This weekend I visited another central Texas state park. After a quick brunch with some cousins at Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls I made the short drive to Longhorn Cavern State Park. I’ve made one short trip to this park previously back in March (more posts to come soon on this 5-parks-in-one-day trip). We didn’t have enough time to go on the cave tour on that visit. This time I did and I’m glad I made the return trip.
The cave is quite the hidden jewel with, as the tour guide said, “just as wonderful of a human history as its natural history.”
The entrance to the cave along with a good portion of the cave was constructed and cleared out by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Both the entrance and the cave look much the same today as they did in the 1930s. Working at $1/day for 8 years the CCC cleared out the soft debris in the cave and the result was a beautiful cavern that people still enjoy today.
The tour is $14 for adults. They do offer several different tours including the “Wild Tour” where customers get down and dirty with the bowels of the cave. Call ahead for the Wild Tour.
Pedernales Falls State Park is one of my favorite parks. I’ve visiting many times and could write for hours about the Wolf Mountain Trail and about the falls themselves. This visit only included a short hike around the falls where we spent an hour exploring the boulders that are normally hidden by water during the wet seasons. We stopped by the headquarters and got our lapel pins, maps, and well-wishes from the park rangers. From the headquarters we headed down the winding, hilly road to the falls. You can park at the end of the road at the large parking lot/restroom area. From there we headed down the gravel-paved path to the falls. This is about a quarter of a mile path that is really easy to make for most people. From there you can take pictures from the multiple overlooks. If you’re feeling more adventurous take either path down to the falls from the main overlook. We took the path (left from looking out over the falls) and continued across the falls. It was relatively dry when we were there so we were able to walk straight across the falls without having to get wet at all. If you have the time (and there’s no chance of rain) head further North and explore some of the beautiful rockscapes formed by the river. There’s a great formation of rocks which is pretty difficult for me to describe so I’ll let the picture below do the talking.
There’s a “floating” boulder inside of the “eye” in that formation. The light in that picture wasn’t great.
We had another state park to visit that day so we headed back to the car after getting some pictures of that formation.
We started at the Park Headquarters which is just off of McKinney Falls Pkwy. We picked up our lapel pin and headed to the trail. We decided to do the Homestead Trail. It was not marked well at all and instead of a 3 mile quick hike we ended up walking over 7 miles. It was good exercise, but overall a disappointing way to spend out time at the park. The trail forked a lot with no marker to tell you which way is the trail and which is a maintenance drive or private property entrance. We seemed to always choose the wrong path at the forks. The falls were ok and I’m sure they will be prettier in the Spring (we visiting January 26, 2013). Watch out for the iron rebar sticking out of the rocks at the falls. They stick out of the slippery rocks by the falls/trail. While an oasis in the city, it’s not exactly the best park the state has to offer.
At some point all of us ask ourselves, “What do you want to do before you die?”
When asked this question recently I answered without pause.
“I want to visit all of the State Parks of Texas.”
At first, it seemed like a daunting, out-of-reach goal. Well, my friends and I are 8 parks into this epic adventure and I can’t wait to see the remaining 85 parks. I am going to keep track of our trips on my blog. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me.
A must-have for anyone attempting this amazing bucket list item is a Texas State Parks Pass. It’s a ridiculously cheap annual pass and will save your group a lot of money.