Texas and nests in the Ashe juniper and oak woodlands. 

Natural Areas

Purgatory Creek Natural Area

Purgatory Creek is a 570-acre piece of land nestled within the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. An area with a very interesting landscape, Purgatory Creek ranges from upland meadows, canyon bluffs of 40 feet or more, dense juniper thickets, champion oaks and a flood control dam. Upper Purgatory Creek has undergone recent renovations and now has a 2-mile long and 8-feet wide ADA accessible trail - perfect for families of all abilities! Please be aware of any trail closures and heavy equipment as more construction on trails are underway. 


Blanco Shoals

Located mostly west of the Blanco River and just below the bridge at IH35, Blanco Shoals is a unique 81 acres of area in the San Marcos park system. The natural area is just that, completely natural. It contains high bank bluffs and shoals, tall cottonwoods and sycamores, gigantic pecans and mesquite. Beautiful Anaqua trees cling to the riverbanks.


Ringtail Ridge Natural Area

With beautiful plants and animals and trails of varying difficulty levels – it’s the perfect place for a scenic run or walk. The lightly developed parkland is located on 40 acres off of Ranch Road 12. As well as being a hub of activities ranging from walking to mountain biking, there are also several places to sit and enjoy natural San Marcos.


Schulle Canyon Natural Area

If you enjoy a beautiful day of birding, Schulle Canyon is the perfect place to go! With 21 acres of undeveloped parkland and gravel trails, it’s a relaxing outdoor adventure for all fitness levels and is a great place for peace and quiet.


Spring Lake Natural Area

Wander through what is thought to be one of the longest continuously occupied areas in North America. Spring Lake Natural Area is home to the San Marcos Springs and Spring Lake, rare ecological jewels among Texas water resources and home to five endangered species. Although no longer home to mermaids and swimming pigs, Spring Lake is still as magical as ever and a wonderful place to spend a beautiful San Marcos day.


Do you have a favorite trail in San Marcos? Let us know in the comments below!