Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park is a well known state park in Johnson City, TX which is about forty five minutes to an hour west of Austin. This was a “bucket list” hike for me for the 52 Hike Challenge. I wanted to go to this place ever since I heard about it. This was the destination of the trip I was most excited about. I had very high expectations of this park and it did not disappoint. The only negative was not really a negative but the trails leading to the falls were not marked at all but there were so many ways to get to the falls it was not a problem. It took me about a half of mile to realize that I could get to the falls at any one of the unmarked paths to the falls. Once again the wind was extremely gusty but since the hike was in a valley it did not affect the hike. Another windy video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WjnGUXxyeg The falls were flowing pretty good even though there was not much rain the prior week. The bottom level had a sandy beach and long narrow falls.20170122_13092720170122_13110720170122_131154

The water was very clear. I was surprised by the clarity of the water. It looked downright drinkable. The clear water exposed the different levels and layers of rocks below the surface.

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I trekked up the next two levels of the falls and found a rock beach and steeper falls and the water was rushing down at a good pace. This part of the falls was awesome, it was so exciting getting up close and personal to the water. The sounds of the roaring waterfalls and the wind was an epic soundtrack to the views.20170122_133637.jpg20170122_133635.jpg20170122_13343320170122_133604

Seeing these falls made this trip well worth the travel.20170122_133632.jpg20170122_133720

This was an awesome two day trip to the hill country. I made plans to return and have already returned for another two day that also included another state park. I was just so impressed of what the Texas State Parks have to offer. I was absolutely speechless after this trip. My next trip was up to the northern part of the hill country at a park I have wanted to see but got rained out the first time around.

 

Miscellaneous Hiking Post with a List

I know the this post was suppose to be about the waterfall Texas state park in the middle of the hill country but I am changing it up. I have been googling, reading other blogs and looking at my social media for what hikes are out there that I might want to do. I would like to conquer Texas, for the most part, but there are so many places in the surrounding states that I want to hike.

The point is that I have been to 23 Texas State Parks, 13 Nature/Wildlife Preserves/Parks, 3 National Forest, 2 Arkansas State Parks, 1 Oklahoma State Park and 1 National Park and it seems like I have been nowhere. The best part of the problem is that I find more places to hike and more places I want to see.

In Texas alone I found out about the Lone Star Hiking Trail. This is a thru hike in Texas just north of Houston covering 96 miles. There are an additional 32 miles over crossovers and footpath only trails in which the length ends up being 128 miles. It is also the longest wildness footpath in Texas and the only long distance National Recreation Trail in Texas. I am saying I will hike the entire thing but parts of it would be nice and who knows completion might be possible.

I also have a fascination of summit/ peak hikes. I am a dayhiker for the most part so they would to be able to be completed in an out and back day hike. It is possible, I have done a 12500 feet above sea level hike that started at around 9000 feet above sea level in a half of day. In west Texas there are a couple of places with 8000 foot peaks which would be the highest in the state. I would like to hike all of them. I am not talking about 8 peaks in 8 days but over time getting to the summit of all of them would be nice.

I also have unfinished business in Arkansas. I need to get to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain but I also want to see the waterfalls of Petit Jean State Park. These two are my must sees in Arkansas but I also want to do some hiking in Hot Springs National Park and Lake Catherine State Park. The pattern of mountains and waterfalls continue in my post.

I have not forgotten about Oklahoma either. There are two must sees and a revisit. The revisit is Turner Falls Park while there I did not get in any hiking or get many pictures. The two must sees are Chickasaw National Recreation Area and Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. Once again I want to be on the mountain tops and see the waterfalls.

I read a bunch of list that people want to do i.e. Bucket List or 40 before 40 list. First I am not planning on kicking the bucket anytime soon and secondly I am closer to 50 than 40 so that is out of the question. So I am making a 15 by 50 list for myself. A big part of the list is embedded in the above post but I will list them out not in any particular order.

  1. Hike to the Mount Scott Observation Area
  2. Hike to the Guadalupe Peak
  3. Hike El Capitan
  4. Summit Elk Mountain(WMNR)
  5. Summit Pinnacle Mountain
  6. Summit Mountain Top Trail(HSNP)
  7. Hike to Cedar Falls(PJSP)
  8. Hike the Canyon Loop Trail(Caprock Canyon SP)
  9. Hike the Lighthouse Trail(Palo Duro Canyon SP)
  10. Hike the Rock Garden Trail(Palo Duro Canyon SP)
  11. Summit Old Baldy(Garner SP)
  12. Complete Crystal Cave Trail(Garner SP)
  13. Complete East Trail(Lost Maples SNA)
  14. Find the Twin Falls(Pedernales Falls SP)
  15. Hike to the Moss Lake Trail and back on the Echo Canyon Trail(Enchanted Rock SNA)

My list is not particularly difficult and it will not change after I complete each hike so people do some don’t. I will do another when I am finished or 50 whichever one comes first.

