Tips for Spending a Hot Summer Day at Pedernales Falls State Park

Swimming at Pedernales Falls State Park.
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We marked another item off of our Fort Hood Bucket List this weekend with a hike at Pedernales Falls State Park!

This is one of the most popular parks in Central Texas due to its proximity to Austin and San Antonio. It’s only a 2-hour drive from Fort Hood and a perfect day trip for the whole family.

On our visit to Pedernales Falls State Park, we did a short hike, then spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and relaxing in the river.

Pedernales Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Texas.
(Despite the lack of rain we’ve had in recent weeks, Pedernales Falls was still beautiful.)

Spending time outside during the hot Texas summer can be miserable if you’re not prepared, but we have learned from our past mistakes and had the best time!

Here are some tips to make your trip more enjoyable:

Prepare for the Heat

Arguably, summertime in Texas is not the best time for hiking. It’s just too hot.

But we couldn’t come to Pedernales Falls State Park without seeing Pedernales Falls. So, we made sure we were prepared for a hot hike.

Since the hike was only a mile round-trip, we left the cooler in the car. But we made sure that we had plenty of water and Gatorade waiting on us when we got back.

Also, make sure to apply your sunscreen before you get to the falls. Once you leave the stairs and start exploring the areas along the river and the waterfall, there isn’t any shade. We put it on the girls before we even got out of the car because it would be so easy to get burnt out here.

The view from the overlook at Pedernales Falls State Park.
(Taking in the view from the Pedernales Falls trail overlook.)

Bring Backpacks

After our hike, we were hot, sweaty, and ready to cool off in the river. But before we could even get to the swimming area, we had to trek down a gazillion stairs.

The walk from the parking lot to the swimming area is only 0.25 miles, but it is entirely downhill.

Thankfully, we had a backpack cooler and could fit all of our things into our hiking backpacks. Because a wagon or over-the-shoulder beach bag would have been a nightmare to carry up and down those stairs.

Make sure you bring things that are lightweight and easy to carry since the hike back up to the parking lot is not fun.

The hike down to the river was full of LOTS of stairs.
(It was a long walk back up these stairs when we were ready to leave.)

Wear Water Shoes

Like most Texas rivers, the Pedernales has a rough and rocky bottom. Which is a big difference from the soft, sandy riverbeds that we’re accustomed to in Florida.

We were glad that we remembered to bring our water shoes with us. Otherwise, we would have left with very sore and possibly injured feet.

Bring Small Chairs or a Hammock

The banks of the river at the swimming area were either very rocky or lined by cypress trees with sprawling root systems. There was very little room left for comfortable seating. It’s unlikely that you would find a comfortable place to spread out a blanket.

We were grateful for the camping chairs and hammock that we rented through Wander Wheels. Not only were we able to comfortably relax along the river, but they were lightweight and compact enough to fit in our backpacks.

The girls loved this hammock we rented for this trip.
(The girls LOVED playing in the hammock.)

Our gear from Wander Wheels made our day much more enjoyable. And the best part is that the equipment was rented and we can return it!

As a military family, we don’t always have room in our small base housing for lots of camping and outdoor gear. Nor do we want to pack it up and take it all with us on our next PCS.

Also, we are only occasional hikers/campers and it doesn’t make sense for us to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment. It was only a fraction of the cost to rent it and is a better option for our family.

Sitting along the bank of the Pedernales River.
(These chaisr only weigh about 2 pounds and fold up small enough to fit in our backpacks!)

Pedernales Falls State Park was the perfect place to spend a fun family day. We were able to get outside and spend time together.

I am always so grateful to make these memories during our limited time here in Texas and I look forward to MANY more before we leave!

3 More Texas Adventures

Aside from Pedernales Falls State Park, here are 3 more Texas locations for any adventure family.

  1. Chalk Ridge Falls: My kids have been begging me to take them back to this swimming hole ALL summer. It’s a quick drive from Fort Hood and a short hike down to the waterfall, making it a perfect family adventure.
  2. Blue Hole Park: This has been one of our favorite Texas swimming holes so far. It has a deep side and a shallow side, which makes it perfect for both big kids and little kids. And you just can’t beat a fun ‘waterfall’!
  3. Big Bend National Park: This adventure is still waiting to be crossed off of our bucket list! I can’t wait to take my family camping and hiking here in this beautiful Texas wonder!

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