Trip Report: Palmetto State Park
On Wednesday, August 6th My Brother, BeeGee, and myself went on our second official trip since starting this blog. I hope to keep visiting interesting places throughout Texas and reporting back so the information is freely available.
|BeeGee & Jarrett and BeeGee & Jack Looking Cool at the Entrance Sign|
Location: 78 Park Road 11 South, Gonzales, TX 78629
Admission: $3 per adult; Children under 12 are free
Elevation: 480 to 600 ft.
Weather: Sunny, hot, 82 to 90F
Palmetto State Park is located in Gonzales County and is close to Gonzales and Lulling, Texas. The San Marcos River runs through the park and there is a 4-acre lake as well. The park offers hiking, camping, RV hook ups, fishing, canoeing, tubing, paddle boating, a cabin to rent, and a pavilion to rent. Canoes, tubes, and paddleboats can be rented and used in Oxford Lake. The park has 6 trails and 2 spurs for hiking. The trails total 4.3 miles and a total walkable distance of 4.91 miles.
The land for Palmetto State Park was purchased from private landowners and the City of Gonzales from 1934 to 1936. Palmetto State Park is another park built by the Civilian Conservation Corp that was completed and opened in 1936. In addition, the park is covered in dwarf palmetto plants, which have a very tropical look.
|Dwarf Palmetto Plant Growing Around a Wooden Bridge|
Park HQ Trail
|The Park Headquarters Trailhead|
|The Oxbow Lake Trailhead|
Ottine Swamp Trail
|The Ottine Swamp Trailhead|
|Boardwalk on The Ottine Swamp Trail|
All along this trail little lizards darted along the edge of the trail. This drives BeeGee crazy and she will pounce like a cat any chance she gets to try and check those fast little lizards. As far as I know she has never succeeded in catching one, but she hasn't let that stop her.
|Dried Swamp on the Ottine Trail|
Excitingly, there was an abundant amount of wildlife on this trail. We saw deer, swamp rabbits, lizards, birds, and butterflies. It was a struggle sometimes to keep BeeGee calm with all the other living creatures out there to chase.
|Two Deer Hiding Along the Ottine Swamp Trail|
Mesquite Flats Trail
|One of The Mesquite Flats Trailheads|
The mesquite tree is neat or a nuisance depending on your view. The tree its self is short with thorns and is used to make furniture or wood fires for barbeque. However, mesquite tree roots grow very deep, which results in other vegetation being killed around the trees. In addition, the seed pods have a sweet honey taste and the seeds can be cooked, ground, and used in bread. Just don't eat the seeds raw as it can make you sick.
San Marcos River Trail
|One of the San Marcos River Trailheads|
The San Marcos River Trail is famous for its mud boil, which is one the Palmetto State Park’s main attractions. A mud boil is deep water that is heated and bubbles up to the surface. Unfortunately, Palmetto State Park’s mud boil has been dry since 1970 due to a lower water table. All that is left on the San Marcos Trail’s mud boil is a dried depression with green vegetation growing in the location.
Palmetto Interpretive Trail
|Palmetto Interpretive Trailhead|
All along the trail are signs that describe the unique wildlife and plants of the park, local heritage, and other interesting information. In addition, the Civilian Construction Corp’s artesian well is located on this trail. The well provides the water to maintain the natural look of the Park’s swamps. Finally, be prepared for a sulfur smell in this area and increased humidity.
Palmetto State Park has multiple things to do with the whole family, from camping to fishing to swimming. In addition, the park is close to Lulling where there is also excellent barbeque. Just be mindful that the park is home to rattle snakes and be safe when swimming in Oxbow Lake or the San Marcos River. Therefore, if you are new to hiking or camping and looking for something close to home, I strongly recommend this park. If you are an experienced trail blazer, I would look elsewhere unless you need to get out to hike and are short on time.
If you have ever been to Palmetto State Park, let me know your thoughts and feel free to mention anything I missed.