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Take a Hike

History’s Footsteps

Goliad’s San Antonio River Trail

Distance: 1 mile (one-way) • Difficulty Level: 2/5 • Approximate Time: 30 minutes (one-way)

Goliad is one of the few state parks that are both a state park and historic site. There’s history, lots of it, and plenty of nature and recreation, too.

Native Americans, Spanish missionaries, Texian soldiers and early settlers walked the land here, and the whitewashed walls of the restored Mission Espíritu Santo tower over the park.

You can walk the land here, too, on the park’s San Antonio River Trail.

“Most people do come for the history, but a lot of them also enjoy the nature,” says lead park interpreter Emily Byrd. “We have quite a lot to offer in terms of natural resources — with the river and changes in ecosystems.”

The 1-mile trail follows the course of the San Antonio River as it winds around the park. The thick woodlands along the river provide a contrast to the dry South Texas chaparral.

Trees such as live oaks, sycamores, pecans and persimmons provide shade, shelter and food for wildlife. Byrd likes keeping an eye out for purple leatherflower, a dark-purple, bell-shaped flower. Notable wildlife includes the Texas indigo snake and two types of kingfishers (belted and green).

The trail passes two tent camping areas. At the Longhorn camp area, a detour can take you to the Cardinal’s Haven bird blind.

“We are in a unique spot for birding,” Byrd says. “We have northern species and we also have southern species like green jays and kiskadees. We are at a meeting point of bird groups.”

The trail continues under U.S. Highway 183, and just across the river here lies more history — the historic Presidio La Bahía, Zaragoza Birthplace and Fannin Memorial.

From there, the trail passes the take-out point for the Goliad Paddling Trail and ends at the Jacales Camping Area.

If you want to make a loop and not retrace your steps, Byrd suggests following the park road back to the trailhead. 

 Russell Roe  Sonja Sommerfeld | TPWD

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