Trip Report: Purgatory Creek Trails

Riding the Purgatory Creek Trails

Well I’ve been busy and I always mean to get back to blogging but end up too busy with life.  As the weather cools, I plan to get back out adventuring and return to blogging.  Another exciting note (which I completely forgot about), Adventures With BeeGee is now over a year old! Now it’s time for our latest bike trip report to Purgatory Creek. On July 19th Jack and I headed out for a ride after a long time without a trip.

Trailhead for Prospect Park
Purgatory Creek Natural Area Trailhead

The Background

Location: 1414 Prospect St, San Marcos, TX 78666
Admission: Free
Elevation: 600 to 750 ft
Weather: Sunny, Hot, 98F
Difficulty: intermediate

Check out the map before you head out
Information Booths at the Start of the Trail

The area is 570 acres and close to downtown San Marcos and make sure to have a look at the Purgatory Creek Map before you head out.  Furthermore, the Purgatory Creek Natural Area is broken up into three sections Prospect Park, Upper Purgatory, and Lower Purgatory.  There are various types of terrain in the area, but the most frequent is cedar (juniper) trees and limestone covered trails. Finally, the area is open to bikers and hikers alike, but has some areas only for hiking.

stone art in the distance
The scenery from the dam, lots of stone art down below

Starting Out

After unloading and getting geared up, we took off from the Prospect Park trailhead only to have Jack puncture his tire by hitting sharp limestone 50 yards into the ride.  After what seemed like an hour-long tube change in the hot sun, we headed off in search of adventure. We headed down Virgil’s Trail, which had some rough limestone at the top of a hill. But, as we traveled down, the trail became mostly flat and took us through an area of tall grass.  I was not a fan of the tall grass area, but it was the only way to get to the other trails.
Jack checking out the damage to his tire
Jack checking out the damage to his tire

After that, we just fumbled along for the next few miles not sticking to a single trail and using trail crossovers in a choose your own adventure session.  This led us under the Wonder World Rd overpass.  We then headed over to the dam and checked that out for a bit.  Then we road by what is called “The Pit” before finally making it to the Hunter Rd trailhead. 

Nasty looking water below
Overlooking "The Pit"

Dante’s and Paraiso Trails

From there we jumped on Dante’s Trail, which is the longest trail in the park. Where we started, the trail was pretty smooth with nothing to serious; however, there are multiple sections on this trail, which are intermediate or advanced.  Most of the trail wasn’t an issue heading down hill, but the uphill stretches over all the limestone was brutal.  We ended up doing a lot more walking of sections than I would have liked and because of the heat quite a few rest breaks.  

technical riding ahead
Section of limestone trail

We eventually made it to Paraiso Trail, which forms a loop with Dante’s at the end of the park. Paraiso turned out to be similar to Dante’s, with lots of brutal limestone riding and hills. The ending of the Paraiso ended up being pretty intense with a long, steep downhill over loose rock.  It was just enough to keep you on your toes without being way too difficult. 

Easy riding down, tough riding up
A long stretch of rocky riding on Dante's Trail

We finally linked back up with Dante’s and began our exhausted ride back to the car, but we took one final rest at Grandma’s Oak before heading out. Thankfully, Jack knew where some 4x4 trail that paralleled Dante’s and we were able to ride something a little smoother for a ways back to the car.

A big old oak tree
Checking out Grandma's tree

Final Thoughts

I was glad to get back out there on a ride finally, but Purgatory Creek ended up being a pretty tough ride on an extremely hot day.  I don’t know that I will ever go back because all the trails are pretty similar with the only challenge being limestone.  However, there are multiple groups that are actively working to increase and upgrade the trails.  If you live in the area, get out there and ride it, but I wouldn’t travel too far.

If you've ever been out to Purgatory Creek Natural Area, let me know your thoughts are and where to find the best ride?  As we get back into the swing of things, keep up to date on all our adventures and post by following us on Facebook.


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