Palmetto Interpretive Trail

Palmetto State Park, Texas

Elevation Gain4ft
Trailhead Elevation318ft
Elevation Min/Max317/319ft
Elevation Start/End318/318ft

Palmetto Interpretive Trail

Palmetto Interpretive Trail is a hiking trail in Gonzales County, Texas. It is within Palmetto State Park. It is 0.2 miles long and begins at 318 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 0.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 4 feet. Near the trailhead there is a water tower. This trail connects with the following: Ottine Swamp Trail.

Palmetto Interpretive Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"About 10 miles SE of Luling. Two easy adjacent trails in a lush swampland. Special Attractions: A relict bog leftover from cooler, wetter times."

"The 263-acre Palmetto State Park was named for the dwarf palmetto that occurs along the San Marcos River in the park’s Ottine Swamp. The area lies at the point where the blackland prairie, post oak savannah, and coastal plains biogeographic regions converge; it represents the western edge of the dwarf palmetto’s range.

The Palmetto and River trails are self-guided, with numbered posts. A booklet provides the user with the identification and description of several common plants. Of historic interest are the structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, including an outdoor pavilion constructed of native sandstone, a large water storage tower, and a hydraulic pump (one of the few operating ram-jet pumps in existence), needed to maintain a water supply to the palmetto wetlands.

Key birds include: Wood Duck, Crested Caracara, Wild Turkey, Greater Roadrunner, Green Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, and Grasshopper Sparrow; Anhinga; Black-bellied Whistling Duck; Purple Gallinule; Chuck-will’s-widow; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher; Prothonotary, Swainson’s, and Kentucky Warblers; Indigo and Painted Buntings; and Dickcissel."

"This loop follows the upgraded trail system at this old-time state park. You’ll travel bluffs along the San Marcos River on a gravel track and wander through wooded wetlands bridging a jumble of tributaries to come to a swamp forest where palmettos thrive in impressive concentrations."

"This park along the San Marcos River is an area where the ranges of eastern and western vegetation species merge. It is named for the tropical dwarf palmetto plants that blanket a usually swampy area of the park. These are plants found in east and southeast Texas, but rarely north and west of here.

Three trails that start within a short distance of each other can be combined for a hike with a variety of landscapes and scenery. The parking lot is next to the picnic shelter, a converted refectory built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s of native rock and, originally, a roof of thatched palmetto."

"Nature lovers will enjoy the trail as it passes near the San Marcos River. The area contains perfect habitat for birds, frogs, insects, and possibly a snake or two. Watch for springs in the swampy area, which many years ago contained hot springs and mud boils.

See the remnants of hot springs, which, in the 1930s, people thought cured polio. From the trailhead, pass a small clearing where a few dwarf palmettos are growing beneath taller trees. The woods continue for the balance of the hike and furnish welcome shade.

After completing a couple of turns, come to a sign on the left that indicates the presence of a mud boil. Look hard—there is no boiling mud, just a wet depression in
the ground near the sign. Prior to the 1970s, this area was wetter and had more thermal activity, including hot springs that created mud boils. This activity probably ended due to changes brought about by the widespread drilling for oil and water."

"Palmetto State Park offers excellent short trail options that can be hiked during a single outing. Palmetto Trail and Lake Trail have been combined into a single hike.

The Palmetto Trail conjures scenes from the film Jurassic Park, with clinging vines, dwarf palmettos, and green ponds in the Ottine Swamp. Lake Trail circles the four-acre Oxbow Lake, formed by the meandering San Marcos River, which offers a variety of vegetation and possibly some water snakes."

"Palmetto State Park offers three excellent short trail options that can be hiked separately or during a single outing. East and west Texas ecosystems meet up on these trails. The Palmetto Trail conjures scenes from the film Jurassic Park, with clinging vines, dwarf palmettos, green ponds, and a variety of insects in the Ottine Swamp.

The four-acre oxbow lake, formed by the meandering San Marcos River and visited via the Lake Trail, offers a variety of vegetation and possibly some water snakes. The Hiking Trail takes you under a dense forest cover to an operating hydraulic ram-jet pump built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Palmetto State Park is a stop on Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Great Texas Birding Trail."

Palmetto Interpretive Trail Reviews

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This is a beautiful park. Not crowded at all. Very nice and well marked trails.

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Trail Information

Palmetto State Park
Nearby City
Palmetto State Park
Dog-friendly, Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Skill Level
Palmetto State Park
Local Contacts
USGS Ottine
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018