Hiking the Guadalupe River Multi-Use Trail
: Guadalupe River State Park
: February 6 & 9, 2004
: Highs in the low 60s; sunny on Feb. 6,
overcast and rainy on Feb. 9
: Hiking, photography and fun with our GPS units
: Shannon Moore
In 2001, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department added over 5 miles of trails to Guadalupe River State Park. Prior to the expansion, the park lacked a well-developed, publicly accessible trail system. Hikers explored time-worn footpaths among the campgrounds and riverbank, or the protected trails of Honey Creek State Natural Area via a guided interpretive hike. With the additional trails, hikers as well as mountain biking and equestrian users now have more to explore!
Despite living less than 25 minutes from the park, Justin and I had hiked all of the park's trails except the "new" multi-use trail. With new hiking boots (Vasque Sundowners) on my feet and some new toys (GPS receivers) in hand, we hiked the Loop 2 trail segment on Friday, February 6, 2004. The weather was sunny and mild -- a perfect day for a hike -- with a little mud on the trails due to recent rains. (The trails became quite muddy during my rainy solo hike of the trail several days later.)
The park map indicates Loop 2 of the multi-use trail is 2.5 miles long. However, our GPS units (Garmin Rino 110
GMRS/FRS radio with GPS receiver, and Garmin Forerunner 201
) measured the total mileage as 3.6 miles
. I confirmed the mileage disparity during a solo hike of the trail on Monday, February 9, using my primary GPS receiver (Garmin GPSMap 76S
). Monday's hike covered the complete multi-use trail (Loops 1, 2 and 3) and totalled 6.47 miles
, more than a mile longer than the map's total indicated trail mileage of 5.3 miles. The saying, "Your mileage may vary," really does apply here!
View our GPS track and waypoints from the hikes.
Several park benches, picnic tables, horse hitching posts and stock tanks are provided along the trail, including a nice setup at the trailhead parking lot. A lot of work has definitely gone into preparing this trail for use, and visitors will enjoy the benefits of that labor.
Although we encountered no one else on the trail during our visits, bicycle and horseshoe tracks were visible. The trail is well-marked and accessible to all users, though mountain bikers in particular should be prepared for sharp rocks and slightly uneven terrain, with a few sharp turns. Loop 3 is the most rugged segment of the trail, and among the most scenic -- the trail meets a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River and surrounding landscape.
The entire trail provides a terrific look at the park's landscape and habitat. In the sunlight, the winter-dormant native grasses and Ashe juniper (mountain cedar) trees seemed to glow as we hiked among them. Keen observers will note the cedar's well known habit of growing at the base of other trees, such as elms and oaks. Prickly pear cacti and many other native plants are present, and wildlife viewing opportunities are good. During my hike with Justin, we observed a nine-banded armadillo
, Western scrub jay
, turkey vulture, and tracks made by white-tailed deer
. On my solo visit to the park on Monday, a respite in the rains near nightfall brought out two jackrabbits and several white-tailed deer.
Of course, no visit to Guadalupe River State Park is complete without a trip to the river. By visiting on weekdays, the park was deserted except for a handful of "winter Texans" (refugees from the cold, white North) in the campground. Justin and I took advantage of the tranquil atmosphere and beautiful weather, relaxing by the river for awhile before driving home. I'm glad we did, since the weather during my solo visit made sitting at a picnic table much less inviting!
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