Let’s Get Outside to Palmetto State Park

by Jackie Thornton

Each week in our El Camino Real Master Naturalist’s newsletter we are encouraged to get outside and are given suggested activities. One week recently the activity was to visit a Texas State Park. On an absolutely gorgeous day (January 30) I did just that and visited a park that has been on my bucket list for a long time.

(The images are videos for some reason…hope to fix it soon).

The park was Palmetto State Park between Luling and Gonzales Texas, about a two hour drive from Rockdale.  The park did not disappoint.  I met a friend from Austin there and we took off on the trails, which are easy to walk.  Our first trail ran by the San Marcos River and all I could say is “I wish my iNaturalist guru was here”.  I was like a kid running here and there trying to look at everything and this is in January!  (My Girl Scout Leader daughter-in-law told me to go before the mosquitoes wake up.)  The second trail we walked was the Palmetto Trail and I was in love with this park.  We stopped for our picnic lunch on a bluff high above the San Marcos River with a a beautiful view!

I took off on my own to explore other parts of the park and met two gentlemen who were practicing for the Texas Water Safari in their canoe.  The event will begin June 11 this year at the headwaters of the San Marcos River and will end in Seadrift on the Texas coast, a distance of 260 miles.  Imagine in a canoe, in June, for 260 miles!

The park is a nature lover’s paradise.  The dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) is a visual delight along with the other plant life.  Looking at the website for Palmetto will give you its wonderful history and for birders, it is heaven!  Entrance fee is $3.00. without any discounts!  It was not crowded on the day we were there, but it is easy to imagine that it could become very busy.  I highly recommend a reservation and a trip there soon!

Visiting Cameron City Parks

by Catherine Johnson

Our Let’s Get Outside project took us to Cameron City Park, 12 Street Park, Cameron and Airport Park, and O. J. Thomas Park. 

At Cameron City Park we saw natives, mushrooms , and former swimming pool.

12 St. Park has beautiful trees and a nice pond. 

Cameron Park has a fun pool and Airport Park great baseball fields.

O. J.  Thomas Park has swings and basketball hoops.  All were very well maintained and offer quiet, pretty places for recreation, walking, picnics, or observing nature. 

Bitterweed photo by Nick Moore on iNaturalist. Used with permission.

I focused on three small yellow wildflowers in order to learn to distinguish them–Bitterweed, Camphor weed, and Straggler Daisy.  The leaves are very different.

Bitterweed, camphor weed, and straggler daisy (left to right)

You will be amazed at how much you will know in a few years if you learn in small steps. Attending these latest walks were Linda Jo, Donna, Scott, Debra, Jackie T. , Connie, Pamela and Ruby, Kim and Catherine (me).  Most fun–eating together at Dairy Queen and listening to Connie’s (who was mayor of Cameron for many years) tales of the city’s history.