Pedernales Falls State Park was our main destination on our Thanksgiving camping road trip. There was plenty of hiking, a little bit of biking and just a great scenic area to be in. We also made a side trip to the nearby Enchanted Rock State Park for some more hiking.
Day 1 at Pedernales Falls State Park
Arriving At Pedernales Falls And A Short Hike
We headed out of Caddo Lake in the morning for a long drive across Texas. This would be my first time driving across Texas and it would turn out to be a beautiful day for driving. We drove 79 across Texas before traveling thru Austin. The first thing I noticed is that the speed limit was higher on the 2 lane roads in Texas than what I was used to and the shoulders were wide enough that people would move over on the shoulder to let faster traffic pass. I thought this was great and safer than people having to move out into on coming traffic to pass.
There was not really much to see between Caddo Lake and Austin, but I enjoyed it anyways. I think driving between destinations gives you a good perspective on where you are going and where you have been. There was a lot of open land and that is my kind of atmosphere. I am not much of a city guy, which is why I was happy to get thru Austin as quick as possible and head into the Texas Hill Country.
We finally arrived at Pedernales Falls State Park in the late afternoon and set up on campsite #40. There was quite a bit of room between the sites next to us. In fact, our fire pit and picnic table were actually back into the woods about 60 feet behind the camper. After getting set up, we all took a short walk around the campground, with Reid riding in the stroller. We came across a short trail that lead to a waterfall overlook that I had to check out.
Kyle came along with me while Lynn and Reid continued meandering around the campground. It turned out to be a nice short little hike to a platform that overlooked a small waterfall down below called Twin Falls. We saw a few deer fairly close up that watched us walk right by. I even took a couple pictures of Kyle with the deer in the background. The sun was getting close to setting, so we made our way out of the trail to rejoin Lynn and Reid. We headed back to camp for a small campfire and then a good nights sleep. It was a nice start to the next few days at Pedernales Falls State Park.
Day 2 At Pedernales Falls State Park
Hiking, Pedernales Falls and Old Rock Fences
I am an early riser and love to watch the sun come up over the land, especially when we are on a camping trip. First thing in the morning, I made some coffee on the old percolator pot and Coleman stove. Even though we have the camper, I still like to cook outdoors. I filled my cup with some fresh coffee and took a walk down to the Trammel River crossing. The water was actually overflowing quite high and fast, so the crossing was impassable, but the scenery was great. The sun was coming up over the hills and was shaping up to be a great day. These are the moments that you have to just sit and take in for a few minutes. I don’t take pictures of these place because the picture may be great, but I take the pictures to take me back to that moment every time I see the picture.
After I got back to camp, we figured we would pack the boys up in the Jeep and check out the rest of the park. By the time we drove over to the picnic area, one of the boys had already fallen asleep. I stayed at the jeep with the boys while Lynn took a short hike down the trail to the swim area to check things out and have some of her own piece and quite time.
After she got back, we drove over to the parking lot for the main falls area. I ran down to check out the falls area real quick, while Lynn waited up at the parking area with the boys. Reid was less than 4 months old and Kyle was not quite 2 at the time, so we were still learning how to travel and sight see with the kids. The falls were beautiful and I couldn’t resist walking down to the rocks to check everything out a little closer. I could have spent all day down there, but I wanted Lynn to see the falls area also.
I ran back to the parking area and strapped on the baby carrier so I could carry Reid on our hike back down to the falls. Kyle was quite the sight. He was really proud of himself for hiking on his own. I did not take the family down to the rocks, since the kids were way to little and the water was moving pretty good at that time, so we just enjoyed the view from the lookout. We managed to get somebody to take a family picture of us at the falls lookout area for us to remember. I still remember that day. It is only a quarter mile walk down to the falls area and so worth it. This was Kyle’s first “hike” and he was so proud of himself.
When we finished at the falls, we headed back to the camper for some lunch. Kyle wanted to go on another hike, so we headed down Warfle’s Trail which is just a short little trail from the camping loop road over to the beach access road loop. It was a nice little hike that crossed an old dried up creek bed. We walked down the creek bed to find an old rock wall that was built by settlers years ago. The campground host told us that there were quite a few of these rock walls throughout the park. Apparently, the settlers built these rock walls to establish their property lines over a hundred years ago.
