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Take a Hike

Royal Road

Nabedache Loop at Mission Tejas State Park

Distance: .99 miles (loop) • Difficulty Level: 2/5 • Approximate Time:  45 minutes (hike)

You can trace the origins of Mission Tejas State Park to a dispute between two world superpowers.

France and Spain both coveted the land that is now Texas. After French colonists settled on the coast in 1685, the Spaniards responded by building Mission San Francisco de los Tejas in a Caddo village in 1690, the first mission in the province of Texas.

In the 1930s, local citizens bought land to commemorate the mission, and Mission Tejas State Park followed.

The park’s Nabedache Loop, named for a Caddo tribe, is a moderately easy and invigorating walk in the woods that takes you past the remnants of El Camino Real, the Royal Road that Spaniards traversed to build missions and maintain their presence in Texas.

The trail encircles a surprising pocket prairie amid the pines and hardwoods of East Texas.

“It’s a unique ecosystem in the middle of the woods,” says park Superintendent Gary Coker.

After following the San Pedro Spur to access the Nabedache Loop, a left turn takes you to a bird blind, where wildlife watchers can see woodpeckers, cardinals, sparrows and thrushes.

A short distance later, San Pedro Creek appears, with creekside benches for resting. The trail roughly follows the creek for a while, with bottomland hardwood trees on the outside of the loop and grasslands on the inside. As the trail doubles back, it follows the base of a slope filled with pines and hardwoods. Along this section, traces of El Camino Real come into view.

“It’s like a big swale, a ravine, reflecting years and years of travel,” Coker says. “It’s really visible for 50 to 100 feet.”

The park attracts school classes as a lesson in Texas history.

“It’s a nice place to stop and reflect on how Texas got started,” Coker says. “Just about everybody you see in a Texas history book, all of them probably spent time on El Camino Real.”  

 Russell Roe  Sonja Sommerfeld | TPWD

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