On a recent visit I found myself in the unfortunate predicament of having driven an hour to find the “park full” sign. While this would usually make me happy because it means the park is popular I really had my heart set on a hike today. After a quick discussion with park staff I found myself on a new trail. While you aren’t anywhere near the river or the falls this does mean you aren’t anywhere near the crowds. I left the park, yes that’s right, and took a left from the park entrance. About a half mile down there is a parking lot and a trailhead. The Madrone Trailhead. This 2.5 mile trail provides an escape from the crowds while providing great natural features and birdwatching you may not get in the rest of the park. At the end of this trail you can either walk back up the road to the parking or continue on to another trail.
I continued on to the Juniper Ridge Trail (black dotted line above) and took the left turn back towards parking. Really great trail with slightly more challenging paths than the madrone trail, but nothing too challenging for most. I’ve hiked this trail three times now and I’ve only seen one other person. To say this trail is underutilized is fair. You don’t see a lot of evidence of litterers either. But if you do please do the park staff a favor and pick up the trash and pack it out.
About two miles into this trail you are faced with more options. You can head back to parking or continue on to more trails. All of the rest of the park is accessible from these trails and I can’t wait to get out and keep exploring.
PSA: please remember to check in even though you are parking “outside” the park. The state parks are allocated funding, at least in part, based on the number of annual visitors. Not only are you stealing the daily access fee but you’re hurting the annual funding of the park. Additionally, you should let the park staff know you are hiking on this remote trail. That way if you get hurt or lost they will know where to start looking.
This is one of my favorite parks. Not only is it close to my home base, but it offers so much as a park. Waterfalls, bird watching, wildlife, long challenging trails, and so much more. I’ve been to this park many times over the years and I’m still learning new trails and discovering new treasures every time I visit. Here’s some pics from my recent visit. It’s amazing how much two years of good rains has changed the river. Bouldering is still fun but it is a little more challenging to get to some features.
PSA: remember to stay on the park side of the river. The other side is private property and you can be arrested if caught trespassing. Also, there is no swimming above the falls. It is very difficult to see the rock formations just under the water and with just a little precipitation the water above the falls becomes violent in mere seconds.
This past Saturday I made it out to Pedernales Falls SP again. This time I brought the fishing gear with me and headed to the Pedernales Falls overlook area.
The spot I chose was just North of this spot though I won’t give away the exact spot. Where’s the fun in that?
Here’s the first giant I caught. No laughs. I was in it for the sport and not to find dinner.
And the biggest catch of the day…
It was a lot of fun until the families with untrained children showed up and thought it was a good idea to throws rocks into the water. I wish I had the camera out to get a shot of the fish throwing up the peace sign and disappearing never to be seen again.
By the way, “Harassment of Hunters, Trappers, or Anglers (Sportsmen’s Rights Act) is punishable by a fine of $200 to $2000 and/or 180 days in jail.”
Until that point it was a wonderful day out on the river. There were some bigger fish in this spot, but they weren’t interested in the bait I tried. Maybe next time.
*No fish were harmed in the production of this blog post.
After the storms on Monday, I headed out the Perd to see if the rains had any impact on the water level. While out there I remembered that there’s plenty about this park that I haven’t experienced yet. One of those things is the bird blind at the park.
My expectations were really low because I thought “low budget and state park must mean bench and tree = bird blind.” Boy was I wrong.
If you haven’t had the pleasure, put it at the top of your list for your next visit to the park.
From the park store, head towards the main falls. Keep an eye out on the left side of the road for the parking area for the blind. It is well-marked and should be easily found.
To get the most out of your visit and to be respectful of others at the blind:
- Turn your radio off before you turn into the parking area.
- No talking unless you are able to whisper (not all people are able to in my experience)
- When you park, try to park at the far end of the lot away from the entrance to the blind.
- Close the door to your car as quietly as possible
- Don’t set your alarm. Lock your doors, but no honking of the horn to set the alarm.
- Enter the blind quietly (don’t let the gate slam)
There are two large bird blinds once you enter. The first one on the right, pictured below, has a few hummingbird feeders.
I saw several different species in just a short time in this blind.
There is another blind in this area that has a special visitor right now.
I was lucky to get there around feeding time. The volunteer, Mr. Strickland, said that the baby fox, pictured below, shows up every day around 5pm and stays about an hour.
According to Mr. Strickland, there is a mother and a couple of other young foxes. However he had not seen them in a few days and the worry is that something might have happened to them. Hopefully this little guy is not on his own so young.
The park is in the middle of a large project at the blind/surrounding area. They are building a large star gazing area. Mr. Strickland said that there would be a telescope and accompanying facility. I look forward to visiting this facility when it opens.
I made it out to Pedernales on Monday after the heavy rains. Got some great pictures with the old camera I dug out of the closet. Easy to say that this park is my favorite so far. Every time I visit I see something I haven’t seen before.
Park #2 on our quest to visit all 93 State Parks of Texas was Pedernales Falls State Park.
Pedernales Falls State Park is in Johnson City, TX about 35 minutes outside of Austin.
Park 2/93 February 9, 2013
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.