My husband and I decided to go to Palmetto State Park on our way home from New Braunfels to enjoy a nice hike. We began our hike at the beginning of the San Marcos River Trail. We were the only ones on the trail that day. At the beginning our hike, my husband noticed what looked like an extremely large foot print to the left of the trail. We didn't think much of it and kept on our journey. We came to a spot where you can walk down to the river and swim or fish. We both walked down the bank to the river to check out the spot. After taking a small break, we started back up the bank. I was in front of him when I heard him holler that somebody had just thrown a large rock at him. I thought he was trying to scare me, so I didn't pay much attention. When we got to the top of the bank to the trail, he told me that something had thrown a large baseball sized rock at him, which hit right behind him in the sand and rolled down the hill. He was visibly upset. We continued on our hike. While on the San Marcos River Trail, we continued to hear noises in the woods and breaking sticks, but contributed it to local wildlife. Then we heard a strange "howl". It was similar to that of a cow, but different. Now, I know there are cows in the area, which we heard and saw many times during the hike, but I know what a cow sounds like and my husband grew up around and currently works in the slaughter business, so he has heard every sound a cow can make. What we heard was NOT a cow. We heard this "howl" once while on the San Marcos River Trail and then again when we cut off onto the Mesquite Flats Trail. While on the Mesquite Flats Trail, we continued to be observant of our surroundings, but enjoy our relaxing hike. Somewhere on the trail not far past one bridge but before another, we both heard a loud crack and falling of a large limb out of a tree right by the end of the first bridge on the trail we had just crossed. We then heard running through the woods. It was not like a person running, but was also not like a deer. It was a loud "thump" sound when whatever it was hit the ground. My eyes immediately scanned the tree line and focused in on a tall black "something". I could clearly see the thing pass past and between trees. It was tall and black, but very fast. It was faster than a person. It was not a deer because I could see its silhouette. It was not long. It was not a hog because it was tall and not long like an animal. I was watching it pass through the trees when it just disappeared, like it had stopped or something. I was in shock by what I had just seen. My husband and I walked back to where the limb had hit the ground to see if we could see anything. Unfortunately we did not have any binoculars, but off in the distance where the thing disappeared from my sight it appeared to be some type of black thing either crouched or standing completely still beside a tree. We decided it was best that we make our way to the trail and head to the end, but we kept watch on the black thing we saw by the tree. The trees got thick and we could not see through for a moment, but when we got to another opening, we attempted to find the black thing by the tree we had just seen and it was no longer there. We continued our walk with ALOT to talk about. Once we crossed onto the Ottine Swamp Trail, we heard the "howl" again, but close and clearer than before. We completed our hike with no other incidents or noises. It was the strangest thing I have ever seen in my life.
Then we heard a strange "howl". It was similar to that of a cow, but different. Now, I know there are cows in the area, which we heard and saw many times during the hike, but I know what a cow sounds like and my husband grew up around and currently works in the slaughter business, so he has heard every sound a cow can make. What we heard was NOT a cow. We heard this "howl" once while on the San Marcos River Trail and then again when we cut off onto the Mesquite Flats Trail.
There seemed to be a lot of bent high grass where something had bedded down. There were also many large areas of strange stick and limb configurations. Like something had stacked sticks to make a shelter or to lay on the ground off of the dirt. Very Strange.
1:00 pm - Humid, muggy, hot, Around 1:00 rain showers off and on.
This investigation was conducted as a result of an incident that allegedly occurred in Gonzales County, Texas, within the confines of Palmetto State Park, 08 June 2014.
The witnesses, a husband and wife, are avid hikers and decided to stop at Palmetto State Park for a hike on their way home from a trip to New Braunfels. The pair live farther to the east and stopping for a hike was a welcome way to break up their trip and get some exercise.
The couple began their hike on the San Marcos River Trail and located what they believed to have been a very large footprint in the sandy soil just off the main trail. The track was located close to one of the spots where hikers can leave the trail and negotiate the steep riverbank to reach the San Marcos River, approximately 30 feet below. They did not think too much about the track at the time other than the husband commenting, “That was one big boy,” as the track, according to the couple, measured approximately 16” in length. The pair proceeded to negotiate the steep incline to the waters edge below the trail. After taking in the sites along the water and taking a short break, the pair began making their way back up the bank to the trail. The female witness walked ahead of her husband and reached the top first. The bank, slick from recent rains, was giving the husband some trouble as he tried to walk back up. He decided to attack the incline quickly in the hopes that his momentum would be enough to propel him to the top. Just as he picked up his pace, a large rock struck the ground behind him. The rock struck the spot where, in his estimation, he would have been standing had he not decided to pick up his pace just a few seconds before. Both hikers heard the thud of the rock impacting the hillside and then tumbling down the incline toward the water. The husband stated, “Somebody just threw a rock at me!” The wife initially believed that her husband was playing a joke on her until she saw how angry he was about the incident. Once the couple crested the hill, they took a good look around and below them in an effort to spot the rock thrower. They saw no one. A bit confused and perturbed, the couple continued their hike.
