Guadalupe River State Park

5.30 Miles
420 Feet
2point5stars (2.57)17
1point5stars (1.72)
3stars (3.06)
Spring Branch
More Info

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 trail starts next to the large sign.
The Hike: 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.
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 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 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.

cypress roots
roots along the river (Photo by jimmy peace)
painted buntings
one of the reasons i come to the park (Photo by jimmy peace)
cypress in the winter
cypress roots (Photo by jimmy peace)
Entrance Sign
This is the sign to the park. (Photo by Blaze)
Places To Scramble
There are some places to scramble on the hill along the river. (Photo by Blaze)
View Of The Trail
With a few exceptions, most of the trails are flat and easy to walk. (Photo by Blaze)
Bird Blind
My friend and I saw a lot of hummingbirds and a cardinal from the bird blind. (Photo by Blaze)
Guadalupe River
The area along the Guadalupe River is scenic and a nice place to relax or picnic. (Photo by Blaze)
Trail Map Display
The display at the trailhead shows the network of trails. (Photo by Blaze)
Interpretive Trail
The smaller interpretive trail is close to the crowds but under utilized. Lots more cover is available here as well. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Guadadlupe River
The river, what most people come for. The ridge on the far side actually overhangs the water at this point. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Log Entries
hadnt been here in a couple of yrs
By jimmy peace on 6/30/2019
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: halfstar Solitude: 3point5stars
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: N/A

came to go birding and hiking  and it rained

not bad for a winter visit
By jimmy peace on 2/22/2015
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 3point5stars
Distance: 3.50 Miles Duration: N/A

lots of cardinals around 

Cedar Down
By Blaze on 12/30/2013
Rating: 1point5stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 1star
Distance: 7.90 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 20 minutes

I went hiking in the San Antonio area with a buddy.  Guadalupe River State Park was our first destination.  We camped in the primitive area and it was cooooold at night (mid-30's).

The fire wood we bought from the rangers was damp and very difficult to light.  After going through almost all of my waterproof matches, I finally cheated and used my butane stove to help ignite the wood.  After a few minutes of brute force of blue flame, I got the fire started but it was so brisk you couldn't feel the warmth of the fire unless you hovered right next to it.

As far as the trails go, there are some nice spots, especially along the river.  However, I found most of the trails a little disappointing.  There are large sections of land where it looks like a war zone due to so many fallen trees everywhere.  I later learned from a friend that lives in San Antonio that the Park Service intentionally knocked down most of the cedars as a part of a water control effort.  Apparently the cedars suck up and hold a lot of ground water causing the water level to fall in nearby wells.  In the past, the number of cedars were controlled by occassional natural wild fires, but since fire prevention efforts have been implemented the population of cedars has exploded.  After knocking the cedars down they've seen water levels rise in the wells.

Having said all that, it still an eye sore to see so many down trees.  It really screws up any photos you take.  It would be nice if they removed the trees, cut them up into fire wood, or shredded them into mulch.

I also found the signage to be very poor.  Since there are a lot of informal/undocumented trails and roads running all over the place, the map they give you at the Park HQs is fairly useless.  I finally gave up and just walked around with my friend, but the park could benefit tremendously if it were maintained better.

By rodavenport on 4/18/2010
Rating: 2stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 5.30 Miles Duration: N/A
Pretty bland trail. It's only redeeming quality was the wild flowers were in bloom.  Park service was clearing cedar underbrush with some sort of machine that chunks up the trees and leaves the pieces laying everywhere. I suppose they are using this technique as opposed to control burns because its safer. If you get off trail in that stuff  watch your step.
Guadalupe River in November
By caspalding66 on 11/8/2008
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 4.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours
Great Foliage on cypress trees...was much closer than lost maples and a lot fewer people
easy but not much to see
By haggai on 6/7/2008
Rating: 2stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours

There are a couple nice views by the riverside, but other than that it's a lot of prairie hiking -- hot and dusty.   We didn't see anyone else along the trail except at points where the trail crossed the road.

More of a natue walk than a hike
By RMA on 3/16/2008
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 7.00 Miles Duration: N/A

A lot of construction happening.They are building a road twice as wide as any of the other roads there.   Soon it will be a KOA and not a state park.  The weather was cloudy and cool, threating to rain which kept alot of people away, but if they feel the need for all the construction then I wouldn't want to be their during peak time.     

By kernel on 12/29/2007
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 6.50 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes

They were doing some construction on parts of the park but still very nice day for hiking.

10 feet until the next cedar tree
By Soonhorn on 11/20/2006
Rating: halfstar Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 4point5stars
Distance: 6.20 Miles Duration: N/A
Big let down. One place in 6 miles that you get any kind of a view and it last for about 200 yards then back to cedar trees. 95% of the trail, you can only see a few feet in front of you. Solitude was nice but you are basically walking on a horse trail...and all that goes with it. (hold your nose) We do a lot of hikes and this was the worst one we have ever done. I am saying this so clearly so that you will not drive for two hours to go on some awesome adventure and find this when you get there, like we did.
Beautiful picnic area by the river
By figment on 10/30/2005
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: N/A
The best part of this park is the river/picnic area. We hiked the Loop 3 trail and the interpretive trail. Saw plenty of armadillo. The trail scenery doesn't match the beauty of the river, so I wouldn't necessarily drive all the way out from Austin just to go hiking.

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