Today is my husband’s birthday and lucky me got to go for a hike with him ! We were excited to check out this state park after seeing it online and realizing how close it was and that you can canoe there. But first we took a drive out to Lockhart yesterday where we spent a couple of bucks on some smoked meats at the Famous Black’s Barbecue.
The “Original Black’s Barbecue” opened in 1932. Now 4 generations of the Edgar Black family later , the Original Black’s in Lockhart is the oldest BBQ joint in Texas, always owned by the same family!
Named a “Top 50 in Texas BBQ Joint” by the Texas Monthly magazine, the Original Black’s BBQ continues to serve generations of Texans. ~ quote from their website
We are thrilled to be able to report to our Texas barbecue-loving friends and family that we approve of the quality and give it a 5 star review. Beef brisket is king in Texas and Black’s delivered a smoky, moist, tender treat. The sides were also very tasty. There’s nothing worse than getting factory made potato salad with your slow-smoked barbecue! But all of Black’s sides are freshly prepared. The employees were nice and patient with these two old farts from out of town. I told the cashier that it was my husband’s birthday and asked her how old she thought he was , then she asked how old did I think she was. My husband and I both simultaneously said 25 but she claimed she was 20. Oops! Maybe she was pulling our leg. We took a seat at one of the long wooden tables and begin our evaluation of the meat and sides. It was so good , my mouth is watering just typing this!
After a terrible night’s sleep on a too-soft bed in a not-cold-enough hotel room, we packed up and headed out to check out Palmetto State Park in Gonzales, not too far from Lockhart. We must be acclimating again to the boiling Texas summer temps because we didn’t even worry about the fact that the high for today was going to be around 100 degrees. Based on the photos we’d seen, the trails were shady. We passed by the Luling Buc-ees on the way down highway 183 and it was like Grand Central Station! We decided that we really need to buy some stock in that super popular convenience store/tourist trap. You would have thought they were giving away free gas from how many cars were trying to get into the driveway. A couple of miles further down the road we saw a sign directing us to turn right into the park. We stopped at a scenic overlook to take a couple of photos and lamented the litter we saw. But the view was beautiful.
Then we drove a couple more miles down the park road through a tunnel of trees before we reached the actual park headquarters and entrance, passing the town of Ottine on the same road, which I thought was odd.
Thanks to our Texas state parks pass we didn’t have to pay to get in, but this park is only $3 for adults and children over 13. We grabbed a park map and a trail map and our ticket showing we had paid. Then we drove across the Oxbow lake bridge and into the main park on the other side of the river and were soon parked and ready to start our hike at the CCC Refrectory Parking area. They were setting up for an event in the Refrectory so we did not go inside. The Trailhead is right next to the parking area.
We decided to hike all of the main trails on the map for a little over 3 miles , and we ended up with 3.5 miles on my Garmin watch by the time we were finished. This hike took about 1.5 hours including taking photos and looking at things. The trail surface was wide, flat, pea gravel, well maintained in most areas, with a few areas that had obviously been flooded and were now hard dirt. The Ottine Swamp trail was very pretty and had lots of palmetto plants and a few green bogs. The Mesquite Trail was a little less shady and warmer but still mostly shady. The San Marcos River trail had some huge trees. All trails had wooden benches along the way.
We took a short detour down the Palmetto Interpretive trail to see the CCC Water Tower built in 1936. This was a very scenic trail.
My husband was eager to get down to the water’s edge on the river trail so we were keeping our eyes open for a little side trail. We finally found a trail but there was not enough beach to safely get in and out of the water there.
Later, after we returned to the van, we spotted the River access trail/Low Water Crossing which is in the same area where we were parked at the Refrectory. It’s not shown on the Trail map but it is on the main park map. We followed some people that were headed down to the river and were a bit surprised when we got down to it and there was no beach. Those people had to do a little wading to get out to a sort of side beach along the bank. But my husband spotted an area on the other side that he thought might offer beach access so off we went bushwhacking on an overgrown side trail which eventually took us where he wanted to go. He took off his shoes and shirt and cautiously entered the water . The current was fast in the middle , but there was also a calm area so it was safe. He loves the water, but I don’t really like getting into lakes and rivers that much, I prefer swimming pools, so I just took photos.
We both enjoyed this park very much. The hike was not hilly, technical trails that I usually choose, but it’s nice to take an easy path once in a while. I recommend that you take at least a liter or quart of water or sports drink along if you are going to hike all three miles, maybe more if you are a slower hiker. Also, as usual, starting your hike in the morning is always the best idea in the summer. It was noon when we finished and it was in the mid- 90s in the shade. This park floods when the San Marcos river floods, so be sure to check their website before going if it’s in the rainy season. The campsites looked nice and boat rentals are available. Happy hiking!
If you liked this post, please check out my other hiking posts.