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.

Lower-McKinney-Falls

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.

texas parks

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.

PedernalesFalls1TXDOT

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.

Lockhart-2902

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.

Advertisements

Labor Day Festivals and Events in Central Texas


Monday is Labor Day – meaning the end of the summer, the beginning of fall, and a three day weekend to help ease you into the season. For Central Texans, Labor Day is usually still a scorcher, but there are many things you can do to celebrate in Central Texas, either for the day or for the weekend.

About an hour and a half west of Kyle, the Kerrville Fall Music Fundraiser celebrates the spirit of songwriting and drink-making at the Quiet Valley Ranch, Friday August 30th, to Sunday September 1st. The three-day event features tastings and seminars from some of Central Texas’ premiere wineries and breweries, along with performances from a number of local and regional songwriters. Performances will take place during the days and at night; but the wine and beer booths will only be set up during the night performances, from wineries and breweries hailing from all over the state – including Fredericksburg’s Pedernales Brewing Company, Austin‘s Independence Brewing Company, Messina Hof Winery, and Becker Vineyards, among others.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo by Susan Roads, courtesy of KerrvilleMusic.com

East of Kyle, the Fayette County Fair takes place in La Grange Thursday through Sunday on the Fayette County Fairgrounds. In its 86th year, the annual festival is an iconic Central Texas event, featuring agriculture and livestock shows, live music, a beauty pageant, a BBQ cook off, carnival rides and more. Tickets to the fair are $15 and include access to everything but the carnival rides. The carnival is open every evening from 6:00 to close, and all-you-can-ride wristbands are $35. On Sunday, bring 4 canned goods for the AMEN food pantry and get $5 off the carnival wristband, too. The perfect family-friendly Labor Day activity, just a little over an hour away from Kyle.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of The Katy News

For those who wish to stay in town this Labor Day, there are countless ways to celebrate at home, with the family and the neighbors. The Kyle Pool is open from 11-5 until Labor Day, after which it closes for the season, and, for Plum Creek residents, there is always Fergus and McNaughton Pools. Or you can have one final summer grill out with the neighbors.

 

 

Water Spots in Central Texas + Ways to Keep Cool AND Have Fun This Summer


It’s getting hot, hot, hot. And even though the outside temperature is rising, your body temperature doesn’t have to, with these fun, water-based ways for you, your friends and the kids to keep cool in the out-of-doors.

Central Texas is one of the most water-replete areas of the state, and with all the rivers and lakes in and around the Hill Country, there are countless watering holes to explore. In Wimberley, Jacob’s Well is one of our favorites. One of the longest underwater caves in Texas and an artesian spring, Jacob’s Well has been a beloved swimming hole for generations, and is a source of water for recharging the Edwards Aquifer. The water stays at a constant 68 degrees throughout the year, so it’s a wonderful place to cool down in the summer, too. There isn’t too much room for wading or actual swimming, but there is a rock face on the side of the well that makes a great diving board. And the hole goes 30 feet deep, so there’s no chance of diving too far.

Plum Creek, TX

Photo courtesy of Visit Wimberley

Also in Wimberley is Blue Hole, a more traditional swimming hole with changing rooms and restrooms, stone walkways in and out of the pool, and ladders for the deeper areas. The hole is shaded by mature Cypress trees, and there is a nice, grassy area across from the water that is perfect for a family picnic or for drying off in the sun. There’s a $7 entry fee – but it’s well worth it. Both Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole are less than 20 minutes away from Kyle, making them a perfect afternoon excursion for cooling off with the family or friends.

Up north in Austin, there’s the Barton Creek Greenbelt, an urban oasis of trails for running or biking and great watering spots like Campbell’s Hole, Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls. They’re really popular places for Austinites to explore, and some of them are a bit of a hike, but they’re magical natural spaces, and are great for people watching. Here’s a PDF map of the Greenbelt with details about trails, water spots and access points, courtesy of the Austin Parks & Recreation Department.

Plum Creek, TX

Photo of Sculpture Falls courtesy of Flickr

For at-home water fun for the family, there’s a lot that can be done with sprinklers, ice and the outdoor hose. Games like water limbo, splash tag and musical sprinkler freeze are great games for a crew of kids, and there’s always a traditional water balloon or water gun fight. Here’s a pretty robust list of some great water-based outdoor games for summer parties or those afternoons where your house is the place to be.

