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Pedernales Falls - Falls Trail

Trail (3.90)26
(2.46) (2.29)
0.75 Mile 150 Feet
N/A No
Yes No
$4.00 More Info
Johnston City Blanco
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Looking down on Pedernales Falls. The true extent of the falls cannot be captured in one picture.
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. The road into the park passes the ranger station about half way through the park. After paying the entrance fee continue on the main road to the north to the circle that marks the end of the road and trailhead parking area.

The Hike: The Falls Trail in Pedernales Falls State Park is by far the most crowded in the park. The short trail leads to the waterfall that gives the park its name. Being one of the largest falls in central Texas, this natural wonder draws a large number of visitors.

A view of the Pedernales River flooding. This area of the country experiences catastrophic flooding and the river is extremely dangerous at these levels. Note the difference between this shot and the wide angle shot earlier. (Photo by geoiii)
The trail begins at the waypoint "Trailhead". Here there is parking, restrooms and a soda vending machine. On particularly nice days this parking area will fill up and people start parking along the road further to the south.

The path I took followed branches of the trail that veered off to the right. Most people take the more direct path to the left. In making this choice the first half of the walk is a bit less crowded, though by no means tranquil. When the trail gets near the Pedernales River at the waypoint "Overlook" the reason for this path becomes obvious. A bluff overlooks the falls upstream and provides a something like a bird's eye view.

Though the falls descend over sloping rock layers the rapid descent of water is enough to produce the roar of falling water.
After leaving the overlook head to the north and soon the path will intersect with the main trail as it prepares to descend into the Pedernales River floodplain. Immediately before the descent there is another overlook. Stairs made of stone descend to the river bottom.

The falls are made up of a couple of different sections. Upstream the waters flows over slanted rock. Though the water flow is impressive and the falls create a great deal of noise, it is not a waterfall with a great deal of perfectly vertical drop. The scene is reminiscent of a table that's been tilted with its contents tumbling toward an edge.

Looking upstream to the sloping rock portion of the Pedernales Falls. Here the slant of the rock layers to the right show the geologic feature that forms the falls.
Downstream the falls snake through small, twisting slots cut through the rock. At times the slots, some with walls over 6 feet tall, join and diverge like a maze. Depending upon the amount of rainfall that the area has experienced lately the amount of water in the maze varies in spots from rushing water, stagnant pools or bone dry rock.

The far side of the river is private property, but feel free to follow the river's path both upstream and downstream to explore some more of falls. Note that for safety reasons swimming in the river at this point is not allowed. For a nice swim to cool off refer to the official park map and pick a swimming spot farther downstream.

The trip back to the parking area returns up the stone steps and then follows the main trail back to the southwest instead of heading south for the path that I used on the way out. The length of this hike can vary widely, depending upon how much exploring you do along the falls themselves. On this particular day I recorded three quarters of a mile.


Photos

Scramble The maze portion of the falls downstream from the slanted rock layers provides numerous climbing and crawling opportunities. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Pedernales Falls photo by J.Lavin (Photo by pixistixs) Go for a swim? The trail ends then your on your own to find your way through these... (Photo by msuda)
Photo 2 You might need climb this too! (Photo by msuda) Pedernales Falls Pedernales Falls during a drought so there wasn't much water flowing. (Photo by tjbustem) Entrance Sign This is the sign at the entrance of the park. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Trailhead The Falls Trail is actually a series of connected trails that take you down to different spots along the river. (Photo by Lone_Star) Wildflowers Wildflowers were in full bloom along the trail. (Photo by Lone_Star) Pedernales River This is a view of the scenic Pedernales River. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Another View Of Pedernales River This is another view of the river and the beautiful trees along its banks. (Photo by Lone_Star) Falls Not exactly Niagara Falls, but nice nonetheless. (Photo by Lone_Star) Water Cave Spotted this water cave. The other side of the river is private property. The people you see on the rocks above should not have been there. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Water Channels Running water has carved passages through the rock over time. (Photo by Lone_Star) spring? always wondered if this was a spring (Photo by jimmy peace) stone work just some of the pockets carved by nature (Photo by jimmy peace)

Log Entries

View Of The Falls
By Lone_Star on 2/14/2016
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 0.17 Mile Duration: 16 minutes

Just a short hike to the overlook to the falls.  I've been here several times before so I didn't hike down to the river this time.  Still as beautiful as ever.

Up through the falls
By Riff Raff on 11/11/2013
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 1.90 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 38 minutes
dry but nice
By jimmy peace on 9/29/2013
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: N/A
hadnt been since before the drought but still nice
Awesome Place!
By Lone_Star on 5/10/2013
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 9.90 Miles Duration: 4 hours, 36 minutes

I visited Pedernales Falls as a part of a group event and this state park served as our weekend base camp.  I was the first to arrive, so I decided to hike the trail down near the falls.  My intent was to cover all of the trails, but when I got down to the Pedernales River, I found it so scenic that my hike turned into a photography expedition.

I took an informal/unnamed trail along the river towards the falls and, when I arrived at the falls, walked all over the rocks where the water pools and rivers of water flow through curvy, carved out channels.

My solo hike (reflected by the .GPX file) represents only 3.9 miles of the 9.9 total miles.

When the others arrived in the evening, I told some people how impressed I was with the beauty of the falls, so several of them begged me around midnight to take them on a night hike down to the falls.  We walked from base camp down the main road to the falls, but it was so dark you couldn't really see the water from the observation points, but you could hear it.  We took one of the rocky trails down to the falls, but it was difficult to navigate in the dark with nothing but flashlights, so we decided to hike back.  On the way back, we took a wrong turn down the road that leads to the picnic area before we realized our mistake.  We didn't get back into base camp until 2:30am.  Our night hike represents the other 6 miles of the 9.9 total miles.

One other nice thing about this park is, at night, you can see fireflies flying around.  I haven't them for quite some time, so it was nice to see these bioluminescent insects again.

Very Nice Hike!
By Nocona on 5/18/2010
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.50 Miles Duration: N/A

Can be crowded on nice weekends and swimming is limited due to the dangerous nature of the falls.  But it's a lovely area and you can usually find your own spot to sit alone and admire the bluffs and pools.

By Daniel N on 4/11/2010
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.50 Miles Duration: N/A
Great fun outing
By Daniel N on 4/3/2010
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.80 Miles Duration: 5 hours

More of a walk than a hike. The falls are beautiful and a great place for a picnic or lazy afternoon.

By DBrown on 3/13/2010
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: N/A

started at the swimming parking area. Down the stairs and picked up an unmarked trail following the southern side of the river. The trail weaves between the flood bank and the immediate bank of the river with frequent ups and downs as well as a few tributary stream crossings. Trammel Crossing (while marked on the map) is less obvious than you'd expect. It looks like a single rapid spanning the width of the river and you have to wade across. the 4 mile loop that it leads to is nice but a little boring. No real elevation gains once you reach the top of the hill and the scenery stays pretty much the same thoughout. If you follow the unmarked trail on the southern side of the river past Trammel Crossing I recommend headin up Mescal Creek. It's a long series of small waterfalls and cascades and is a ton of fun to climb up and around in.

By ChemGal on 6/13/2009
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 1.00 Mile Duration: N/A
Rocky, Beautiful
By tjbustem on 2/21/2009
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 0.75 Mile Duration: 45 minutes

This trail takes you down to the falls which are very spectacular.  It's well used so expect others to be there.  There are some huge rocks in the falls area which are great for photos.


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