Things To Do in Guadalupe River State Park and Boerne, TX: Hiking and Small Town Charm
November 21, 2020
At Guadalupe River State Park, you can swim next to majestic old bald cypress trees, paddle through rapids and spot wild armadillos on your hikes!
This Texas Hill Country Park has 4 miles of riverfront access to the Guadalupe River, making the water a focal point for visiting. However, the scenery is beautiful whether you swim or not. The park is located an hour north of San Antonio and 30 minutes from the charming town of Boerne.
Please make it a priority to Leave No Trace when exploring the outdoors. This includes leaving nothing behind, respecting wildlife, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting those around you, planning ahead and traveling on durable surfaces. For more details, read about the seven principles at lnt.org.
You can enjoy the Guadalupe River in many ways at this park! Pack your bathing suit and cool off in the river. Or bring an inner tube or raft and float down the river through some light rapids and among gorgeous terrain. It is also a great place to kayak or canoe.
There is a new 5 mile paddling trail that begins in Guadalupe River State Park and ends in the nearby Nichols Landing Co Park. See the route on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. The Guadalupe River is also very popular for tubing trips but they typically begin further east, after the Canyon Lake dam.
The park is divided into two areas for hiking, divided north and south of the river. The northern portion is called the Bauer Unit and offers more remote hiking and biking trails. The Bauer Unit was unfortunately closed for controlled hunting when I visited, so be sure to check if it’s open before visiting.
You’ll find some more difficult trails in the Bauer Unit with steep elevation gains through the hills and forest. Also note that visiting the Bauer Unit from the main entrance involves crossing the river, so you’ll likely get wet depending on water levels. However, there is also a separate parking lot for the Bauer Unit if you just want to go to this part!
The southern portion of the park has trails that are mostly flat and easy. The Painted Bunting Trail winds through prairie land and bits of forest. This trail has several glimpses of Texas Hill country views and is a great area for wildlife spotting! This is the longest trail in the park (2.8 miles) but it goes by really quickly because it was very flat.
The short River Overlook Trail gives you a view over the Guadalupe River. The view is nice but not overly impressive, I preferred being right next to the river on the Cedar Sage River Trail. The Cedar Sage River Trail goes right along the river and has beautiful views throughout. This is also where you’ll find beach areas to enter the river.
The Guadalupe River State Park is truly great for wildlife sightings! I saw three armadillos scurrying through the bushes and across trails. Also while I was there, a group of photographs and birders saw a white peacock near the picnic area. I’m no expert on birds but this is apparently quite rare!
Guadalupe River offers several campsites with electricity and a few walk in campsites with water. The walk in campsites have a good amount of tree cover and are still within 100 yards of the restroom. They are a great spot to relax in nature near the Guadalupe River. Campsites can be reserved up to 5 months in advance.
Boerne has a population of about 18,000 and is a charming hill country town with a great mix of local shops, nature parks and restaurants. The town was founded in 1849 by German colonists and is full of history. It is the home to the second oldest courthouse building in Texas and to a western town that is often used in movies (available for events).
Boerne is a great place to combine with your visit to Guadalupe River, as the two are only 20 minutes apart.
Boerne is really pleasant and a great alternative to more popular and touristy towns like Fredericksburg. It is small but still has a lot to do!
There are some beautiful boutique hotels in the heart of Boerne. Check out historic The Kendall, which was a stagecoach stop in 1859. The hotel overlooks Cibolo Creek and includes cabins and cottages along with more traditional rooms. You can even sleep in an old school house building or a former Lutheran Church!
The William is another charming hotel located on Main Street in Boerne. The hotel does a great job of creating a luxury experience with beautiful little touches like artfully arranged towels and gourmet room service from Cypress Grille.
On Airbnb, check out this adorable Little Red Farmhouse to sleep in a beautiful form with an open floor plan and everything you need. It even has a chicken coop where you can pick up some farm fresh eggs!
Be sure to stroll down Main Street Boerne. Visit the Main Plaza Park and the wide variety of shops and restaurants.
Check out Flashback Funtiques for a fun mix of retro antiques, like neon signs and pinball machines. Most of the items are large but it’s definitely fun to view! You’ll see Elsie the cow outside, who is often dressed up for the season!
Also check out the boutique at Dienger Trading Co for a variety of gifts and clothing. Dienger is also a bistro and bakery and serves a delicious breakfast. You can get pie, croissants, avocado toast and a variety of other brunch items.
To hang out in a spacious brewery, visit Tusculum Brewing Company. Tusculum Brewing Company has a large space in an historic building along with a beer garden. They serve a great selection of drinks, delicious charcuterie boards, sandwiches and more.
Cibolo Creek Brewing Company is also a great option. They source all of their food from local farms and have outdoor seating with picnic tables.
If you’re in the mood for pizza or pasta, check out Richter Tavern. Richter Tavern has 1920’s decor and a great atmosphere. They claim to be the oldest bar in Texas Hill country and serve cold beer, flights of margaritas and more on their extensive drink menu.
To find traditional German and Czech food, be sure to visit Little Gretel. Enjoy schnitzel, goulash, sauerkraut and a variety of other options with a cold Pilsner Urquell in their large beer garden. They also serve kolaches in interesting flavors, like the ‘Wurst Saurkraut.’
For a treat, check out the Salty & Sweet candy shop. They serve ice cream, popcorn, soft pretzels and a huge selection of nostalgic candy. I found the popcorn flavors particularly interesting - they have a number of rotating flavors that include everything from Pina Colada to Cincinnati Chili!
The Cibolo Nature Center and Farm is a beautiful park for a stroll in nature in Boerne. There are miles of trails that wind through different terrain, from prairie grass to the Cibolo Creek lined with bald cypress trees.
You’ll also find the Herff Farm here, which teaches about modern sustainable living. The nature center hosts a variety of events like stargazing, volunteer events and concerts. The nature center is beautiful to visit and is perfect for families.
For a park closer to Main Street, check out River Road Park. The park has picnic spots and is home to numerous ducks and geese. A trail along the Cibolo Creek connects the park to the Main Street Plaza Park and the Kendall Hotel. It is about a 40 minute walk between the two.
There are multiple cave systems located very close to the Guadalupe River and Boerne. Cascade Caverns is just 15 minutes outside of Boerne. It features an underground waterfall, a beautiful Cathedral room and interesting wildlife like salamanders, bats and cave beetles.
The Cave without a Name is located 20 minutes outside of Boerne and 40 minutes from Guadalupe River State Park. It is known for amazing natural acoustics; so much so that they regularly have concerts inside the cave.
San Antonio is about 35 minutes south of Boerne and an hour from Guadalupe River State Park. I have a separate guide on visiting the city, check it out!
The popular German town of Fredericksburg is located just over an hour north of Guadalupe River State Park and 40 minutes from Boerne. Check out my blog post on visiting!
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