You can also have your kids play outside with ice to keep cool in the summer. Freeze action figures in blocks of ice for an icy excavation game, or make an art craft out of ice by sprinkling salt in a block of ice to melt the cracks and tunnels. Then drip liquid watercolor paint into the tunnels and see the beautiful patterns that the salt created.

Plum Creek, TX

 

Then there’s always the traditional pool action. Plum Creek has two in the neighborhood – Fergus and McNaughton – each with their own distinct personalities, and the City of Kyle’s public pool is open throughout the summer. Plus they have fun programming going on this summer, too.

So whether you want to stay in the neighborhood, in the city, or do some exploring, there’s so much to do to keep cool this summer in Central Texas. For more watering holes in the area, check out some of our past posts here.

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!

When the Great Outdoors are Calling Your Name


When the great outdoors starts calling your name, you know you have to pack up the car and head to wide open spaces. The Texas Hill Country is rife with opportunities to hike, bike, fish, float and camp. Before the high heat is upon us, be sure to catch a weekend or two at a nearby camping spot. Not sure where to go? We’ve picked the tops spots for Plum Creekers to pitch a tent, sing a round of Kumbaya and get away from it all.

Bastrop State Park

Plum Creek, New Homes for Sale in Kyle, TX

The devastating wildfires that swept through Bastrop in September of 2011 caused severe damage to over 95% of Bastrop State Park. After a period of recovery, the park is once again open to the public and Central Texans are stoked. Camp grounds are filled with nature lovers and newbies exploring the park’s 5,926 acres of pine trees, trails, lakes and historic sites. Night hikes, frog and toad watches, fishing lessons and more keep visitors busy and entertained. Even a solar eclipse viewing party was hosted this past weekend (mark your calendars for 2024). Just 50 miles northeast of Kyle, Bastrop State Park is far enough to feel like a change of scenery yet close enough to reach within an hour.

Pedernales Falls State Park

Plum Creek, New Homes for Sale in Kyle, TX

Johnson City’s majestic Pedernales River, flowing 40 miles northwest of Kyle, sets the tone for Pedernales Falls State Park. All kinds of outdoor activities are open to visitors, including camping, fishing, swimming, canoeing, bird watching, and picnicking. Experienced horseback riders can explore the 10-mile equestrian trail, but at the moment, the park is strictly B.Y.O.H., or ‘bring your own horse’. Hiking is a well-loved pastime at Pedernales Falls State Park. The 7-mile Wolf Mountain trail leads hikers through some of the most special parts of the park with spectacular vistas. Make sure you pack your camera for this park – it’s almost a felony not to.

Guadalupe River State Park

Plum Creek, New Homes for Sale in Kyle, TX

Hardcore nature lovers and novices can also discover new adventures at Guadalupe River State Park, located just 60 southwest of Kyle, in Spring Branch, Texas. Horse enthusiasts will love the 5.3-mile equestrian trail. The Children’s Discovery Center invites little tykes to explore nature in a hands-on and kid-friendly way. Microscopes, demonstrations and wildlife exhibits allow the inner explorer to emerge – a free backpack filled with tools for exploring can even be checked out for the day! Campers of all ages are also invited to partake in guided tours highlighting the park’s history, wildlife and animal species. Primitive campsites and sites equipped with your modern luxuries can be reserved before heading out.

This weather won’t last much longer so before it gets too hot, dust off your tent, lace up your hiking boots and grab the sunscreen for a few days of frolicking in the pristine Texas Hill Country.

5th Annual Hill Country Kids and Family Triathlon


The 5th Annual Hill Country Kids and Family Triathlon will be held this Saturday, July 24, in Plum Creek.  The race is geared towards 5 to 15 year olds with swimming, running and biking distances geared towards the participants’ ages.  The triathlon has been hosted by Plum Creek for the past 4 years.  For more information click here.

Barton Creek Greenbelt


The Barton Creek Greenbelt is an approximately 8 mile stretch of land reaching from Zilker Park to the City of Westlake.  It is divided up into three sections: Lower Greenbelt, Upper Greenbelt, and Barton Creek Wilderness Park, and is characterized by large limestone cliffs, dense foliage, and shallow bodies of water.  The Greenbelt offers rock climbing and trails for walking, jogging, hiking, or mountain biking.  After periods of significant rainfall, the river fills up and offers swimming, cliff diving, kayaking and tubing.  Cavers can also enjoy Travis County’s longest cave, Airman’s Cave, which measures 2 miles long.

Website

Directions