“Explore beautiful Pedernales Falls from both above and down on the rocks.”
— Karl W
River/Creek · Views · Waterfall
No swimming or tubing near the falls. The area on the other side of the river is private property and you could be prosecuted for being there—based on the number of signs warning you to not cross, it seems this threat of prosecution is real.
Pedernales Falls are a beautiful set of cascades over large limestone rocks. Very easy trails lead to two overlooks, and two sets of stairs/trails lead down to the rocks. There you can explore to your heart's content.
Need to Know
During holidays and nice weekends, the park can reach maximum capacity and close to additional visitors. In such cases, the park will make you wait in line until some cars leave the park. It's best to show up early to ensure you can get in.
There is a decent-sized parking lot at the northern end of the park for this trail, as well as some overflow parking. However, the parking area can still fill up as this is a very popular area for runners and families. Arrive early before the crowds.
The trail begins from the northwestern corner of the parking area behind a large kiosk giving you some background on the area, warning you to be aware of flash floods, and so on. Initially the trail is very wide, fairly flat, and gravel. At a fork, hang to the right so that you can visit an excellent overlook of the falls to get your bearings on the area. Backtrack a bit to the Pedernales Falls Trail
and take it west. You'll soon come to another overlook that is a little lower and accessed by stairs. The stone wall built behind it makes for great group photos.
From the second overlook there are two trails that lead down to the falls—one on the left and one on the right. These singletrack trails are a little steep and consist of some stairs. At the bottom of each there isn't really a designated trail: you can just play around on the rocks! The mapped route is just a suggestion of a few areas to go and a few easy ways around/over the rocks. Be mindful not to actually cross the river, as the other side is private property.
The falls have carved a cool mini-canyon through the lowest large slab of limestone as well as some potholes that are cool to check out. After that, there is a way down part way back to the overlook trail; however, this route down is very commonly used and has been polished smooth. Head over to a fairly high-volume spring and then head out onto the second large slab of limestone for some more pictures of the falls and pools. Finally, head up to the third slab for the same experience.
The trail back up to the overlook can be a little hidden behind some bushes near the second slab. It heads up at an angle from the river along more stairs. It will bring you back up to the second overlook. From there, you can take the main trail back to the parking area, or continue exploring along the Pedernales Falls Trail