Dante's Loop through Purgatory Creek Natural Area

MODERATE 199 reviews

Dante's Loop through Purgatory Creek Natural Area is a 7.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near San Marcos, Texas that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

7.9 miles
452 feet

dogs on leash



mountain biking

nature trips

trail running





wild flowers



The 463-acre Purgatory Creek Natural Area is within the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, is home to Purgatory Creek, and includes upland meadows, canyon bluffs of 40 feet or more, dense juniper thickets, champion oaks, and a flood control dam.

2 months ago

My wife and I have been meaning to hike Purgatory Creek, so a few days after the rain, we went hiking. As everyone mentioned, traffic noise can be heard the closer you are to the trailhead but tapers off. The hike itself was OK...with a few lookouts along Dante’s Trail and wildlife, mainly deer, in the clearing along the trail. I thought it would be more scenic. Oh yeah, there’s still plenty of muddy areas and a swamp blocking Dante’s Trail close to the start. There are plenty of mosquitoes along the trail so make sure to apply generous amounts of bug juice.

3 months ago

We went after the rains and it was really too muddy. Will definitely return when it dries up! Easy access and pretty surroundings, too bad the highway noise is so near.

3 months ago

Nice little trail. No dramatic elevation gain and not too many people.

3 months ago

Come back again and again and we see something different each time. Deer, lizards, little grass snakes, a coral snake. Its awesome. Trail shared by hikers, dogs, runners and mountain bikers, but, its never busy. Tons of diversity. Smooth wide trail, rocky rooty trail, nothing but rocks rocks rocks trail, open meadow trail. It never gets old. Even has an overlook where you can sit for a minute and look at the trail below. The buzzards like to hang out on the overlook and glare at the hikers below. Bring water, there is no water in the park and while the majority of it is shaded a few sections are nothing but sun baked rock and in summer it gets HOT. There is a water fountain at the Hunters road entrance, and privies at both the Hunter and Craddock entrances. No benches within the park so be prepared to either find a nice rock to sit on of just be prepared to not stop moving. So.e sections have a very wilderness feel to them. Also, use this app. All the trails are marked but some intersections are marked a little weird and its easy to walk right past one if you're in a section that requires you to keep an eye on your footing.

4 months ago

it's got some distance to it don't forget to take a bottle of water or two, easy to moderate with some elevation included

5 months ago

Great trails and trail markings, moderately flat and curvy. Love the intersections and alternate trail routes available. But there's a lot of road noise from the nearby highway, but only on certain sections on the trail. Bring water.

trail running
5 months ago

I loved running this trail. It has a lot of variety. There are wide smooth parts to very rocky areas. I enjoyed the challenge of the hills and the rugged terrain. I ended up with 9 miles at 10:40 pace to include some walking parts. I can't wait to run it again!

6 months ago

Had a great time. Ended up 13.58 miles so it was a good hike. But the trails are poorly marked

trail running
7 months ago

Ran Dante's Loop there and back starting at Lower Purgatory. Tripped and fell 7 times, mostly on the upper portion. Too many roots and too rocky. Even if I didn't trip and fall, I couldn't enjoy the scenary because of the concentration the trail requires. Not what I am personally looking for with trail running. I might run the Lower portion again but not Upper. It makes for a fine hike though.

8 months ago

Make sure you have GPS. Some parts of the trail are clearly marked and other areas can be confusing. I planned a 4.3 mile hike and ended up doing 6.6 miles my 1st time out. It's a beautiful area so I didn't mind too much. Lower Purgatory has some car noise from Wonder World/ RR12 so I much preferred upper. I have seen a coral snake very near the trail. We startled each other so watch your feet, expecially in the summer. Upper Purgatory is rather rocky and technical. The Paraiso portion on this suggested route in upper Purgatory is closed in the spring.

8 months ago

best hike yet!!

8 months ago

I went to this trail in late March and it was a tad muddy so boots are important. Also ran into a hive of bees that we're swarming, perfectly natural for them to do, but also had to turn back and take a cut over on Ovid trail. Please avoid the bees for personal safety, and also to cause as little stress as possible to the hives, as they are in decline.

Trail is a decent length. Especially for the area.

9 months ago

Nice trail, not long, but enjoyable for what it is.

trail running
10 months ago

Trail markers are bit confusing. Still great trail to run!

11 months ago

Great trail!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Great for your local walk, not worth driving to just to go hiking.

trail running
Saturday, November 25, 2017

The terrain is a nice mixture with enough smooth surface for running. Great opportunity to make it as long or short of a adventure as you want.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

needs a little more upkeep. areas are very rough, pointy sharp rocks sticking out of ground where path is. very beautiful.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Half of the trails are closed this time of year. But this wasn't posted until we got there. The trails that are open are nothing but rocks. Watch your feet.

mountain biking
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The trail is pretty good overall (I loved it) it's a great trail it's on the NW side of the trail when it gets very challenging.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Wish there was water Carrier there. Other than that perfect place to spend all day

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Great park for a nice quick getaway and picnic. Had a run in with several deer and one snake. Man made structures and traffic noise are abundant at the start of the trail at the lower entrance but once you get up, over, and down into the bowl area it's not so bad. Didn't make it to the northern part of the park but will certainly be back to explore.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Great trail.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

This complex has over 9 miles of trails. The entrance trail at Hunter does pass drainage infrastructure but the rest is very natural.
There is wildlife and cactus. Most of the trail is fairly clear but there is enough up and down with rocks and roots to add interest. There are a few nice beauty spots.
The rating of moderate fits for about a third of the trail. The rest is easy.
Complaints of not pretty or not marked well enough are funny to me. Nine miles of semi arid area with cactus and mesquite over rocky hills will present some small challenges. That's why people do it. If you didn't see pretty, then you didn't hike far enough.
If you are posting complaints about navigational challenges here, then you are not fully utilizing the app.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Surprisingly good trail. Varied terrain. Some areas are not very clearly marked so it is easy to get turned around. Lots of trail work going on so I expect it to be better each time.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

nice trail, but can get a little repetitive as far as scenery goes. but overall it is a great trail to hike and love going with my dog!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Lots of beautiful butterflies floating around.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Put in at Prospect Park TH and hiked to Upper Purgatory and returned. Well marked and maintained trails.

Friday, July 08, 2016

No water. As stated, does not loop.

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