Next blog post will have words about waterfalls and pictures of those said waterfalls.

 

 

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

If you are from Texas you know about this park. The park is located in Fredericksburg. TX which is an hour or so west of Austin. I have heard of it for years and now I finally get a chance to hike Enchanted Rock. I found a guided hike that would take me to the summit. I get there early and the park is already packed. The problem was the wind was gusting to the point it was difficult to stand. I decided along with a few others that is was not a good idea to hike up a rock being fully exposed to the wind. They did eventually stop the guided tours. I hiked the Loop Trail to the scenic overlook and back with a little off trail adventuring. I did not stay here long because I was going to another park the same day. Even though this was the first of two trips, I still did not get to Moss Lake. Loop Trail had so many great features to see and I was trying to get as much as possible but the wind was really blowing hard. Check out this video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZJ1hv4bq54 and you can hear the wind. 20170122_09553920170122_09575420170122_100807.jpg

Once I got to the scenic overlook I could really tell I made the right decision and the views from the overlook were incredible. I got a good view of Enchanted Rock and Little Rock. I could see for miles outside of the park borders to the beautiful hill country.20170122_10124020170122_101303.jpg20170122_101350.jpg

Heading back down Loop Trail I found different rock formations I missed on the way up. I was amazed at all the different small trails off of the main trail.20170122_10282220170122_10394420170122_102700.jpg20170122_105101

I am definitely going to have to spend at least three more days here to see some of the caves, Moss Lake, the summit and the rest of the trails I missed. The next park though I traded rocks for water. Before I left I got one more picture of Enchanted Rock so I know I have unfinished business.20170122_110910.jpg

Up next, waterfalls and wind gust.

Inks Lake State Park

Inks Lake State Park is an incredible place that I had never heard about before my trip. I needed a place to stay close to Enchanted Rock SNA and Pedernales Falls SP and Inks Lake had cabins. I did not know anything about the Texas hill country also but now I know the three parts of the hill country. This is an Austin area park located in Burnet, TX in what I call the central hill country. This post is about my first trip to the park. Since I did not have a plan for this park I really did not know what trails lead to what part of the park. I also found out that this is a park in which the trail map is not as accurate as most other maps. I did get off trail several times but quickly found my back. One of the most distinctive things at this park is the rock formations, they are fascinating.20170121_16481820170121_16272620170121_172358

Also the trails crossed creeks, dirt paths and rocky hills, everywhere I looked I found something interesting. 20170121_17164320170121_16331620170121_165739.jpg20170121_163331

After all the hiking I was rewarded with great views of Colorado River Inks Lake. The sun was going down and I wanted to get a couple of quick pictures before I was hiking back in the dark. The trails were not clearly marked and I did not want to try to use the map because I got lost using the map also. I actually got back to the trailhead when a stargazing guided night hike was heading out.20170121_165752.jpg20170121_165819.jpg

This park is a true gem of the hill country. I did return to this park to see the park’s highlight, the Devil’s Waterhole. I did not know it was there until I left and was so impressed I wanted to return and see what else the park had to offer. I did some research and planned it out a bit better. I did get a picture of it on the way out. It is just a taste of the second visit.20170122_080600.jpg

After this great hike I was really excited to go to the next two state parks. These were the better known state parks in the central hill country and the reason I was in the region.

Cleburne State Park

This state park was a pleasant surprise. It is located in Cleburne, TX, which is between 30-45 minutes southwest of the DFW metroplex off of Hwy. 67. I have driven past this park several times going Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX which also off of Hwy. 67. The park is another CCC park and the rock bridge and damn are incredibly built. The park has many features but I was here for the man made waterfall. This park is another park I did not think about visiting and never heard of till I was passing the signs directing passersby to the park.  I am glad I stopped by the park because it was worth the trip. The entrance sign was CCC built and then you cross a CCC bridge both very nice.20170211_124131.jpg20170211_124919.jpg

We hiked the Spillway Trail to the gem of the park. A three tier CCC spillway that doubles as a magnificent waterfall after a good rain. We, Dade and I, went when we did not have rain in awhile but still the water was flowing. 20170211_133017.jpg20170211_135649.jpg20170211_135523.jpg

Now if the spillway was not cool enough the limestone walls and the CCC steps along side the spillway was a pleasure to hike and see.20170211_135541.jpg20170211_132538.jpg20170211_140411.jpg

