Garner State Park: Mountains, Rivers, and Great Views

A family hike at Garner State Park

As we walk up the paved path, K-girl complains that she doesn’t want to go for a hike. Personally, I’m feeling like this isn’t hiking… it’s a paved road for walking on.

Hiking with kids at Garner State Park, Texas, Photo of girl in piggie tails hiking on a trail. Photo by Mariana Abeid-McDougall on


But as quickly as this thought enters my mind, it dissolves into thin air, because to my right, a sign invites us to a hike by the river. And the entrance to the trail has everything I’ve been missing about hiking for the last 10 or so years.


Trail at Garner State Park


This is real, rugged hiking: uneven surfaces, rocks, and scenery that invites you to stop and notice the beauty of the world around you—while reminding you that nature is a powerful force, and you must learn how to be safe around it.


Man walking on a trail at Garner State Park


The little ones are enjoying the adventure, but K-girl makes it known that she thinks it’s “dangerous” and she can’t wait to get back to the RV. But while she’s not enjoying the adventure as much as the little ones and the adults, she can still appreciate the views the adventure affords.


View from Garner State Park Trail; the Frio River is visible. Photo by Mariana Abeid-McDougall on


Father and three children hiking at Garner State Park. Photo by Mariana Abeid-McDougall on


View from Garner State Park hiking trail; Photo by Mariana Abeid-McDougall on


After going on a wonderful hike and enjoying gorgeous views, we head back to the RV for the evening—I’ll go for a hike by myself the next day.


Three siblings at Garner State Park. Photo by Mariana Abeid-McDougall on

A solo hike at Garner Stat Park

My breathing is fast, and I can feel my heart pounding. I forgot my knee braces and I wore gym shoes instead of hiking shoes, but at this point, it doesn’t  matter. Because I’m almost all the way a up the mountain, and the view takes my breath away.


View from Bridges Trail at Garner State Park, Texas. The Frio River, a farm, and some mountains are visible. Photo by Mariana Abeid-McDougall


As I continue the climb, I hear some rustling in the trees to my left. I look, and I have just enough time to see the deer’s tail before it bounds off, away from the intruder. As much as I would like to have seen the deer up close, it’s nice to see wild life that’s still wild; animals who act the way they were meant to act when they come face-to-face with a strange creature who could potentially be a predator. After the deer leaves, it’s just me and some insects on the trail. I’ve got it all to myself, and it’s a beautiful spot.

The Bridges Trail hike is steep, but short. I don’t go all the way up the mountain: the last bit of the hike is quite slick rock face, and the voice of reason tells me I’m wearing gym shoes and don’t have my braces on. I’d love to climb all the way up, but this one time, I play it safe. No matter, though. The part to which I climbed still gave me amazing rewards:


View from Bridges Trail, Garner State Park. A mountain and the Frio River can be seen. Photo by Mariana Abeid-McDougall on


The views are beautiful, but they don’t come without a  cost. Hiking up a mountain is sometimes painful for me, and not only because hiking up a mountain is physically challenging for most people. I already deal with constant pain on a daily basis. But the peace I feel when I look at these kinds of views, and the wonder the forest can provide are worth it, even if the pain is often exacerbated by the climb.


Mariana at Bridges Trail, Garner State Park.


I decided a long time ago that when you live with chronic pain, you have two choices: sit and mope about it, or live. I choose the latter. Yes, there are days when I have to give in to the pain and accept that sometimes, staying still is the best option. But these days are few and far between, and as long as my joints (and their braces) will let me, I’ll keep hiking, climbing up mountains, and going on adventures. Because life is too short to sit and mope. There’s a whole world waiting out there to be explored, and I can’t wait to see it.


Mariana wearing a cowboy hat and holding a wooden walking stick at Bridges trail, Garner State Park, Texas


Trees at Bridges Trail, Garner State Park, Texas. Photo by Mariana Abeid-McDougall,


Steps at Bridges Trail, Garner State Park, Texas


Garner State Park was absolutely beautiful, and the more I stay in Texas, the more I fall in love with the beautiful and diverse scenery this state has to offer. I already have a new adventure in mind: One day, I’ll come back to Texas for a number of months, and I’ll visit all 51 of their State Parks. Texas State Parks celebrates their 100th anniversary in 2023. Time to start planning?

What’s your favourite state or provincial park?

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