Pedernales Falls - Wolf Mountain Trail

8.25 Miles
650 Feet
Johnston City
More Info

A good portion of the Wolf Mountain Trail is an old jeep trail.
A good portion of the Wolf Mountain Trail is an old jeep trail.
Getting there: From Austin head west on Highway 290. After near 30 miles turn north on RM 3232. Continue north until 3232 dead ends into a T-section in the road. The entrance to Pedernales Falls State Park is to the right off of FM 2766. Upon entering the park continue driving approximately 3 miles to the turn into the parking area for primitive camping that also refers to the Wolf Mountain Trail. We recommend getting there early on nice days as the parking area can fill up quickly.

The Hike: The Wolf Mountain Trail is one of the Hillcountry classics. The hike provides a wide variety of sites and experiences that includes scrub land, dense Cedar woodlands, valley vistas, springs and history all in one.

There are several creek crossings on the hike, but none of them will provide much of an obstacle.
There are several creek crossings on the hike, but none of them will provide much of an obstacle.
The trail starts at the waypoint "Trailhead" initially heading south, but soon meandering as it hugs the contour of the hills. The trail surface at the beginning is a rocky jeep trail, but not too rough. At the waypoint "Creek Cross" the trail crosses it's first body of water. Like the others, this one will not provide much of an obstacle except on days immediately after a heavy rain.

As the trail approaches the waypoint "Bee Creek" look to the left for views of the small, but steep canyon walls that line the creek. There are a couple of spurs along the trail that head to the canyon edge for a better view.

Jones Spring is near the halfway point of the hike and is a pleasant place to take a rest.
Jones Spring is near the halfway point of the hike and is a pleasant place to take a rest.
Upon reaching the waypoint "Mescal Creek" be careful to avoid the the trails headed into the primitive camping area if you are intent on continuing the hike. A large sign marks the start of the camping area just beyond Mescal Creek. A short distance away the trail splits. Take the right fork to stay on the trail and a while later take the left fork at the "Y-Left" waypoint. This marks the spot at which we'll complete the outlying loop.

As the trail continues to head east you might see campers to the left. The area is popular with individuals and scouting groups as I saw several on the trail and in the camp area. Some folks seem better prepared for primitive camping that others. One group of folks I encountered on the trail were making a racket of noise by pulling a wheeled ice chest behind them to go along with the rest of their camping supplies. Had the idea been feasible I imagine they would have lugged an air conditioner along with them! Primitive restroom facilities are available at the end of the camping area at the waypoint "Restroom".

Pedernales Falls used to be home for ranchers and farmers.  Stone walls and the ruins of house can be seen from the trail.
Pedernales Falls used to be home for ranchers and farmers. Stone walls and the ruins of house can be seen from the trail.
One of the highlights of the hike and a perfect place for a rest is at the waypoint "Jones Spring". Here a small spring feeds a constant ripple of water down a small canyon lined with fern. The sound of trickling water and the wind through the trees is soothing and there are ample rock surfaces on which to recline. Please be careful to avoid trampling on the vegetation around the spring as it is quite delicate.

After a rest and a snack next to Jones Spring I headed back onto the trail and soon found the ruins of a settler's house. Folks who have found artifacts on the ground have placed them on the remains of the house's walls. Although none of them are likely to be archaeologically important or for that matter very old, the rusty and weathered pieces echo some of the activities that took place here in the past. No artifacts should ever be removed from a state park.

The trail heads southwest. As it does so it ascends a creek valley's slope. The foliage cover becomes thicker and provides a welcome relief from the Sun. Eventually the trail once again follows the contours of the hills, thus saving the hiker from too much climbing and descending. Had the layout of the hike consisted of more straight lines the difficulty rating of this outing would have been much higher.

On the back end of the trail the path is less crowded, slightly more narrower and a bit more shady.
On the back end of the trail the path is less crowded, slightly more narrower and a bit more shady.
At the waypoint "Y-Right" the trail runs into a jeep trail. Turn right at this point to head to Wolf Mountain. The trail to the left proceeds in almost a straight line to the county road near the edge of the park boundary.

The trail system completely encircles Wolf Mountain and I intended to sample both sides of the mountain. At the waypoint "T-Right" I choose the Pedernales River side as the first half and consequentially the side that would be visited twice. It's definitely the better choice as some of the overlooks to the Pedernales River valley below are stunning. The waypoint "Overlook" marks a point in particular that held my attention for some time.

The trail around Wolf Mountain looks down upon the Pedernales River valley below.
The trail around Wolf Mountain looks down upon the Pedernales River valley below.
The "Y-Left" waypoint provides an option for the hiker who is ready to cut the day short. By proceeding to the left one is rewarded with views of the wooded valleys and canyons of Mescal Creek. The trail will loop around back to the "T-Right" waypoint that started the loop around Wolf Mountain and the hiker is presented with an option of doubling up the east or west trails around the peak. Wanting to see the Pedernales River again I choose the east side.

The second visit to the "Y-Left" waypoint is an indication to go right and start the journey back to the trailhead. The trail descends along a rocky and occasionally steep incline before joining up with the original trail near the primitive camping area. Turn left at that point and follow your footsteps back to the trailhead.

Wolf Mountain is one of the most popular long hikes in the Central Texas area. Like many hikes, the farther from the trailhead one goes the fewer people one encounters. However, this only works so much and at Wolf Mountain it was never enough to truly be alone with the exception of the creek valley beyond Jones Spring. Nevertheless, the four hours on the trail was time well spent.

