Painted Bunting to River Overlook Loop

EASY 85 reviews

Painted Bunting to River Overlook Loop is a 5.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Spring Branch, Texas that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

5.1 miles
236 feet

dog friendly

kid friendly



horseback riding

mountain biking

trail running





wild flowers



Lovely flat country taking you through open fields and oak stands. This hike is a crowd pleasure with flat open areas interrupted by stands of oak trees. There is lots of wildlife and it's not uncommon to see deer as well as hawks, armadillos, large lizards (18-24 inches) and snakes. This hike is completely flat but does have some tricky parts to the trail. Watch your step in certain areas as there are lots of loose rock to sprain an ankle on.

2 months ago

A grouping of several trails that can be scaled up to the full five miles or scaled back to as little as three miles. The centerpiece is the painted bunting trail (have not seen a painted bunting yet), which is 70% meadow to 30% forest. In Spring, the flowers are your main attraction and, if the trail has not been recently mowed, grasshoppers might bounce off of you as you forge ahead. In Winter, the attraction is the unrestrained wind carrying the intoxicating scent of distant fireplaces. You will hike several inclines, but none too high or too rough (just rough enough). You will have to hop-scotch over the rocks; most have been placed by nature at intervals that will favor your feet, but do keep your eyes on the ground as you navigate them. It is true the surroundings are not the most handsome; this is the grizzled Hill Country landscape, after all, and I believe some controlled burns were conducted in the past, giving the place a war-torn appearance in spots. On the other hand, the open view allows you to scan occasionally for feral hogs, whom you might see trotting about. A distant hello is sufficient for these creatures. If you are scaling up, you will detour off the painted bunting trail at the crossroads down inside what I call the 'valley of the souls' (you'll know it when you see it) onto the live oak and river overlook trails. On this detour the view narrows and the rocks get ornery. You can wander off-trail to gaze upon the Guadalupe and wonder who else has been there as the centuries have passed, but do not stop for long, lest you lose the hang of getting through the gauntlet of stone. You will eventually pick up the painted bunting trail again and be hit with the hike's rudest incline. Hit it with all your vigor and it tends to back down. Then you're in open country again (or at the parking lot). Congratulations, it is accomplished.

2 months ago

Nice 3 mike loop, meadows/wild flowers, tricky rocky areas fun on a good MTB, some uphills, few downhills, easy-moderate.

3 months ago

Trails were clean and fun! Met lots of nice people.

6 months ago

Wife and I enjoyed the 5 mile Painted Bunting loop today. During our entire hike we only came across 2 other hikers which was nice. Also, we were able to find 5 geocaches which made the hike a bit more exciting! We didn’t come across any trash which was a definite plus! Very clean.

mountain biking
11 months ago

Decent ride. Some areas will get a bit tricky for novice riders (like me) near the river. Get here early as the parking spaces fill up and the parade of people make their way with coolers and floaters to the river.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Took my 2 boys and my dog. They loved it! We stayed on the trail close to the river due to the weather being hot and humid. Not too far from New Braunfels. The drive over there was relaxing. There is an entrance fee. $7 for adults. Kids 12 and under are free. We will definitely come back.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Nice trail along the river

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Its a nice Nike through the savanna combining several of the state Park trails. The Nature is beautiful but not stunning. If you do only this one you will not See much of the river.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

This loop should be rated as "easy", definitely not moderate. Double track almost the entire way, and only a few key hole views of the river on this 5 mile loop. Trails are very well marked. Very few shaded sections.

There are other trails that are more challenging with better scenery within the park though.

trail running
Saturday, April 01, 2017

Park was nice and well run. Some people on river and every campsite full. Trails were ok. Long enough. The real draw is the cypress lined river with a huge limestone bluff backdrop. River water looked so clear.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Enjoyed the trail along the river. Also recommend the bird viewing area.

