A Beautiful Beginning: Our First Day Hike at Palmetto State Park

On New Year’s Day, we hit the road in the early afternoon to go on our first hike of the year. We chose Palmetto State Park because of it’s wealth of beauty and proximity to home. Just over an hour’s drive, Palmetto is a little known hidden gem that is surprisingly diverse and abundant in landscape and wildlife. Although close to San Antonio and Austin, the feeling is remote. With the San Marcos River winding through the entire park, over 240 species of birds, and well-kept trails through swampy marshes, there is no shortage of scenery that is pleasing at every turn. We couldn’t have chosen a better hike to kick off the new year.

San Marcos River, Palmetto State Park

First Hike, New Year's Day

Mesquite Flats Trail

This park is named after the tropical Dwarf Palmetto plants that grow here. Their presence gives the park a tropical feel and in a way, it seems this place doesn’t belong, which makes us appreciate it and realize it’s value even more.

Palmetto State Park
Dwarf Palmettos, San Marcos River Trail

My husband and I came back the following week to camp for a few nights without kids for our anniversary. It was the perfect, quiet getaway we both needed. Sometimes I wonder if I could live in a tent and then other times, I know I could. There is something so freeing about only taking what you need and leaving behind all the stuff. It is a simple way of living that my whole family seems to appreciate.

At night, the coyotes sang to us and the owls spoke to one another across the twenty foot cliffs with the river running between. Each morning we woke to a dream-like fog that lifted mid-morning and seemingly brought to life more birds than you could ever imagine in one place. This little red-headed woodpecker was our campsite friend. Notice all the holes he’s already made in this one tree!

Here is a picture of our campsite. The river lies just at our back door.

Here’s another view of our campsite. The campsites are spacious, shaded and have a nice, secluded feel.

The next morning, we were lucky enough to spot this Blue Heron. We even watched him catch a couple of fish.

Blue Heron

Given the beauty we experienced at this park in early January, I can’t wait to return to see what it looks like in the spring. I think this is the first New Year’s Resolution I can remember making that I actually feel good about. I think I’m on to something, and I think it’s pretty good. I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2012 holds.

Scenic Overlook on Park Road 11

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