Back in November we took a drive out to Texas hill country in search of some hiking. We’ve been missing the mountains a lot lately and were hoping to find something to quell that desire a bit. Hill country is quintessential Texas in our opinion – the terrain is rocky and arid scattered with scrubby trees. We chose Pedernales Falls State Park not only for its proximity to Austin (~1 hour drive) but for its proximity to Jester King Brewery (priorities).
We noticed that to get to any real, single track hiking trails you have to go about an hour west of the city in any direction. Luckily we had a beautiful, clear day so the drive was very enjoyable. Since it was Veteran’s Day weekend the fees were waived, but beware they charge a $6 entry fee per person! We chose to do the Juniper Ridge trail after talking with the park ranger, because it was less crowded and had greater tree coverage.
We set out to do an 8 mile loop starting at the Madrone Trail, hooking up with Juniper Ridge, and finishing back on Madrone. Our initial plan was to run the whole thing; we ended up running the first 5.5-6 miles and walking the last 2. The terrain started out pretty easy, but quickly got very technical with all the rocks and tree roots. Snickers had a blast being off leash and running between us. We only passed a couple of people at the beginning of our hike and one bike along the way (how they were biking through all those rocks was a miracle to us!), and we thoroughly enjoyed having the trail to ourselves.
After a sweaty run, we made it back to the car and headed to Jester King for some delicious brews. It’s located on a working ranch so the grounds are expansive and ideal for hanging out on a sunny afternoon. Bonus: they have kid-free areas!