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Top 5 best hiking spots in San Marcos

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Photo by: Preslie Cox | Multimedia Editor
Spring Lake Natural Area is home to 251 acres of parkland, is home to five endangered species, and supports natural built trails.

San Marcos is home to many hiking trails that allow students to enjoy the city’s natural beauty while getting their cardio on. Although the heat can be a powerful deterrent for many people during the summer, there are plenty of trails in the area providing enough shade to keep you going.

Ringtail Ridge Natural Area

Although the Ringtail Ridge Natural Area is smaller than most trails, the 40 acres provide plenty of room for beginners. Ringtail Ridge also allows dogs as long as they are leashed.

Janis Martinez, San Marcos resident, said the trail is two miles long and primarily designed for mountain biking.

“I like it for a good run,” Martinez said. “It is shorter than some trails, but there’s a ridge loop that makes it feel like you get a good workout in.”

According to the San Marcos Green Belt Alliance, Ringtail Ridge was previously home to an animal slaughterhouse. Years later, Martinez said runners are still finding fossils.

“I have seen bones,” Martinez said. “I see them everywhere, but I didn’t know why. I guess that’s also a little interesting.”

Purgatory Creek Natural Area

The 570 acres of intertwining trails at Purgatory Creek instantly make it a crowd favorite.

According to the San Marcos Green Belt Alliance website, the complex is split into three different parks. The first trail is 3 miles long and winds through Prospect Park.

“It’s huge,” said Jessica Cruz, English freshman. “It’s my first time here, and I probably would have gotten lost without the map and my roommate.”

Hikers can also check out Lower Purgatory, which eventually leads into Dante’s Trail. Cruz said the trail has more gravel for those who wish to go biking or hiking in addition to experiencing incredible views.

“I think the best part is the view,” Cruz said. “It makes you feel relaxed and like you’re somewhere else.”

Cruz said Purgatory’s trails are great for new and returning students to visit.

“I would tell other to people to come and jog or bike around here,” Cruz said. “It’s a must to come and see it at least once.”

Spring Lake Natural Area

The San Marcos Spring Lake Natural Area is home to 251 acres of parkland, making it the perfect place for a long hike or short run.

The park is home to five endangered species and supports natural-surface trails as a result, according to the San Marcos Green Belt Alliance website.

Mekalah Anderson, computer science sophomore, said the trails are a great way to work out any time of the year.

“I come for fresh air and to just get some sun,” Anderson said. “It’s really pretty even when it is hot. That’s why I like coming when the sun is about to go down.”

Anderson said the best part of the hike is visiting the San Marcos Springs and Spring Lake.

“The creeks are nice,” Anderson said. “It’s also never crowded, and everyone here is friendly. I try to stop by every now and then when I get the chance.”

Blanco Shoals

Blanco Shoals is home to 81 acres of nothing but hiking trails.

Erick Watson, San Marcos resident, said the park is specifically designed to provide the best hiking in the area.

“It’s kind of hard to understand if you aren’t a hiker,” Watson said. “A normal gravel trail isn’t the same, so I come here.”

The Holt family donated the park in 2002 and asked for the land to remain natural, according to the San Marcos Green Belt Alliance website.

San Marcos River Walk Trail

The San Marcos River Walk Trail conveniently runs across the San Marcos River, making it the perfect path for those looking to cool down after their visit.

The track comes out to three miles if it is started at the City Park Pavilion, according to the San Marcos Runners Club website.

Aaron Erikson, San Marcos resident, said the trail may not provide the same view of nature as other trails around town, but it does offer an easy way to exercise before floating or swimming in the river.

“I don’t come here a lot, but I like that it is by the river,” Erikson said “I usually come just for a quick run. If we decide to come to the river, I like to come get some cardio in before.”

Follow Denise Cervants on Twitter @cervantesdenise.