Break out the Tents! Exploring the Great Outdoors in Central Texas


Break out the Tents! Exploring the Great Outdoors in Central Texas

As fall finally approaches and those scorching Texas temperatures finally cool off, it’s the perfect time to make plans to visit one of the many state parks right here in Central Texas. Whether you like to camp or spend the day exploring, these hidden gems offer the chance to appreciate the natural beauty of Central Texas without traveling far from home. Grab your hiking boots and get ready to roast some marshmallows.

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Photo courtesy of McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls is the closest State Park to Austin and has all the natural beauty you could wish for but still close to home. Campsites are large and have a picnic table and fire pit. Located at the confluence of Onion and Williamson creeks, the park is a great place for swimming and hiking, and the falls are especially scenic after a good rain. You can also pay a visit to “Old Baldy,” a 500+ year-old, 103 food tall cypress tree, one of the oldest bald cypress trees on public land in Texas. At only 25 minutes away from Plum Creek, this park offers a natural escape without a long-distance road trip beforehand.

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Photo courtesy of Bastrop State Park

Bastrop State Park

Bastrop State Park offers a magnificent bike trail through the Lost Pines of East Central Texas, in addition to swimming, hiking, and golf. The park has rebounded after the devastating 2011 wildfire, and nearly all of the trails, campsites, and facilities have reopened to the public. Cabins and facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s are still standing and available for group rental, or for those wishing to experience a bit of history while enjoying the outdoors. You can also rent a canoe or a barbeque pit at the park and spend the day enjoying the natural wonder of the Lost Pines at Bastrop or neighboring Buescher State Park. The park also features scenic drives, if you’d prefer to experience the great outdoors from the comfort of your own vehicle.

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Photo courtesy of Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park is a favorite for family hikes, featuring an easy 7-mile trail that winds along small canyons created by the Mescal and Tobacco creeks. Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country west of Austin, Pedernales Falls is a great place for camping, mountain biking, fishing, bird watching, and more. The campground is spacious and well-kept, and offers campers a peaceful escape in a uniquely beautiful setting. The Pedernales River also offers some great swimming, tubing, and wading for cooling off after a day exploring the natural wonders. A quarter mile nature trail also leads to a scenic overlook of Twin Falls, perfect for capturing those postcard moments or just enjoying the breathtaking view. For equestrians, the park can also be explored on horseback on the rugged, 10 mile trail that winds up and down the hillsides.

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Photo courtesy of Lockhart State Park

Lockhart State Park

Southeast of Kyle, Lockhart State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family, including picnicking, camping, fishing, hiking, and more.  With nice hiking trails and several dams and fishing holes, this park is a great place to make a day trip or to camp for the night. The park also features a nine-hole golf course, the only staff-kept course in the Texas State Parks System, and a park swimming pool. RV travelers are welcome as well as traditional campers, and there is a CCC built recreation hall that can be rented for group events. And if you get tired of roasted marshmallows, the famous BBQ joints in Lockhart are only minutes away.

Want more to explore? Check out the Texas State Parks map on their website and plan your own adventure.

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See Y’all at the Watering Hole


The rain has passed and heat is back on. Now, the question that lingers on everyone’s mind is, “Where can I cool off and not have to swim in a sea of humanity?” It’s when the question gets stuck in the minds of those 12 and under that you’ve got a code red. If you want to avoid the relentless, “Can you take us to Mount Splashmore?” start taking notes.

Hamilton Pool

Plum Creek, Homes for Sale in Kyle TX

(Photo credit: Wild Texas)

Don’t let the drought get you down – Hamilton Pool certainly doesn’t. This creek-fed pool remains full no matter the lack of rain thanks to the never-ending waterfall that hangs above the pool. Make a day of it and take the scenic hour drive northwest through Drippings Springs by way of Farm to Market 150. Hamilton Pool is under a strict 75-person limit so if you arrive early enough and claim your spot, you know you don’t have to compete for space to dunk, play, swim and canon ball. Word to the wise: call ahead and ensure the park is open before hitting the road. Got a pen? The number is (512) 264-2740.

Wimberley’s Blue Hole

Plum Creek, Homes for Sale in Kyle TX

(Photo credit: Wimberley Visitor Center)

If you’ve been through Wimberley, you know it’s a special place. The town that works to keep big box chains outside city limits is the same town that works to keep their swimming spots pristine and enjoyable for all. Texas Monthly named Wimberley’s Blue Hole the second-best swimming spot in Texas in August 2008. In 2012, Travel & Leisure named it one of the top 12 swimming spots in the entire nation. Are we beginning to paint a picture? Even for an admission price of $7 for adults, Wimberley’s Blue Hole is worth every penny. Pack for an afternoon picnic on the spacious grass, stock up on the sunscreen and head the half hour east.

San Marcos River

Plum Creek, Homes for Sale in Kyle TX

(Photo credit: Trip Advisor)

If you want to stick closer to home, you’re in luck. Just 15 minutes down the road, the San Marcos River offers a full day of water recreation, however you like it. Weekdays are best for this trip; since the river is free and open to the public, expect a bit more of a crowd. However, it doesn’t mean the experience is diminished. Enjoy tubing, swimming, picnicking and all forms of summer fun at most any access point. The San Marcos River is the perfect spot to get a quick dip and be home by dinner.

For the best way to beat the heat that doesn’t involve succumbing to another day indoors, grab your swimsuit and head to one of our nearby swimming spots. Let us know where you are; tweet us a picture of your good times in the sun!