Recently, my family explored Lower Purgatory Creek. This trail is a San Marcos favorite, so it was a bit challenging to find parking, even going so late in the afternoon. As beginner level hikers, we chose this hike for the variety of trails it has to offer and its central location. Being outdoors for us is a way to disconnect from technology to enjoy time together, exploring and recharging with mother nature. We read that this area had many deer, birds, and wildflowers to observe.
On the car ride over, we talked about what we thought we would see, hear, and smell during our visit. Our son, Nate (13), was set on seeing a mountain lion, and daughter, Nayeli (5), was hoping to see deer and smell flowers. We looked at the map and all decided to follow the Ripheus trail for its ease, discussing how we would later tackle Dante, Beatrice, and Ovid trails during our next visits.
As we set out on our adventure, we ran into many friendly mountain bikers, pets on leashes, and trail runners—but no mountain lions or deer. The single trail was rocky and a bit muddy, and Nayeli was the only one prepared with her rain boots. She enjoyed splashing in the small puddles and digging up the dirt with a walking stick she picked up along the way.
Excited to reach the Matilda Bridge, we spent time walking it back and forth and relaxing in the beautifully crafted seating area in the middle of the bridge. We shared how the name of the bridge came to be and how much time and effort from the community it took to construct.
Following the trail, we came to a rock wall Nate couldn’t help but climb up. The kids enjoyed looking at the wildflowers and searching for berries along the grassy meadows. We made our way back to the car earlier than expected because, as novice hikers, we failed to take into account the time change and earlier sunset. We highly recommend Ripheus trail and encourage families to wear hiking boots and bring mosquito spray!!
Written and photographed by SMGA member Christina Casas-Moreno.