Texas state parks aren’t just for summertime! We recently visited Pedernales Falls State Park (2585 Park Road 6026 78636) near Johnson City. While we didn’t go swimming, we found plenty to do! The park is open 7 days per week with admission $6 per person age 12 and up. Kids under age 12 get in for free. From the entrance, we had a lovely Hill Country view.
Our first stop was a short 1/4 mile trail to the Twin Falls overlook.
The trail was very scenic and had helpful markers along the way. We had a fright when we heard a rattlesnake’s rattle! We didn’t see the snake and we quickly proceeded down the path, away from where we heard the noise. Stay on the path at all times where you can clearly see what’s in front of you. We were certainly glad we did!
You can’t actually go down to Twin Falls; you view it from an overlook.
These steps take you to the overlook.
What a pretty view!
The fall foliage enhanced the scenery.
Now it was time to head back up.
Next we drove to the main attraction: Pedernales Falls. This section of the river has stunning views and a beach-like area. The path to the river is easy to follow.
We could see the river down below from an overlook area.
Just a few more steps and we’d be there!
The river washes over layers of limestone. According to the park’s web site, “These river limestones belong to the 300-million-year-old Marble Falls formation, and are part of the southwestern flank of the Llano uplift. These layers of limestone were tilted by the uplift, then eroded long before early Cretaceous seas 100 to 120 million years ago covered this part of Texas and deposited sands, gravels, younger limestones and marine fossils.”
We were amazed by the water cascading out of a spring and into the river.
My 11-year-old son found a cute little frog.
The Pedernales River was flowing beautifully. While the water might be enticing, there is no swimming in this section of the park.
This almost looks like a doorway, doesn’t it?
Once over the falls, the water is calmer.
The beach area was a magnet for the boys!
They were so excited about spotting this cool lizard, blending in with the sand.
We walked along the river bank and came across this beautiful scene.
Over 150 bird species have been spotted at Pedernales Falls State Park, including this blue heron!
We did a lot of exploring during our short visit to Pedernales Falls. The late fall season had darkness creeping up on us quickly. The only downside to an afternoon at Pedernales Falls is the climb back up the bluff. My 8-year-old son put it succinctly, “Everyone hates up.”
Austin Active Kids Opinion: A wonderful (and close-by) outdoor experience!
Outing Time: About a 1-hour drive from Austin in no traffic. We spent a little over two hours there but easily could have spent much more time.
Outing Distance: About 1 – 2 miles during whole visit.
Reminders: The full range of activities available at Pedernales Falls State Park includes picnicking, hiking, river swimming, tubing, wading, mountain biking, fishing, bird watching, and horseback riding. There are many trails to hike in Pedernales Falls State Park. Since we were visiting for a relatively short time, we weren’t able to explore the park fully. Always remember that you are in a natural environment and you might run across animals who call the park home.
When visiting Pedernales Falls State Park, it’s important to keep this reminder from Texas Parks & Wildlife in mind: “The Pedernales River running through the park can flash flood with little or no warning. The water in the river can rise from a placid stream to a raging torrent in a few minutes. If you are in the river area and notice the water beginning to rise, you should leave the river area immediately. Flash flooding is a common phenomenon in the Texas Hill Country, and park visitors are encouraged to be alert to weather conditions.”
The park offers a variety of educational opportunities. There is a calendar of upcoming events and you can contact the park for special tours. We didn’t check one out, but the park has Junior Ranger Explorer Packs available for free.
Please note that the park will be closed to the public the following upcoming dates for wildlife management activities:
Monday December 2 at 8 a.m. until Friday December 6 at 8 a.m.
Monday December 16 at 8 a.m. until Friday December 20 at 8 a.m.
Monday January 6 at 8 a.m. until Friday January 10, 2014, at 8 a.m.