Guadalupe River (Spring Branch, Texas) 28-Feb-2023

Having seen the dinosaur tracks that brought us to Texas, we decided to make a river the objective for our second hike in the Lone Star state. The San Antonio River was close at hand but, instead, we decided to drive a short ways north to visit Guadalupe River State Park near Spring Branch. This would be the only Texas state park we’d visit on this trip.

Again, having a reservation sped our entry into the park. While we didn’t encounter lots of people while hiking, it did look as though many of the park’s campsites were either already reserved or occupied. So, again, a popular location – with swimming in the hot summer – less than an hour north of metro San Antonio.

The park is divided into two units: the main unit south of the river and the Bauer Unit across the river to the north. There’s no bridge across the river here, so it’s a 20 minute drive on country roads from one unit to the other.

Hiking the Main Unit

We started out clockwise on the Painted Bunting Trail loop (the Buntings weren’t scheduled to arrive for another month 🐦) and expanded the loop by including the Barred Owl and Live Oak Trails.

Guadalupe River, Guadalupe River State Park, Texas
Starting out on the Painted Bunting Trail
Through parts of an oak and juniper woodland on the Painted Bunting
Tiny Lace Cactus (E. reichenbachii)
Under a canopy of oaks
On the Barred Owl Trail
Guadalupe River, Guadalupe River State Park, Texas
A glimpse of the Guadalupe River from the Barred Owl Trail
On the Live Oak Trail
An oak in winter
Back on the Painted Bunting Trail
Past an old prescribed burn to clear Ashe Junipers
And back to the trailhead…
At the River

From the Painted Bunting, we drove a short distance to the Bald Cypress Trail along the south bank of the river. The Bald Cypress trees that line the river are massive and an impressive sight. Their girth at the water line is amazing!

Guadalupe River, Guadalupe River State Park, Texas
Bald Cypress line the river
Guadalupe River, Guadalupe River State Park, Texas
Bald Cypress
These Cypress are big and well-rooted (this one has a DBH of about 6 feet (1.8 m))
Guadalupe River, Guadalupe River State Park, Texas
Guadalupe River, Guadalupe River State Park, Texas
Rock in the waters
Guadalupe River, Guadalupe River State Park, Texas
Looking downriver with Swallow Cliff on river left

The Guadalupe weaves around some but the park’s brochure is careful to point out that: “River does not flow in a circle. You will not come back around to the same place you put in.” Apparently, some tubers have gone on longer floats than anticipated. 🙄

Hiking the Bauer Unit

The day had started out a little cool but had warmed considerably by the time we’d finished with the river and driven over to the Bauer Unit. There we had a snack in the shade and then decided, because of the rising heat and humidity, to confine our visit here to the historic Philip Bauer house.

The original house was built by Bauer in about 1878, sold to the Hofheinz family in 1932, and then occupied by the Bamberger’s until it and the surrounding lands were sold to the state in 1974. It’s still standing but definitely needs some major restoration work done.

We went out on the Bauer Trail – which is the road to the old house – and returned via the Hofheinz Connector and Hofheinz Trails because they offered some shade (which the Bauer Trail did not).

Although the house has been altered and added on to during its 100 or so years of existence, it still has the classic corrugated metal roof and large, deep porch that you find on older Hill Country houses. It is, however, just a wooden house and not one built of limestone like the Zizelmann House at Government Canyon.

The Bauer House
Philip Bauer House
Note the large porch
Starting back
Where their water came from
And back to the trailhead on the Hofheinz Trail

Every time we come across an old farm house like the Bauer, we start speculating about life in the country at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th Century. Although the river is nearby, reliable water was probably always an issue, especially if you wanted to water crops.

And back then, this river was capable of some impressive floods – which might take your crops with them. And, of course, the heat. That said, I guess I’d rather have been here back in the day rather than at my grandparents homestead outside Bismarck, North Dakota. Better to boil than freeze… 😏

The End

Our loop in the main unit plus our short hike in the Bauer Unit came to a total of 5.8 miles (9.3 km) with 270 feet (82 m). The little Lace Cactus and the massive Bald Cypress were the highlights in the main unit, while the historic house was (obviously) the high point in the Bauer Unit. Things had gotten a tad warm and humid by the time we started back from the Bauer House but, all in all, these were a pair of pretty good hikes. 😁

Our two hikes at Guadalupe River State Park (B – Bauer House)

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