Once you get up past the spillway and on top of the limestone wall you get a great view of both Cedar Lake and Camp Creek. The view is marvelous and you can see for miles on a clear day.20170211_134114.jpg20170211_133720.jpg

A bonus of this park is once you get a view from the top you can see other off shoot trails leading down to Camp Creek. A good reason to get down to Camp Creek is the view of all three tiers of the spillway. 20170211_135533.jpg20170211_134819.jpg

I like this park because it is a good exploring park. We did get lost right from the get go but we quickly got back on course. We hiked about a half mile off course but still had a good adventure seeing the lower side of Camp Creek, a large gully to cross and some more limestone formations. You can follow the creek to the spillway or the trail. The walk up and down the CCC steps and crossing over on the spillway was also possible due to the low water. The park is packed with trails in a small area and plenty of scenic features. Next up are some hill country parks, the popular parks of central Texas.

Lake Whitney State Park

Next up was a guided nature hike at Lake Whitney State Park in Whitney, TX.  Whitney is about and hour south of the DFW metroplex. The hike was early morning and I thought there would be a hand full people like the last two guided hikes. I was wrong. I had never heard of this park prior to going on this hike and I guess not many people know about this park also. On the hike it was the guide, my son and myself. The guided part of the hike was not very interesting. The guide was nice and very knowledgeable but she did not have much to work with at this time of year. She did say that you can hunt at the Texas State Parks which I did not know and you can fish without a permit also.20170211_095228.jpg20170211_102553.jpg20170211_102817.jpg

Yes there were two bridges and a lake but not really anything that was eye popping. The second part of the hike in which we did without the guide was more scenic. We were closer to the lake and walked on a red dirt beach. We saw some deer tracks on the sand beach and about 30 ducks in the lake. This should have been the part of the park that had a guided tour. The park only has two trails and second one had more to offer. I wanted to see and old Native American settlement but of course I misread a map and found a trail but not the settlement. If I am in the area again I will go back to the park and find that settlement and hike around the lake again.20170211_110602.jpg20170211_111751.jpg20170211_111839.jpg

This was the best part of the park. I liked the hike and the beach. The hike was flat but you could tell that there were plenty of deer and other wildlife. I still prefer a hike with elevation change or something new to see. We did go to another park after this one since the hike started early.

 

Meridian State Park

The next hike was at Meridian State Park. I am getting to these parks as part of the 52 Hike Challenge so there are a bunch of parks I would not consider visiting or even heard of before I started the challenge.  I also choose some guided hikes because I did not know much about the parks or the park system. These little known parks are very nice but do not get publicized because they do have the huge destination within the park. This park, by the way, is located in Meridian, TX which is about an hour and forty minutes southwest of the DFW metroplex. I have never heard of this park but it was in close driving distance, had a guided tour and it had a place called Bee Ledge. It is a naturally occurring rock formation lookout shaped like a  sideways halfpipe. I have seen others since this hike but this was my first time seeing something like this rock. I also realized this was a Civilian Conservation Corps park, which is another new thing I learned on this hike. It was a guided hike so I was given a lot of information on the hike. I am not going to go into the history of the CCC but they built stone structures at these CCC parks and the structures lasted for a very long time and have a distinct look.20170128_093332.jpg

This is one of the CCC buildings we saw and the next is a CCC bridge.20170128_100857(0).jpg

The use of the rocks is a recurring feature of CCC parks. I came for the Bee Ledge but seeing the CCC structures were a nice surprise. Also Lake Meridian was a nice picturesque lake.20170128_111637.jpg

The hike was not flat either it had some very steep inclines and rugged terrain that made the hike more challenging.20170128_110038.jpg20170128_110325.jpg

Then you throw in a river crossing or two and you have a complete hike. We also saw wildlife and a tree cut down by a beaver.20170128_105220.jpg20170128_105439.jpg

Now what I came for was not disappointing. The Bee Ledge was an awesome sight and thrown into the mix of sights to see was a tree growing horizontally out of these limestone rock ledges.20170128_102903.jpg20170128_103329.jpg20170128_103344.jpg20170128_104051.jpg

We stayed on the Bosque Hiking Trail for the entire trek but there was another unmarked trail near the dam. The ranger said that they are going to have that trail completed at sometime and it leads to dinosaur tracks and other wildlife viewings.20170128_114851.jpg20170128_114856.jpg

I really enjoyed this hike and will definitely be back when the last trail section is open for hiking. It was a good experience being on a guided hike again. I am finding that the Texas state parks have many guided hikes at the beginning of the year and into spring which is nice but as I hike more the self guided hikes are a bit more fun.