Johnson City, TX
|Entrance to the park with Texas Bluebonnets in full bloom.|
But, these falls were more like...lazy, trickling cascades that daintily slow danced from one pool to another. So maybe it didn't quite match up to the scene that played out in my mind, but what lay before my eyes certainly did not disappoint.
Pedernales Falls State Park is located along...you guessed it...the Pedernales River on 5,211 acres in Blanco County east of Johnson City (somewhere between Austin and Fredricksburg to give you a better idea). And even though the falls may be the main attraction, this park offers numerous opportunities for recreation and relaxation. Check 'em out!
|Pedernales Falls in the fall (on a previous trip)|
Hiking Pedernales Falls offers such a unique twist on "hiking". There's a whole lot of climbing, heaving, scootering and jumping, along with some traditional hiking and it's all fabulous. Our hike began at an overlook, high above the falls.
My mom and I overlooking Pedernales Falls.
We then followed a rustic, stone stairway down to the falls. The real fun began here because there is no actual designated path for hiking and no signs demanding that you stay on the path at all times. The adventure is in making it up as you go; finding a destination in the distance and then manuevering yourself over and around pools of water and rock formations to get there.
Blazing a new trail!
My stepdad and the kids exploring.
My sweethearts taking a break and enjoying the view.
Although it appears that these pools of water would be perfect for swimming and beating the Texas heat, unfortunately it is not allowed. What is fortunate is that down the river a perfect section of river awaits for jumping in and cooling off. Since we hit a cool spell during our trip in April we didn't get to dip our toes in the water, but we certainly hiked on down to took a look.
It's definitely a small trek getting to the designated swimming area.
Following the trail to the river.
Swimming section of the Pedernales River.
It's a beautiful view! And it's also a great area for toddlers to wade in or grown-ups to park a lounge chair and veg for as long as needed. Down the river the water becomes a little deeper for actual swimming. Although the kids were a little disappointed it wasn't warm enough to take a dip, we still enjoyed skipping stones, balancing on rocks across the river, and spotting fish swimming by.
A few other highlights of our trip:
-an easy, shaded hike to the Twin Falls overlook. The falls weren't much to speak of, but the hike was wonderful.
-spacious, shaded, close-to-the-restrooms-with-plenty-of-hot-water-in-the-shower, camping site
-Junior Explorer Pack we received upon request for the duration of our visit. It included such items as: binoculars, compass, several wildlife guides, drawing pad, journal, and crayons.
-bird blind. There's been a hidden bird-watcher in me all these years and I had no idea. My 8 year old loved it too; my 5 year old...not so much.
-only a 30-minute drive to Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve
-picture-taking and climbing over the roots of these beautiful Bald Cypress trees
Just one of many Bald Cypress trees lining the river.
Pedernales Falls has absolutely found a spot on our "will return to" list. Considering we were unable to fully experience the river, we know that a return trip during warming weather is a must in the future. Any place that offers so many opportunities to explore, hike, and educate, is somewhere I want to be and Pedernales Falls State Park is definitely one of those places.