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Good For Kids
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The falls area was more of just a river channel than a waterfall in the traditional sense.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Closest available address
2585 Park Road 6026 Johnson City, TX 78636
Open daytime hours, overnight camping is also available.
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
Pedernales Falls State Park is a 5,211 acre park about 40 miles west of Austin. The park's namesake falls is not really a waterfall in the traditional sense but more of a rocky gorge that can get high water flows at times during the year. The park is most popular for wading and tubing in the river in nicer weather. The campground fills up in cooler months. Hiking is available year round, although the trails are not very challenging. While the park is not too far from Austin, it's in the Texas Hill Country and still has a rural character.
The park area was acquired by Texas in 1970. It had previously been used as a cattle ranch. The topography is characterized by low rolling hills. Vegetation tends to be a mix of scrub plants and cactuses; mesquite and oak trees are also common. The Pedernales River is 106 miles and generally flows west to east. Most of the year the river is placid and shallow, but during heavier rains it can flood with little notice. As such, swimming is not permitted around the falls area.
July was definitely not a good time of year for hiking as the temperature was over 100 degrees, and there was plenty of humidity too. Other visitors were here to enjoy the river. The water was warm but only a couple of feet deep in most places. As such, people were sitting or laying in the water rather than swimming. The most interesting attraction is the namesake Pedernales Falls, which is impressive when viewed from the overlook trail. The falls are also moderately interesting to walk around and check out the various rocks and shoreline. Fish could be spotted easily in the water. Another park area worth visiting was a bird observation building next to the park amphitheater. A short nature trail to the Twin Falls, was actually somewhat difficult due to a steep decent and overgrown trail conditions. A grotto area at the end of the trail was pretty, but the waterfall flow was a mere trickle. Trammell's Crossing Trail was briefly explored but would have required wading through the Pedernales River to get to the main trail to the west so was skipped. Wolf Mountain Trail was the final hike of the day. It was more of a fire road than a trail. While broad and in good shape, it was a featureless and dull road to nowhere. The heat was so oppressive that exploring the park became challenging. Several liters of water were necessary to stay hydrated, so if you visit in summer, plan accordingly. This park is really about river activities such as tubing and also about camping. Since neither were on the travel agenda, this review is of limited usefulness. If you are coming here to enjoy the river or for a camping excursion, then numbers suggest it's a good choice. If you have other recreational pursuits in mind, other parks and cooler times of year will provide a better overall experience.
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