There are many places in San Marcos for nature lovers to explore interests in camping, hiking, bird watching and river activities.
Bird Watching: According to a Jan 21, 2014 University Star article, the Hays County Master Naturalists launched the Birding Network Project to set up approximately 40 sites throughout the county. Working with the Wimberley Birding Society and the Greenbelt Alliance the group expects to have at least eight sites in the works within the year, including one at Jacob’s Well in Wimberley. In the meantime, there are plenty of sites in San Marcos for birding aficionados to scope out including the A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery off of Hwy 123 and the gravel quarry on Lime Kiln road.
Camping: For those that want to experience spending the night under the blanket of the night sky, the Texas State Outdoor Center is an excellent resource. The centers offers students, faculty, and staff 24-hour rentals of camping equipment including 2 and 4 person tents, backpacks, lanterns, coolers, sleeping bags, stove burners and water jugs. In order to rent items customers simply need to have money and their Texas State ID card physically present. In addition, students wishing to rent items must be currently enrolled in classes, including during summer sessions.
Floating: Bobcats that are fans of the simple nature adventure of floating the river will find many lovely spots in San Marcos to explore and enjoy. Rio Vista Park is located on Reynolds Street and is home to the Rio Vista River Dam and rapids that many floaters and tubers pass through. In addition, Stokes Park is a local favorite that has been flying under the radar for many years. Students that venture to this shady river paradise, complete with a man-made waterfall, should only take their most worthy companions so as not to disturb the serenity of this hidden San Marcos gem.
Hiking: Hiking is a classic activity that nature lovers can undertake. Strolling through sites such as Purgatory Creek and Spring Lake are a great way to become closer with nature while also getting in a nice workout. Purgatory Creek can be split into three sections generally referred to as Prospect Park, upper Purgatory and lower Purgatory. Each section provides visitors with many trails along which they can brush elbows with real life flora and fauna. The Spring Lake natural area sits above the headwaters of the San Marcos River and helps support 5 endangered species. This ecological jewel can be accessed by parking at the Texas Rivers Center off of Aquarena Drive and making a short hike up to the beginning of the trailhead signified by blue trail markers and a sheltered kiosk. The San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department offers educational programs for both children and adults on the 251 acres of land.