Spring Lake consists of 251 acres of undeveloped parkland that sits just above the headwaters of the San Marcos River. About half of the property is in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge zone, and all of the property is part of the Sink Creek watershed. San Marcos Springs and Spring Lake are rare ecological jewels among Texas water resources and support five endangered species. The area supported ranching and hunting for many years, but has recently been left largely undisturbed with the exception of some natural-surface trails. Spring Lake Natural Area contains the typical meadows and woodlands found in the Edwards Plateau, with a wide variety of flora and fauna, including Mexican buckeye and large mammals. The geology includes layers of the Eagle-Ford, Georgetown, Del Rio clay and Edwards limestone.
Spring Lake Natural Area is one of the prettiest natural areas with majestic live oaks draped in Spanish moss, flowering Mountain Laurel (two weeks in March), flowering Kidneywood (April) and many other butterfly attractors. The meadow along Blue Stem in the Spring has an assortment of wildflowers and its namesake, Blue Stem grasses, a Texas native. More than six miles of trails traverse the 251 acres with elevation changes from the hillside down to the meadow.
The area around San Marcos Springs is thought to be one of the longest continuously occupied areas in North America due to its proximity to the San Marcos Springs. In 1926, A.B. Rogers purchased land around the springs and built the Aquarena Springs Resort. Aquarena was sold to Texas State University in the 1990s, and the 251 acres were later sold for residential development. In 2004, the developer and the City of San Marcos were preparing to create a large hotel and conference center on the highest location above the springs. Citizens and conservationists objected, the development was moved east of IH-35, and the City, Hays County and Texas State University committed to securing the property as a natural area. In November 2005, SMGA led a campaign for approval of a $2 million bond as payment toward purchase of the 251 acres. Subsequent grants and donations from Hays County, Texas Parks & Wildlife, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Meadows Foundation, Terry Gilmore, the McCoy Foundation, the Lower Colorado River Authority, and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority allowed the city to purchase the land in 2007.
Certain hillside trails are closed March through May for Golden Cheek Warbler nesting season as posted at the trail heads and on signs within the natural areas. Please respect this restriction as we acquired the property with this stipulation. More than half the property is open year-round.