Pedernales River State Park | Texas
A dappling of light and dark gives an illusion of softness to the hard limestone bed underneath. Clouds like some kind of giant swimming platform above - as if you could dive off into these waters and slide your way across with broad breaststrokes. Working your way from shore to shore.
But I am horseback and that is my favorite place - so I ride against the steady creak of leather echoing down this narrow, cedar lined path from one shade cover to the next. A trail of jumbled rock, like cobblestones unlevel and upturned. Some old road hidden by time and never ending change. The horse shadow beside me stretches long across the dirt and we follow the footsteps of deer and coyote north toward the Pedernales River. Spooked by our approach a jackrabbit lopes down the trail ahead then off into the brush, hiding. Does he look back? I don’t know. At the river I halt the horse, swing my right leg over and step to the ground. With reins in one hand I lead him to water and he drinks, putting his entire snout under.
There is honesty here. In the shuffle of tree limbs, the cedar and oaks, the murmur of this course way - rolling then suddenly quiet. I yearn for that, for the stillness and the silence. For that moment when the emptiness settles in and moves past you like a cool breeze through an old wooden screen door. My mind drifts across the sky, over the ridges and into the valleys and canyons of the hill country and then falls into the blue above for there is nowhere else to go of course.
And I dive in. I skim across the shallows over that soft limestone bed and turn to float. Drifting down river like in a dream waking only to the sudden neigh of the horse calling me home again.
And so we go back into the trees, into the dirt and sweat. The Ashe Juniper with its smokey release each winter and the white-tails and rabbits, the skunks and raccoons, scurry to hide as the footfall of horse hoofs vibrates along the trail.
Pedernales Falls State Park Logistics
Equestrian Camping: Primitive group parking/camping in a large, open field behind a locked gate. Easily accommodating larger rigs. Picnic table, fire ring and six horse pens nearby. ell water for the horses is available. Portable toilet. Limit of six horses allowed. Contact the park office for gate code if arriving after hours.
Trail length & difficulty: 10 miles of horse trails, much of which is rugged and rocky with some steep slopes. An intermediate riding level is suggested. No river access from the horse trail.
Shoes or Boots Needed: Yes
Water: Water at camp/trailhead and mid-way on the trail.
Park Maps and more details here: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/pedernales-falls