Guadalupe River State Park
| 5.30 Miles
|| 420 Feet
| Spring Branch
Getting there: From New Braunfels, head west on State Highway 46. Continue past the intersection with US Highway 281 for 8 miles to the park entrance.
|The trail starts next to the large sign.|
The main hiking trail at Guadalupe River State Park begins near the park entrance, at the end of a short dirt road on the right immediately after the pay station. There's ample parking here, at least in part because the majority of park visitors are there for the camping and picnicking opportunities along the Guadalupe River. That just means more peace and quiet for hikers.
The trail begins at the waypoint marked "Trailhead". The trails make up a mangled figure 8 with a couple of smaller loops attached. This provides ample opportunity for a loop hike of several differing lengths with minimal trail duplication.
|Much of the trail is along old jeep tracks and generally easy to navigate.|
The trail surface is packed dirt, with some rock thrown in. In general the trail surface is well maintained and easy to navigate. Despite being on the edge of the Hillcountry the trail itself is relatively flat. Nevertheless there will be a great vista on the northern tip of the hike.
The main trail consists of a Juniper-Oak mix of vegetation like much of the Hillcountry. The smaller trails next to the river itself yields a wider variety of trees and plants including Cypress, Sycamore, Elm, Hackberry and Pecan.
|The main trail has patches of vegetation coverage, such as this one. But there is lots of open skies too, so bring your sunscreen.|
The best place to stop for a rest is at the waypoint marked "Overlook". Here the trail skirts a steep ridge overlooking the Guadalupe River. It's just about the only look at the river you'll find on the main trail itself. Unlike a few other spots along the ridge, this one opens up enough to provide a view of the river bank below and the fields on the opposite bank. The land to the north of the overlook is part of the park, but closed "pending development". Hopefully one day that will provide a few more miles of trail.
|The best view along the main trail. It overlooks the undeveloped northern park of the park on the opposite side of the river.|
The waypoint "Turnaround" marks the alternate trailhead in the Cedar Sage Camping area. By walking through the camping area it's possible to get to the smaller secondary trails nearer the river. But I opted instead of complete the crazy 8 trail and head back to the trailhead. In about 3 hours of hiking I saw perhaps 5 other people on the main trail. The secondary trails are an entirely different story.
The small .4 mile "Interpretive Trail" starts at the "Alt-TH" waypoint (view on the topo map for the larger view which shows this) and makes a pseudo-balloon loop towards the southwest. The name refers to the trail's use for interpretive guided tours by
park employees. I could find no place to pick up an interpretive pamphlet for a self guided hike. This small trail is actually quite pleasant and under-utilized. I saw three other people on the trail and a good bit of it is well covered. There's even a small but steep hill thrown in for good measure.
The trail along the river itself is not really a trail at all. It's a walkway through a crowded picnic area. Still, it's worthwhile for the getting close to the river and getting a view of the steep cliffs that line the shore on the far side. Farther downstream there are fewer people and several huge Bald Cypress trees with their twisted, gnarled roots clinging to the shore. It's even possible to find a relatively quiet spot where the trail petters out to the south.
Guadalupe River State Park is adjacent to the Honey Creek State Natural Area. Access to Honey Creek is limited to guided tours, which are given on Saturdays at 9:00 AM.
The smaller interpretive trail is close to the crowds but under utilized. Lots more cover is available here as well. (Photo by
The river, what most people come for. The ridge on the far side actually overhangs the water at this point. (Photo by
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Hot, but quiet
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Distance: 5.50 Miles
My wife and I hiked all of the loop trails on this sunny and hot Saturday morning. We enjoyed the ease of this trail and the fact that NOBODY else was hiking on this day(surprising for a Saturday!). I was only mildly disappointed to find that the overlook on the bluff did not offer a big FULL view of the river and scenery below...but what can ya do? When we got to the top of the Loop 3 trail, we got off the trail and stopped to eat at an empty picnic table in the campgrounds before heading back. Real easy, enjoyable trail to follow...but maybe not the right time of year to fully enjoy the wildlife(only spotted 2 deer) viewing with the heat...but yeah, I'd hike it again.
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