Prairie, Painted Bunting, Barred Owl, and Live Oak Trails Loop

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Guadalupe River State Park

Prairie, Painted Bunting, Barred Owl, and Live Oak Trails Loop is a 8.2 kilometer 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 are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 8.2 km Elevation Gain: 72 m Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly


horseback riding

mountain biking






wild flowers


Texas State Parks are open for day use. Due to COVID-19 parks require reservations. You must reserve and print day passes before you arrive, wear a face mask, practice social distancing in the park, and limit groups to 5 or less. More info can be found here: Lovely flat country taking you through open fields and oak stands. This loop is a combination of several trails in the Guadalupe River State Park. There are multiple areas to access this trail, besides the one shown on this page. If you'd like to shorten this loop, you can just cut off the Barred Owl Trail, and Live Oak Trail on the northern side of the loop, and stay on Painted Bunting the whole time before returning to the parking area. 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.

Easy trail though not very much cover. Best to do early in the day before the sun.

2 months ago

Took a quick trip with the family on Sunday. Weather was perfect—in the 60s, and this was a nice, easy hike through both oak forest and open fields, largely the result of a previous fire. Great views, especially high above the river.

I was really nervous when I was stuck in a line to get into the park at 8:30am but when I was on the trail, I spent 85% completely alone with no other people to be seen. It was a different scenery than what I’m accustomed to, felt like I was walking through the bad lands with all the dead trees but it was very cool! Overall enjoyed the hike. Not for the weak ankles.

6 months ago

This trail is nice to get out of town for a walk. The overlook was good enough for a picture. Nothing special.

7 months ago

Nice easy hike, good for getting back on the trail after a hiatus

8 months ago

The Guadalupe River State Park offers a variety of scenery, but it's main focus is definitely the river area. With that being said, there are plenty of trails in the park (on both sides of the river). The Painted Bunting Trail is an easy trail, but it offers a nice, relaxing jaunt through the Texas Hill Country. For the mosty part, the Painted Bunting is a mix of dirt single-track and double-wide rocky path that passes through oak stands and grassy meadows. There is very little elevation change, so it could make a great loop for trail running or hikers not looking for much of a workout. Overall, the scenery is typical Hill Country: dry grassy areas, patches of dead live oaks, and bunches of oak groves.

10 months ago

Was easy, only about 200 feet of elevation change, minimal shade, and rocky for a good portion.

11 months ago

The trail was nice and fairly flat. I would suggest hiking it counterclockwise to get the most shade at the end of the hike.

11 months ago

Nice trail, one half is nice and shady but the other is pretty open. I’d recommend doing the south side first and then work the north portion later to maximize shade as heat increases. Pretty trail and easy minus some spots with big roots and rocks that can be ankle rollers.

11 months ago

Great easy trail. Dogs loved it go early in the morning to find good parking. Bring a swim suit so that after your hike you can cool off in the river. Bring plenty of water for you and Fido. Go early or stay late and go to the bird blind for views of birds that pass through. Bring a field book to identify all the wild flowers. Will be back for sure.

Fri May 17 2019

We hiked it past leaf color peak. Some of the trail isn't well marked and we couldn't see the river at the lookout points because it was a bit overgrown. It was a nice easy walk though.

Wed Apr 17 2019

An overcast but lovely day to hike. This is a favorite trail. This time of year it’s full of wild flowers and if you are quiet, you often see axis and white tail deer. The birds will start singing and showing themselves if you stay still for a few minutes too. Lots of views of the hills. I connected to the Oak Savannah Loop and was treated to a hillsides of hot pink blooming hedgehog cacti. It was stunning. There is more to the park than the River.

Sat Mar 30 2019

I managed to turn this into a 7.x mile hike and I could have done more. Only thing I did not like was the amount of forest burned and tge amount of sun exposure.

Mon Mar 25 2019

Very pretty, very TX. Saw a hog and a deer with white spots.

Sun Dec 02 2018

This trail is extremely nice! Well kept and very flat for those of us that don’t like difficult hikes. Recently, there was a controlled burn in this area (as of Nov 2018) and this definitely impacted the appearance of the trail. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it looks a lot less green! Great trail for dogs and we saw horse tracks, so people are using the trail! Came across many others that were appearing to enjoy this area of the park as well.

Mon May 07 2018

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.

Mon Apr 23 2018

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

Tue Apr 17 2018

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

Sun Jan 14 2018

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
Sat Jul 22 2017

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.

Sat Jun 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.

Fri Jun 09 2017

Nice trail along the river

Sat 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.

Sun Apr 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.

Sat Apr 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.

Thu Mar 30 2017

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

Fri Nov 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.

Thu Aug 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.

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