In this new feature, SMGA will ask local residents how they use the Natural Areas and what they find most enjoyable about them. This month’s interview is with Garrie Borden, who, with husband Ronnie, is an ardent outdoor enthusiast. The couple moved to San Marcos in 2012 and think the area’s best assets are the river and the trails.
Why do you value the natural areas?
The Japanese have a beautiful way of expressing what I feel when I’m out on the trails; “shinrin yoku,” or bathing in the forest atmosphere, describes connecting to nature through the senses to ease stress and worry, revitalize, and give a sense of comfort.
What is your favorite trail?
I love the Spring Lake Natural Area, not only for the trails, but for the wildlife habitat it provides. My favorite trails, however, that I turn to again and again, are Upper Purgatory, Ringtail Ridge, and Prospect Trails. Upper Purgatory has a trailhead close to town with ample parking and a restroom. The trails here offer many options for solo hiking, cycling, dog walking, group walks, and even handicap access on the wide, well-maintained Styx trail. The single-track Dante and Paraiso Trails wind up and down through shady trees for a true getaway feeling.
What recommendations would you give new users of the trail?
One way to hike an approximately 2-mile loop is to leave the parking lot on the wide Styx Trail and hike about a mile to the loop around Grandma’s Oak. Styx is a wide, sunny trail perfect for strollers, small groups and even wheelchairs. After circling Grandma’s Oak (the trail is still wide and level), head back on the main trail to the parking lot. OR, just after the loop rejoins the main trail, look for the Dante Trail sign on the left (West) to return a different way. Enjoy the cool shade of a single-track trail that gives a real sense of miles from nowhere. Look for the Rhino Tree that is marked for your convenience in case you happen to miss the huge branch that forms a well-defined rhinoceros head. It’s actually easier to see when you turn around at the sign. Dante will run into Styx Trail just before the parking lot.
If you take Dante to the East of the main trail, it will eventually lead to Lower Purgatory with a parking lot off Hunter Road, a more-strenuous one-way hike. OR you may take the right fork off this portion of the Dante Trail to Paraiso Trail that will lead you on a wide circle back to Grandma’s Oak. This route is about 5 miles total to and from the Upper Purgatory parking lot.
For a great resource, access the online interactive maps on the SMGreenbelt.org.
What do you most enjoy doing when you visit the Greenbelt?
I enjoy hiking with my husband, Ronnie, who has volunteered for years maintaining trails with the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance. We often take our two dogs, Early and Maggie. We enjoy the exercise, and photographic opportunities, but mostly we relish the relaxation that nature provides. Once a week, I get together with my women friends, and we either walk around the San Marcos River or walk the nearby trails. I feel very fortunate to have so many beautiful, well-maintained San Marcos trails to relish with Ronnie, my friends, the dogs, or even all by myself for some quiet time.