Day Hiking: Pedernales Falls State Park

I love being active and outdoors as much as the dogs do (if not even more) and one of our favorite activities to do together is hike! English mastiffs aren’t made for long hikes because it’s not tremendously helpful on the joints. That much body mass climbing and jumping is tough to support on the joints they have. Don’t get me wrong, I always take them on short hikes and long walks but it’s just tougher on the giant bodies to go super long distances.

Fiona’s Hiking Profile

Fiona has always been incredibly active and been able to sustain activity in the heat! We used to run on the beach, “hike” in the Hollywood Hills, and of course hit up the Texas hill country. Since Fiona has had her tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery I try to keep her active minutes to a healthy level as to not overexert her. More to come on her surgical experience because it’s definitely a major part of her!

Bruce’s Hiking Profile

Bruce on the other hand will run/hike/swim/be a total dude until he over heats himself. Nothing dangerous and more just him not being able to see that enough is enough. He has a different type of regulating and I more or less practice preventative health with him.


Pedernales State Park

Back to wonders of Texas State Parks! Living in Austin gives us reasonably close access to a lot of state parks. One of our favorites is Pedernales Falls State Park located right outside of Johnson City, Texas which is a little more than an hour west of Austin. For non-native Texans, Johnson City is the birthplace of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Prior to the state adopting it as a park, it was a working ranch in the Texas hill country. There is a ton of this cool history that has been preserved in the park!

Red dot is Pedernales Falls. Blue dot is Austin, TX.

Not only are there some spectacular views and great trails but it’s also really dog friendly! You must keep them on-leash while in the park. Real talk – it’s that kind of place where everyone seems cool if you let them off leash for a moment (say to swim) and as long as everyone is respectful of others. We took Ladybird, the Australian shepherd in the pack, with us this time because we wanted to go the distance. Bruce has been to this park with us before though and has absolutely loved it!

Previously we’ve hiked Wolf Mountain trail which was the longest and pretty physical in terms of the hills. This time I wanted to explore Trammel Crossing Trail. Mainly because I wanted to get to the other side to reach a scenic outlook. After about 10 minutes on the trail, we landed at the river. Naturally, we took our shoes and socks off and went about crossing. Talk about an exhilarating way to start the day! Ladybird loved it and then we realized it was um… a little.. rapid. She got picked up and carried to safely to shore. (Video above is us on the other side)

Up the trail we went and because we went pretty early in the day, we encountered zero people on the way to the lookout. It seems like outside of the colder months this hike would be rather warm as there wasn’t a ton of tree coverage but it made for beautiful fields with lots of cactus. Once we made it to the top where the scenic outlook was, we had the most beautiful view of the east side of the park’s perimeter. (Pictured below) A couple of vultures were up there trying to scare us by circling around us but we didn’t let that get to us.

View from Scenic Point.

Going down back to the river, we hiked on the perimeter of the park which was nice and secluded. It was very rustic and Texas feeling with that barbed-wire fencing along the edge. We encountered a few people with the dogs’ on-leash as well on the way down that were nice and friendly!
Once down at the river we (Ladybird) took a nice dip in the river. She loved it so much and luckily we chose a nice “beachy” area where there wasn’t a giant current so she could get in a good amount.


After her shaking out as much water as possible, we took our socks and shoes off and crossed the river again. Learning our lesson from the first time we crossed, I asked my handsome travel buddy if Lady could be on leash while walking across because it looked more daunting. He ended up carrying his girl because it looked like we may have lost her to the water. Both of them were pretty wet but it was more funny than anything.

Standing in the river about mid-way through the crossing

Couple of takeaways from this hike:

  1. Outside of the river, there isn’t a good place to grab water so please make sure to bring some for you and your pup!
  2. This was a rather gradual climb so it wasn’t too strenuous on us or Ladybird.
  3. Be careful and play it say in the water. Make sure you furiend is comfortable in water and water that can pick them up and go! Luckily, Ladybird was carried by her best friend so it worked out well.

Hill country hikes are great because they offer a good amount of scenic landscape. Walking down the river, you couldn’t help but be impressed with the amount of stone and beauty. It was a very quiet hike and I’ll definitely check it out again… hopefully next time in the hot spring or summer months! Let me know some of your favorite places to hike with you pups!

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