As soon as we began the trail, I ventured off and found this cute little stream of water. (Photo by AshleyNicole)
(Photo by AshleyNicole)
(Photo by jmitchell)
(Photo by jmitchell)
(Photo by jmitchell)
(Photo by jmitchell)
(Photo by jmitchell)
View looking east on the Pedernales River, just north of the bluffs. (Photo by omgjoz)
This is near the beginning of the trail. Cross the river and start going up. (Photo by tjbustem)
Log Entries
The Less Travelled Trails Of Pedernales Falls
By Lone_Star on 2/13/2016
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 18.00 Miles Duration: N/A

This hike was completely over a 3 day period.  The first part was a 2.1 mile hike to the Primitive Camping Area where I set up my tent for the evening.  The second part was the bulk of the hike (~14 miles), which included much of the Wolf Mountain Trail, some of the South Loop Equestrian Trail, some of the Madrone Trail, and some of the Juniper Ridge Trail (see my track file for the route I took).  The third and last part was a 2.1 mile hike from the Primitive Camping Area back to my car.

I should note that I walked .6 miles at the begininng of Day 2 without having my GPS set correctly, which explains the straight line segment.  I turned my GPS on once I realized my mistake.

Ok, onto the trails.  Basically, it's a "tangled mess" of multi-use (hiking, equestrian and biking) trails.  It's a great place to get some miles in, but I found many of the trails to be inadequately marked and since there are a lot of informal trails running through the woods, it's often unclear which is the "real" trail.  As a result, I got off trail a few times and had to walk along some utility rows until I could get back on the trail.

At the time I did the hike, it was closed to horses so I didn't encounter any on the trail, but I did run into several mountain bikers.

The distance made this hike a little difficult, but it was made easier by a lot of the shade from the mesquite trees.

What did I miss?
By texaskdog on 7/12/2014
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 7.46 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 13 minutes

One of the most boring hikes I'd ever been on.  Jeep trails as a rule are usually pretty dull. there is little water in the creeks (and if there was you only cross 3 of them).  Unless you like being bored and likely dehydrated and tired STAY AWAY!!!!  Or try it on a mountain bike it may be decent for that.

Lots of gravel!
By KennyJ on 4/14/2010
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 55 minutes
I did this hike and had the trail to myself, except for a brief encounter with a roadrunner and a mountain biker. The views are very nice, but with most of the trail following an 8' or 10' gravel road, it was not exactly the experience I was hoping for. I love to hike under tree cover with the feeling of being a trailblazer, not the feeling of one following an abandoned dirt road. The gravel is loose in spots, and I had quite a good fall when going downhill. The wildflowers were in full bloom, and butterflies were everywhere. I plan to take my family back to the primitive camping area later this year. What the trail lacked in difficulty, it made up for in length and scenic views. I will return, but I think my favorite local hike is still Friedrich Park in San Antonio.
By dgray216 on 10/11/2009
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Hilly, Scenic, Peacefull
By tjbustem on 2/21/2009
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Rugged enough to keep the causal hiker away.  Saw wildlife and lots of wild flowers.  There's an old cemetery at the top of the trail that's very interesting.  If you don't look for it you will miss it.

By johnbivona on 2/1/2009
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.25 Miles Duration: 5 hours, 30 minutes

Most of this hike is on an improved trail, gravel road, used to access the primitive camp site.  The ruins at Jones Spring is a nice stopping point for lunch.  Check out the stone fence next to the ruins; hand built & most have taken forever!  After the ruins, the trail narrows and is a little more difficult to follow.

Nice hike on a beautiful day.
By BANDA on 1/31/2009
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 7.30 Miles Duration: 4 hours, 30 minutes

We enjoyed this hike today on a beautiful day. There are some really scenic ravines near the trail that can be seen if you take some of the small side trails. We have hiked this trail before, and have only seen other hikers in the past, but today a ranger in a pickup passed us going out as we were going in, then one passed us on foot  and another passed in another pickup going in as we were going out. Not sure what was going on but this seemed like a lot of ranger traffic and a lot of vehice traffic on the trail. Other than that it was pretty quite exept for several other groups of hikers and backpackers that we passed. There are some nice primitive camp sites in the area.

By swatmama67 on 11/7/2008
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 7.50 Miles Duration: 4 hours, 30 minutes

My husband and I took the Wolf Mountain Trail on a Friday morning.  We only saw one other couple until we were leaving, when we met a youth group hiking in with camping gear.  I was somewhat disappointed with this trail.  As someone else mentioned, most of the trail is actually like a road.  Turns out walking on crushed gravel is harder on the feet and legs than we thought.  Ouch.  

We took the jaunt up to Jones Spring which was interesting- it was neat to see the ruins of the structure, but we wished there had been a marker with some kind of info.  We stopped on Wolf Mountain for lunch.  It was extremely quiet.

It had not rained in quite some time so all of the creeks and even the spring were mostly dry.

We did see a small snake trying to eat a much larger frog- that made a terribly disturbing sound.  And, off the trail but still noteworthy- we saw another snake sunbathing on the rocks where you can walk out onto the rocks in the river.

I think we will try this train again in the spring after there has been some rain.

By nurse4rocks on 8/16/2008
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 10.30 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 23 minutes
By Weilo on 7/7/2008
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 4.50 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes

We went up with the Boy Scouts and took the  younger ones on the 4 mile loop and ended up coverin about 4.5 miles. Had a good time.

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