After Kyle and I returned to the campsite, Lynn took a walk down to the river, near the trammel crossing to read a book. I stayed back at the campsite and played with the boys. It was nice for Lynn to get some quiet time and relax. She doesn’t get a whole lot of quite time with a baby and a toddler at home. She said it was so peaceful sitting down by the water and had to take a picture of her book in front of the river so she could remember sitting there. It was a great day in Texas and we were loving the Hill Country.
Day 3 At Pedernales Falls State Park
Nearby Enchanted Rock State Park
On Tuesday, we took a drive a little further into the Texas Hill Country and ended up stopping at Enchanted Rock State Park. Kyle and I hiked to the top of Enchanted Rock on the main trail. I wasn’t sure if we were going to give it a go or not, but as we started up the trail, Kyle kept on truckin’. I had to lift him up over some of the big rocks and ledges, but he loved it. I picked him up a couple times to carry him and he would kick his legs like a dog out of water and say “I hike Dad, I hike”! There is a nice day use area at the trail head that Lynn hung out at with Reid while Kyle and I were hiking. There is a ton to do here and the area is absolutely beautiful. This little hike is one of my most memorable moments. I fully realized on this day that I had a new hiking buddy for life!
After enchanted Rock, we drove south to San Antonio to visit some relatives for the evening. It was really late when we made it back to the campground, so we skipped the campfire that night.
Day 4 At Pedernales Falls State Park
Biking The Trails Of Pedernales Falls State Park
It was our last day at the park and Lynn wanted to have some time to take a hike on her own, so she headed down to the falls overlook to relax in the late morning. Lynn stays more than busy taking care of the kids, so it was nice for her to have some quite time to relax. Plus, I had a good time just hanging out with the boys at the campsite. Reid was just sitting in his carseat at the picnic table while Kyle and I kicked a soccer ball around. I also took the opportunity to take some more pictures of the cactus’ around the campsite.
I had wanted to check out some of the longer trails, so after Lynn returned, I loaded up my hydration pack with some water and crackers and headed out on my mountain bike. I had it planned that I would ride the Wolf Creek Trail, which starts from the backcountry camping parking lot. Much of the trail was a fairly wide path and was really enjoyable. If you are in to backcountry camping, but not not the long thru hiking trips, Pedernales would be a nice place to go. I eventually made my way around Tobacco Mountain by Jones Spring. There were some nice overlooks along the way, that really made it a nice ride.
The most interesting thing to see, was the old foundation from a settlers cabin. I love old structures, they really take you back in time. The bottom half of all 4 walls were still standing and you could actually walk thru the doorway and stand inside of what once was somebody’s 1 room home. I just stood there and tried to imagine what it would be like to originally settle the land and make a home in the 18th century out in this barren land.
After taking it all in and getting a few pictures, I made my way through the rest of the trail. Knowing this was my last day at Pedernales, I really didn’t want to stop riding so I road around the park roads for awhile just taking in the fresh Texas Hill Country air. I made it back to camp just in time to run back down to the falls area before sunset. I really wasn’t ready to leave Pedernales yet, but I knew we were packing up in the morning to move on. We had one last campfire at Pedernales before calling it a night.
Day 5 At Pedernales Falls State Park
Leaving Pedernales Falls State Park
We packed up in the morning and headed to our next stop of the road trip, Dinosaur Valley State Park a few hours to the north. We really enjoyed Pedernales Falls State Park and highly recommend visiting anybody visiting. The falls area is beautiful and there is a lot to do in the park if you are in to hiking or biking. The water was high during our visit, so we were not able to access the trails on the other side of the river, but there were plenty of other things to do. If you are in the area and looking for a place to camp, or even just a place to spend the day, I highly recommend you stop in to check out the falls area at minimum.
Stay tuned for my report on the next leg of the trip at Dinosaur Valley State Park…