San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance •  107 E. Hopkins St. Suite 121A; San Marcos, Texas 78666

The Loop


Exploring Trails: Taking a Hike Online

From the website’s landing page, you can select a natural area to “tour” or simply to find a map.

We visited San Marcos Parks Explorer online, a GIS-based story map that allows our community to visit all 7 natural areas virtually and helps users transport to each place and discover the natural beauty there.  According to, a Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system that analyzes and displays geographically referenced information. It uses data that is attached to a unique location.

This year, we successfully visited all the natural areas in San Marcos and were excited to view this website to review their features. In using this site, you can select a park and learn more about the location, view photos, and tour the area. The website provides the address, hours of operation, a descriptive summary of the park, and a map legend. The website is user-friendly for all, and the navigation and icons are well-considered. Our children were able to identify features, play with the map, and review the various stops on their own.

Lower Purgatory map with points of interest

This website is helpful in choosing an area that fits your family’s needs and helps you prepare for your day if you plan on hiking, birding, biking, and enjoying the trails. The interactive map provides featured tour points, and you can pan and zoom to explore the surrounding landscape in street map format or as they appear on Google Earth. This website helps the user discover the uniqueness of each natural area as it shares points of interest.

As a family, we were able to look at this website and connect back to the special places we previously visited, read the educational information, and link to areas of interest we missed during our initial hikes. Viewing each area online provided us with education and new areas to explore. This website sparked conversations with our children on the importance of protecting natural areas, as well as on conservation challenges and opportunities for more green space.

This was a wonderful joint project of the City’s Marketing and Outreach team within the Parks and Recreation Department and SMGA intern Lauren Thompson. What a great way to engage your family and the local community and to incorporate data and technology to protect our natural spaces!

Written by regular contributor and SMGA member Christina Casas-Moreno.

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