The Austin area boasts gorgeous parks where people can hike, camp, bike, swim and more. One of the most beautiful is Pedernales Falls State Park. Cascading waterfalls draw visitors throughout the year, as do the limestone rock formations, iridescent pools and the crystal-clear river.
Bryson residents often spend a day or a weekend there because it’s only an hour away. Want to explore? We’ve put together a guide to get you started.
Pack for a Picnic
Not everyone wants to hike or bike but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the park. There are many places to picnic near the rivers, pools and waterfalls. A large picnic area is located near the swimming area.
Traverse the Trails
Hiking trails range from a half-mile to nearly 10 miles. There are trails that are perfect for beginners and ones that should only be attempted by experienced hikers. Cyclists can travel some of the trails as well. Some of the most favored trails include:
- Pedernales Falls Trail: Perfect for all skill levels, the 0.6-mile trail features a beautiful waterfall.
- Twin Falls Nature Trail: An easy hike, this five-mile trail overlooks Twin Falls.
- Madrone Trail: Madrone trees dot this moderately difficult four-mile trail.
- 5-Mile Loop Trail: A more challenging trail that crosses the river, it is worth the effort as it takes you to an area of the park most visitors never see.
- Wolf Mountain Trail: A more difficult six-mile trail that wraps around Tobacco and Wolf mountains. Be sure to stop at Arrowhead Pool to admire where Bee Creek spills into stair-stepped pools.
- Juniper Ridge Trail: Ready to hike 10 miles? This trail is also suitable for mountain bikers.
Watch for Wildlife
Bird watchers and wildlife lovers love Pedernales. Look for white-tailed deer, coyotes, rabbits, armadillos, skunks, opossums and raccoons. More than 150 species of birds can be spied, including ravens, vultures, herons, quail, doves, owls, roadrunners and wild turkeys as well as the endemic rufous-crowned sparrow and western scrub jay.
Designated Swimming Areas
Swimming and wading in the main falls area are prohibited for safety reasons. However, there are still plenty of places to cool your heels. Designated swimming areas can be found on the trail map. Visitors are advised to read the park’s swimming safety tips before arriving.
Float Down the River
Experience the beauty of the park via tube, kayak or canoe. While you can’t put in near the Pedernales Falls area, you can launch your boat from Trammell’s Crossing Trail and the main swim area.
Spend the Weekend
Pedernales boasts 69 campsites complete with water, electricity, picnic tables, showers, nearby restrooms and more. There are six primitive campsites for hikers. There is also a sponsored youth area.
Equestrians rejoice! Ten miles of the park’s trails are horse-friendly. Be advised that the trail is very rocky and there are steep slopes. Beginner riders should not attempt them. Water troughs are provided at the trailer parking area and at the midway point of the trail. You must present current Coggins for your horse at the office.
Before You Visit
Pedernales Falls is open seven days a week year-round, except when wildlife management activities dictate closure of all or part of the park. Admission fees are $6 for ages 13 and older. Children 12 and under are free.
Reservations are highly recommended and can be done so online. This is particularly true for camping.
For disabled visitors the trails to the river are rough and not accessible. The headquarters restrooms, overlook trailhead parking area, picnic area and the showers in the campground are wheelchair accessible. Many of the drive-up campsites are laid out in such a way that wheelchairs can be used. Contact the park directly to check on the most wheelchair-friendly site; call the reservation center at 512-389-8900 to reserve an accessible site.