Between the usual stress of the holidays and the black hole between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day (if you’re like us, those days are spent in a horizontal position) you may be needing a little energy boost only an outdoor journey can bring. San Marcos is home to trails of all fitness and activity levels, so no matter how adventurous you’re feeling, you’ll find just the right spot. 


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. Forgot your waste bags? Please take one from the dispenser at the trailhead and dispose of it properly. 
  • 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.


A Few Of Our Favorite Spots

  • Upper Purgatory Creek has a really beautiful ADA trail that’s perfect for families, leisure walkers and, well, really anyone! The entrance is a winding, slightly sloping 2-mile-long and 8-feet-wide crushed granite pathway. The trail is also a really easy route to follow. Follow the Styx trail to Grandma’s Oak, take the loop and head on back!
  • A quick but slightly challenging journey can be had at Spring Lake Natural Area. Enter on the Lime Kiln entrance and follow the Blue Heron trail to go in a circle (stop at the dock). There is a steep and rocky hill, so this is an intermediate-level hike. Beginners will enjoy the Tonkawa trail, which starts at the Aquarena Springs entrance.
  • Of course, the San Marcos River Walkway is a Tour San Marcos favorite. The new 10-foot-wide concrete path (which is an ongoing project) currently goes from City Park to Ramon Lucio Park. There are a few small spots that may be under construction, but all are easy to navigate around. The trail offers beautiful views of the San Marcos River and runs through town, allowing a calming respite in the heart of San Marcos.

     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.

    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.