Padre Island National Seashore | HIKING TRAILS

Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

GRASSLANDS NATURE TRAIL

Length: .8-mile loop
Time:  20 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy

Padre Island, without a tree in sight, is mainly comprised of sand dunes covered in grass. While there are some wetland areas as well, grasslands dominate the island. The grasslands are beautiful, but other than looking at them from the park road or the beach, there is no way to venture into them other than by walking directly through the tall grass. With rattlesnakes, coyotes, gopher holes, and insects living in this ecosystem, that’s the last thing you want to do. Luckily, the National Park Service has created the Grasslands Nature Trail, a paved path through the grasslands that allows you to take in the beauty without potentially getting killed. This is the only trail within Padre Island National Seashore.

Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

The Grasslands Nature Trail is located just past the entrance into the park. There is not a shade tree is sight, so you will be exposed to the sun the entire time. Be sure to wear a hat and apply sunscreen if avoiding the sun is important to you. I was also very worried about being swarmed by mosquitoes and other insects because they live in the vegetation, but when I did the hike in late October—still very warm—I encountered a few, but not enough to be a real problem. However, an information panel inside the small shelter at the start of the trail suggests that you carry insect repellent with you.

Information shelter at the start of the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Information shelter at the start of the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

The Grasslands Nature Trail is a loop, and the loop begins right from the start. I proceeded straight, hiking around in a clockwise direction. The trail is perfectly flat and is suitable for those in wheelchairs, and there are benches along the way if you want to take a break. It is a typical nature trail, with numbered posts along the way that correspond to information on a printed trail brochure. I did not have one, so my walk around the trail was simply to view the scenery. Most likely the brochure is available at the Malaquite Visitor Center. There was a box in the shelter at the start of the trail, but I’m not sure if that was a brochure holder or a trash receptacle—it was filled with trash when I visited. Anyway, the numbers do increase as you walk in the clockwise direction, so if you happen to have a brochure, this is the way the trail is meant to be hiked.

Numbered post along the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Numbered post along the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Bench along the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Bench along the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

The information panel points out some of the animals that you might see in the Padre Island grasslands. These include gophers, squirrels, lizards, and snakes, including rattlesnakes. Since the trail is paved, you don’t really have to worry about stepping on a rattlesnake unless one is on the path and you simply aren’t looking where you are going. While I didn’t see or hear any rattlesnakes, I did see the remains of some sort of snake. I have no idea what might have eaten it, though I did see a coyote.

Remains of a dead snake on the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Remains of a dead snake on the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

I hiked the trail on an amazing day in the late afternoon when the sky was a beautiful blue and full of white clouds. I simply couldn’t stop taking photos. This was one of the most beautiful trails I have been on. It was so perfect that I felt like I was on some fantasy movie set.

Flowers blooming along the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Flowers blooming along the Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore

OTHER HIKES AT PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE

Though not a trail, if you can make it 15 miles down South Beach, there is a 1.5-mile sand and gravel road that leads over to the Laguna Madre. This is Yarborough Pass, and you’ll need a 4-Wheel Drive vehicle to drive on it—you may even need a 4WD to get 15 miles down the beach. If you can make it to the start of Yarborough Pass but don’t have a 4WD, this is a nice walk that leads to more fantastic scenery, both wetlands and grasslands, not to mention the Laguna Madre itself. In the photo below, notice the coyote in the very center.

Wetlands and grasslands at Yarbrough Pass, Padre Island National Seashore

Wetlands and grasslands at Yarbrough Pass, Padre Island National Seashore

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Last updated on February 28, 2022
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