Friday, November 25, 2016

There are 15 named trails in Guadalupe River State Park. This particular loop is made up of 3 to 5 of them. The largest of the trails on this loop is Painted Bunting which is a loop trail itself. The northern portion is made up of River Overlook on the west side and Live Oak on the west. Two small trails that can be added to the south end are Prairie and Oak Savannah where Prairie is a connector to Oak Savannah or add the small balance of it past Oak as an O/B. Oak Savannah gives you the best long distance views of the hill country of any of these trails. Well maintained trails with rocky areas along River Overlook section. For more information on this park: Note: There are a number of clear pictures of the river or on the river in the Photo Section. Those did not come from this loop, but from Bald Cypress, Barred Owl, or north of the river trails.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

easy easy. but if you get there very early in the a.m. and hike the Prarie and painted bunting trails, you get a beautiful view of Texas meadow reclamation projects at work. very serene, and surprisingly lovely. very little cover- BRING SUNBLOCK, you'll need a repeat application. the river overlook trail DOES NOT offer an opportunity to get down to the river, at least not that I found, unless you had repelling gear..... good hike for families, can be done in sneakers.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Very pretty, but a little too easy for the experienced hiker. Lovely place though!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Loved it

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Really nice, especially walking along the river. Popular place, full of families swimming and picnicking.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Did the Bauer section, pretty much all jeep trails throughout so not very difficult. The end of the Bauer trail ends at the river, which is a nice area to break and there's an overlook of the day area in the main park with some good views.

mountain biking
Friday, March 04, 2016

Very entertaining

Monday, February 29, 2016

Hiked the (Bauer Unit) North of the river. Only one section is really a trail. The rest of the 6.9 miles is dirt road. Still very pretty and a nice walk/hike none the less.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

It was nice, simple and very relaxing to get away from it all. The best part is the river which can get packed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This was a good, easy trail to hike. I trailed by the river but didn't go in it. Some folks were fishing and having a grand time. My highlight was laying out on a big rock like a sunning snake while watching canoers paddle down the very low river. There are rocks to climb if you wish and great shade to take a nice break and eat a lunch. This is a good trail for younger kids.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hiked this in January and only encountered one other hiker. Would like to try again in the spring when everything is blooming. Not a lot of coverage and would be very hot in the warmer months.

Very easy 5 mile loop with minimal elevation gain. Trail does have many exposed, sharp rocks that could bother some hikers.

Good for a relaxing walk in nature.

mountain biking
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Good ride but very rocky! This is a great park with a lot of pretty scenery, and the river is beautiful!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

As a transplanted northerner, I was happy to find a place to view "fall foliage" - or as close as one can get - in Texas.

Once you get away from the river and onto the "real" trails, it gets nice and desolate. I passed very few people on the prairie trail. Because there is little cover on the trail, definitely go in the early morning during the warmer months. During the colder months, try for late morning/early afternoon if you want to enjoy the sun!

Don't miss the vistas from the top of the rock shelf - beautiful!

When you finish with you hike, head to the river to cool off.

PS. I don't think I'd ever head here in the summer - too many people to enjoy hiking with a dog!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The trails are nice and well-maintained, great for families, and foot traffic is light to moderate. A burn-affected section of the trail is now eerily beautiful, but most of it is still as lush as it gets in that part of the state. When you get tired, head to the river to wade in the cool, cliff-backed water.

mountain biking
Sunday, January 20, 2013

Very fun and technical trail. Love all the downhill parts, it's a great ride! Also the scenery is wonderful

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Great park. Wonderful walk along the river with all sorts of large trees with twisted exposed roots. Great place for camping, hiking, photos & nice slow moving stream for floating or kayaking

Monday, September 03, 2012

Love these trails easy to navigate good for butterfly and bird watching. State park staff is awesome one of the rangers showed us the host plant for the pipeline swallow tail butterfly. They also have a bird watching area! Love it here.

mountain biking
Monday, July 16, 2012

This is a short trail but at places very challenging. Mainly flat but extremely rocky in some places. At a couple of points you'll probably get off your bike and scratch your head thinking "seriously?" If you want to learn to ride rocks, this is a good place to start. But the shortness and convenience near San Antonio, Boerne and New Braunfles make this a perfect close by playground.

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