As they walked on, the pair heard various snaps and breaks, which led them to believe the local wildlife was very active that day. Shortly before reaching the point where the San Marcos River Trail meets the Mesquite Flats Trail, the couple heard a loud vocalization from just behind them and in the direction of the river. The couple described the noise as a howl of some kind. They described the sound as similar to that of a cow bellowing but different and deeper. It should be noted that the male witness is a USDA meat inspector by trade and has worked in a slaughterhouse for years. He is quite sure he knows every sound a cow is capable of making and insists what he and his wife heard that day was not a cow. The couple was a bit unnerved and the thought occurred to them that they were being followed or stalked by the unseen rock thrower. Deciding this kind of thinking was silly, the pair decided to continue on the outer loop of the trail instead of taking a shorter route back to the parking area.
Shortly after entering the Mesquite Flats Trail, the pair heard another loud vocalization from behind them that was identical to the first howl a few minutes earlier. The pair, getting more uneasy by the minute, picked up their pace significantly. They hiked roughly ¾ of a mile without incident, the female walking about 15-20 feet in front of her husband. About ¼ of a mile from the point where the Mesquite Flats Trail transitions to the Ottine Swamp Trail, the couple crossed a long boardwalk-style bridge. The male witness was no more than 30 feet beyond the bridge, his wife ahead of him, when the couple heard a loud snap behind them. They wheeled around quickly to see what had caused the loud snap. The male witness's attention was focused on a tree limb that had appeared in the middle of the trail. It had not been there moments before. The limb was a bit curved, almost bow-like, in shape and was still rocking or wavering as it rested on the trail. As he stared at the stick, he caught a glimpse of something black to his left moving quickly away from the trail. The female witness was not distracted by the stick in the trail and caught site of a large, black figure running at breakneck speed from her right to left away from the trail. She got a good, if brief, look at the figure. She described it as jet black and “ungodly fast.” She was positive that what she saw was upright and bipedal. While mainly taken aback by the speed of the figure, she also noted that it was very large. The female witness described the figure as “massive.” The only sound the pair reported hearing was four heavy “thumps” as the figure ran away from them.
The couple made their way closer to each other and stared out in the direction in which the figure had fled. As they looked, they both saw it, partially obscured by a tree but peeking around it and seemingly looking back at them. The figure was now roughly 40 yards from the amazed couple as they stood on the trail. The couple decided to get going and began their hike onto the Ottine Swamp Trail, all the while trying to keep an eye on the large black figure that appeared to be observing them. The trail took a bend back to the right shortly thereafter and some vegetation blocked their view of the figure for a few moments. When the couple got a bit farther up the trail and again had a window through which they could see the tree the figure had been behind, it was no longer there. Neither witness heard it move away.
Now thoroughly unnerved, the couple hiked quickly down the Ottine Swamp Trail and back toward Park Road 11 and the parking area. Roughly ½ mile from the end of the trail, the pair heard one last loud vocalization. It was the same loud bellowing/howl they had already heard twice previously. This time, however, the vocalization originated from a spot much closer to them and, much to their chagrin, ahead of them, between them and the perceived safety of the park. Cautiously, but quickly, the couple covered the final ½ mile and made their way back to their vehicle.
The witnesses immediately went to the park headquarters to report their experience. They were surprised to hear from the rangers that they get similar reports often. The witnesses claim the rangers told them the most common experiences are strange sounds/vocalizations and rock throwing. While at the park headquarters, the couple got a brief education on the history of the Ottine Swamp thing or Ottine Swamp monster. The creature is extremely well known locally and sightings go back decades. The park actually promotes the monster in their gift shop. A framed photograph, allegedly showing the creature, taken by a camper in 2011 hangs on the wall. A small bigfoot figurine adorns the mantle. Swamp monster t-shirts are for sale and a handout is available, free of charge, which briefly documents the history of the thing in the Ottine Swamp. A bit overwhelmed, the couple returned home and immediately set about doing some research on their own. It was during this research that they came across the NAWAC site and filed a sighting report.
I found both witnesses to be very credible. Their story did not vary from the initial written account. Each of the witnesses experienced moments while retracing their steps that day when they got very nervous and had to take a moment to regain their composure. At one such point, the male witness struggled to light a cigarette due to his hands shaking so badly. I detected no signs of deception and, to the contrary, came away feeling that the couple had encountered a form of wildlife for which they had no explanation.
The NAWAC continues to collect and investigate reports of encounters, both contemporary and historical, with strange, bipedal ape-like creatures in Texas and its neighboring states that fit the traditional description of the wood ape.
(Michael C. Mayes is an educator and host of the Texas Cryptid Hunter blogsite (www.texascryptidhunter.blogspot.com).
The Ottine Swamp, named for the small town just outside the park’s gates, is a primeval wonderland of towering trees, peaty bogs and warm springs.
The male witness, in the general area where a rock was thrown at him by an unseen assailant.
The sighting occurred just after the couple crossed this boardwalk-style bridge.
The area into which the figure fled after crossing the trail behind the witnesses.
The female witness, wearing orange and barely visible, standing next to the tree from which the figure peeked at the couple after fleeing across the trail.
Gonzales County, Texas is located in south-central Texas.