Pedernales Falls POI & Dog Friendly Hiking in Texas

Pedernales Falls State Park is a large, dog friendly park in central Texas. Pedernales Falls is nearly 5,200 acres and is less than one hour west of Austin. Johnson City, former home of our 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson, is just west of this Texas State Park.

Abby and I at Pedernales Falls State Park
Hike the Pedernales River or rest by the falls

Hiking, camping and swimming (in marked areas) are potential activities at the park. Horseback riding is allowed on certain trails, but we haven’t seen many horses here. Pedernales Falls may require a bit of travel, but some points of interest are well worth the experience.

How to Get to Pedernales Falls State Park

Unfortunately, there is only one road (Park Road 6026) that leads into Pedernales Falls State Park. Additionally, there are no Interstates near the park. Either you head west on Pedernales Falls Road from Dripping Springs, or east on Robinson Road from Johnson City.

There are a few other roads which will get you here from the south, but they may or may not save you time. Here are some directions to make your life easier – 2585 Park Rd 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636. The entry fee is $6 if you do not have a Texas State Parks Pass.

Rocky view at Pedernales Falls
A Hill Country view from the Pedernales River

Once you arrive at Park Road, you must drive north to reach the headquarters, and even further to reach the falls. The park is open from 8am – 10pm, and I suggest getting there as early as possible.

The park turns people away because of capacity limits. We’ve seen this happen every time we have visited Pedernales Falls State Park. Make a reservation before you drive to the park. There I go again, making your life easier.

Dog friendly hiking along the rocks
Abbey, don’t eat those people!

Pedernales Falls State Park Amenities

  • Dog friendly
  • Public restrooms
  • Natural & gravel trails (26 miles)
  • Swimming (marked areas only)
  • Camping
  • Equestrian trails (13 miles)

Pedernales Falls is a popular parks for dogs and their humans. We see dogs along the Pedernales River each time we visit. Swimming is not allowed near the falls, but it will be the most populated area nonetheless. The trails become more solitary, the further you get from the river. This does not seem like a very popular place to ride horses even though it has equestrian trails.

Scenic Overlook at Pedernales Falls State Park in Texas
The view from the overlook

Things to Do at Pedernales Falls

You may need the Pedernales Falls Trail Map if you plan to hike away from the river. Horseback riding may be done on the (orange and yellow) equestrian trails, which are located on the west side of the park. Several areas are designated for primitive camping near the center of the park, but dogs cannot stay overnight. You may swim on the east side of the park, but not the north side.

Mountain biking and hiking are permitted on approximately 26 miles of trails. The blue colored trails (such as the Madrone Trail) tend to be easier, while the red and green trails (Wolf Mountain and Trammel’s Crossing) may be a bit longer. The black trail (Juniper Ridge Trail) is the longest, but it is a beauty. Other things you can do at Pedernales Falls include bird watching, picnicking, and tubing.

Scenic View of Pedernales Falls
The Pedernales River

Pedernales Falls is Dog Friendly

Like most of the state parks in Hill Country, Pedernales Falls State Park is dog friendly. If you have an active dog, Pedernales Falls is a great place to find dog friendly hiking trails and river views. Most people begin at the scenic overlook (point of interest 1) and hike down to the Pedernales River. The water level allows bouldering inside the river area. Be careful, the rocky area can become more difficult to hike, especially for dogs.

Our girl, Abbey, does not normally play in water, but she took this opportunity to have some fun. I was able to capture a really good picture of her playing and biting the water. It almost appears as though she is ripping the water out of the river with her jaws!

Be careful in this area because it’s littered with deep craters, some of which contain flowing water. At one point, Abbey, tried to step across and fell into a deep section. I had to pull her out of the water, but not before her whole body had went under. Don’t worry, she dried off rather quickly.

Abbey appears to rip water from the Pedernales River
Abbey rips the water from the river!

All 7 Points of Interest at Pedernales Falls

The first point of interest marked on the map is the overlook from Pedernales Falls Trail. However, many people walk down the nearby steps and adventure along the Pedernales River. The views are gorgeous, but the rocks can be tricky to maneuver. The area across the river is off limits because it is private property. We saw what appeared to be a barred cave on the other side of the river.

The second point of interest is the duck pond about a mile away from the falls. There was little-to-no-water when we passed by, and no wildlife was in the area. You may want to avoid this point on the map.

The third point of interest is an overlook which can only be accessed by using Trammel’s Crossing (point of interest four) in the middle of the park. You will get wet crossing the river, and whether or not the overlook is worth it is up for debate.

The fifth point of interest is Twin Falls. There isn’t much to be seen as far as falls go, but the nature trail is short, fun and easy to hike. At the headquarters you will easily find the sixth point of interest which is a scenic overlook. This is arguably the best view in the park excluding the falls.

To get to the seventh point of interest there are a few different trails you can use. We accessed it easily by parking along Pedernales Falls Road and using the East Boundary Trail. However, the spring was hardly more than a trickle, so you may want to skip that location as well.

A trail near the Pedernales River
The Pedernales Falls Trail System

Hiking Trails at Pedernales Falls State Park

In order to find every point of interest we had to hike a distance of nine miles, which took about three hours. The trails are not very challenging, and there are less changes in elevation than may be expected. Even though the park is in Hill Country, you may not realize it from most of these trails.

The total potential hiking distance is well over 40 miles!

Although it doesn’t have a view of the river, the Juniper Ridge Trail is probably my favorite. It’s a long hike, but it’s also a unique trail which provides some glimpses of the parks interior through the trees. The longer trails may be easier to bike, and here they are in descending order:

  • South Loop Equestrian Trail (10.7 miles)
  • Juniper Ridge Trail (9 miles)
  • Wolf Mountain Trail (6 miles)
  • Trammell’s Crossing Trail (5.5 miles)
  • Madrone Trail (4.3 miles)

The equestrian trails will not provide as much shade as the rest. The Juniper Ridge and Madrone Trails are very well shaded. Most trails are fairly easy to hike. The short trails near Pedernales River and Twin Falls may be moderately difficult to hike, or bike. Navigating the rocks along the Pedernales River will be more difficult than the hiking trails.

Pedernales River
Another shot of the beautiful Pedernales River

Another Dog Friendly Adventure in Texas

We’ve visited this state park several times and have hiked most of its trails. We will remember our adventures at dog friendly Pedernales Falls. Although there are many miles of dog friendly hiking trails, we only saw a few other dogs on the trails.

Abbey loves parks, she loves hiking, and she loves to go on daily adventures. If your dog does as well, Pedernales Falls may be one of the best parks in Texas to find dog friendly things to do. Where do you adventure at this Texas State Park?

I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it. We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site. Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly.  I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.

David Earley


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