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.

 

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.