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A Guide to Hiking In and Around San Marcos, Texas

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

At PaddleSMTX, we love sharing our appreciation for the stunning nature San Marcos and the Texas Hill Country have to offer. So, we have created a list of some of our favorite trails nearby for you to explore.


The San Marcos River Walk

This trail is a paved walkway that runs about 2.5 miles. Begin at City Park and follow the sidewalk along the beautiful San Marcos River until you reach Crook Park. Wearing sandals on this trail is recommended because there are a lot of great places to stop and dip your toes in the water. This is also a great trail to bike and skate on.

If you are planning to join PaddleSMTX on the river, this trail follows alongside part of the river we guide you through! Be sure to check out all the infomative signs that share fun facts about the critters in and around the San Marcos River.


Spring Lake Natural Area

There are a few different access points for this trail. Our favorite starts next to the Meadows Center! You will have to pay to park in their parking lot, but the trail itself is free and open to the public. There is also another smaller, free parking lot located at 685 Lime Kiln Road. This 251-acre park has miles of winding, rocky, and well-maintained trails full of gorgeous flora and fauna ready to be discovered. Don't forget to check out the sundial located a little less than a mile down Tonkawa trail. Pay attention to signs about respecting wildlife in the area. Some of the trails are closed from March 1- May 31 to protect the endangered golden-cheeked warbler's nesting season.


Purgatory Creek Natural Area

This area is 830+ acres of rocky trails that lead to a large grotto of limestone carved by Purgatory Creek. The park is so big the map has been divided into Upper and Lower Purgatory.

Mountain biking and trail running are a more popular form of recreation in Lower Purgatory due to the more rocky, intermediate skill level required to navigate the trail's terrain. Access to this part of the trail is available at 2102 Hunter Road.

Upper Purgatory, 7153 Valencia Way, is also a great spot for hiking and mountain biking. It's also a popular spot for birders. An ADA trail was built here in 2019!


Texas State University Camp

This camping and day use area is exclusively reserved for Texas State University students, staff, and alumni. If you have the opportunity to visit, don't hesitate!! Located on the Blanco River, this 126-acre property has about four miles of hiking and biking trails. There are bikes, kayaks, and other outdoor recreation gear for rent at headquarters. Follow the Inner Loop Trail to the Juniper Canyon/Grotto Trail to reach Lone Star Point Trail with stunning views of the Blanco River and Hill Country beyond.


McKinney Falls State Park

Located in the southeast region of Austin, this park is a quick 30-45min drive from San Marcos. It has 9 miles of a wide variety of terrain and trails to explore. Bring a swimsuit and take a dip in the serene pools by the upper and lower falls. Go camping, fishing, bouldering, and geocache. Bring your road bike or stroller and hit the 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail for a smooth, paved ride around the park.

Hop on the Rock Shelter Trail to visit Old Baldy. The 100-foot tall, 500+ year old Cypress tree was voted Austin's Tree of the Year in 2012.

Did you know scenes from the movie Predators were filmed here?


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