Hill landscape with three trees along with birds, rabbits, and flowers

Five State Parks Everyone Should Visit

By Arlett Ramirez
Web Content Contributor

As the weather begins to warm up, most students on campus will visit Sewell Park and Rio Vista Falls Dam to cool off after class or on the weekend. Living in San Marcos, residents are lucky to have access to a river year-round. If Sewell Park or Rio Vista Falls Dam is too crowded or if you’d like to explore something new and different, the following state parks are close enough to San Marcos for students to visit!

McKinney Falls State Park
This park is located in Austin and it’s a short half-hour drive from San Marcos. It’s the closest state park on this list. Visitors can see the well- known waterfalls on the park grounds. They are also welcome to swim or fish in Onion Creek. One thing that visitors should definitely see is “Old Baldy,” one of the oldest bald cypress trees in Texas. Old Baldy is estimated to be more than 500 years old and it stands at 103 feet tall!

Guadalupe State Park

Like its name suggests, the park is located next to the Guadalupe River near Spring Branch. Most visitors come for the river and while it’s a great place to swim, fish, tube and canoe, the park also has over 13 miles of hiking trails. Some of these trails are open for horseback riding. Visitors can also geocache. Geocaching is hunting for ‘treasures’ using a GPS unit or a smartphone app. This park is about an hour drive from San Marcos.

Pedernales State Park
Located outside of Johnson City, Pedernales State Park offers camping, hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, geocaching, bird watching and horseback riding (keep in mind that Pedernales State Park does not offer horses for horseback riding, visitors must bring their own horses). Pedernales State Park is well-known for the Pedernales Falls that guests can see from the scenic view. An interesting fact is that in early March, the park becomes home to the endangered golden-cheeked warblers who nest there!

Colorado Bend State Park
Spanning over 5,300 acres of land, Colorado Bend State Park offers over 35 miles of trails for visitors to hike or mountain bike on. The park is home to Gorman Falls, a 70 foot-high waterfall that visitors get to by hiking on a one-and-half trail. Since the park is next to the Colorado River, guests are more than welcome to swim, kayak and fish. The park also has over 400 caves that visitors can explore! Colorado Bend State Park is located west of Lampasas and southeast of San Saba, a two-hour drive from San Marcos.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
This park is located north of Fredericksburg and it’s nearly a two-hour drive from San Marcos. It’s named after the massive granite dome known as Enchanted Rock that overlooks the Texas Hill Country. One of the best things to do at the park is hike up Enchanted Rock to see the spectacular view! The park is far enough from the city that during night hours, visitors can stargaze from any part of the park. It’s been called one of the best places to stargaze in Texas and it could be the perfect place for a romantic date!

If you would like to explore other natural areas around San Marcos, these state parks would be the perfect destination for a day out with friends tubing or kayaking down the river, fishing, swimming and hiking trails.

Featured illustration by Arlett Ramirez.

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