Pedernales Falls State Park is a treasure, and one of our favorite hiking spots. While it’s a popular swimming destination in the warmer months, it’s just as beautiful in the wintertime when it’s too cold to swim.
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 because 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. In other words, remember to always 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, but you can view it from an overlook.
What a pretty view!
The Beach Area
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.
My boys can’t resist playing in sand, so the beach area was a magnet for them!
The river washes over layers of limestone. According to the park’s website “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. The water might be enticing, however there is no swimming in this section of the park.
Another popular section of this park is the swimming area which is clearly marked by signs (you have to drive over there). Once you make it down the stairs, you come to the water. There are many shallow sections perfect for wading in or skipping rocks. In addition, you can bring camping chairs, drinks, and food, and set up for a day in the water. Many people flock here to cool off in the summer. As a result, this section will most likely be crowded on a hot day, but you can still find a little spot to call your own.
Austin Active Kids Opinion
A wonderful (and close-by) outdoor experience, perfect any time of the year!
About a one-hour drive from Austin in no traffic. We spent about 3 hours there, however you could spend many more!
About one to two miles during the whole visit.
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. For instance, 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.
2585 Park Rd 6026, Johnson City
Wednesday – Sunday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.)
$6 per person age 13 and up. Kids 12 and under get in for free. Reservations strongly recommended to ensure entrance.