Hot in Texas? Not surprised, here are some awesome ways to stay cool, active and entertained
Blue Hole, Wimberely
Blue Hole just outside of Wimberley, Texas is well-worth a trip. When summer hits and the temperatures are soaring past the 90's and into the 100's it's good to look around for the closest escape.
Blue Hole might be just the spot. There is ample parking, toilet facilities, paved walkways and a big green lawn with picnic tables. You can come for the day at this spot. There are three different "jumping off" points along the swimming hole. The water is fed by Jacob's Well a natural spring close by.
There's a crushed granite walking/biking path, so you can work up a sweat beforehand and then treat yourself with a dip.
I highly recommend this location. Very clean, very convenient and beyond breathtaking.
The family loves this park. First go take a look at the falls. It's a downhill grade to the viewing area. It's longer on the way back for some reason, especially in the summer. You can continue on down to the banks of the river although there is no swimming or wading, with strict fines.
Head down river a bit and jump from boulder to boulder to explore. Dogs were in tow by several people -- or rather people were in tow behind their dogs - so I assume dogs are allowed to frolic here.
Pedernales Falls is the park's main attraction and may be viewed from a scenic overlook at the north end of the park. In this area, the elevation of the river drops about 50 feet over a distance of 3000 feet, and the cascading falls are formed by the flow of water over the tilted, stair-step effect of layered limestone." --
Once you've had your fill of this area, get back in your car and drive to the river parking. This is the spot where you can actually get wet. It's another hike down a loooong wooden-planked set of stairs. Again, it's much steeper and longer on the way up.
You could easily while away a day at Pedernales Falls State Park if you pack in your own water and food.
Open: 7 days a week year-round, except when wildlife management activities dictate closure of all or part of the park.
Hamilton Pool PREserve
This pool and grotto was formed when the dome of an underground river collapsed. What it left behind is a spectacular 45-foot waterfall and large swimming hole.
The waterfall volume flowing depends on the season. You may only see a trickle in the summer months.
[Location: between Dripping Springs and Johnson City]
The water is chilly throughout the year. Bring a tube or noodles to float around. I'd also advise water shoes or sandals. I thought something nipped at my toes a few times. A teenager/adult can easily swim from one shore to the other.
Space on the sandy area of the beach is limited, but you can find shade up under the cliff walls.
9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. A daily entrance fee of $8.00 per vehicle is charged. Travis County honors the Federal Golden Age Passport and the Senior Citizen State Pass.
The parking lot holds only 75 cars, and when all spaces are taken, you'll be forced to wait until a space becomes available before they'll let you enter. If it's going to be a scorcher you'll want to come early so you don't have to broil in your car, waiting for a parking space. Bring in your own water and food. No glass!
The hike from the parking lot to the grotto is 1/4 mile, but it's a bit steep and treacherous. Hold hands with small children. You won't be able to navigate a stroller -- nor do you need one once you get down there anyway. Leave it in the car.
If you bring water and food you can probably expect to hang out for a morning or afternoon.
Unfortunately, because the area is not highly supervised, there can be some unruly teenagers/young adults that may spoil some of the peaceful surroundings.
Guadalupe River State Park is well-used and well-loved by Texans. The river is thick with cool waters and friendly swimmers.
We hit the Guadalupe River State Park on our way back home from Bandera. It was a refreshing afternoon and allowed us to rinse off the dust we accumulated in the cowboy capital.
You'll find the park situated between Interstate 10 and Hwy 281 to the northeast of Boerne.
The limestone bluffs of the Guadalupe River tower over the river and cast shadows as you play at their feet. The bald cypress trees reach magnificent heights with their exposed root systems tangled and seemingly holding on to nothing more than a few clods of soil.
You can rent a tube after you've entered the park and the guys will transport you by van upstream several miles so you can float back down to your camp or car - estimated float time is 3 hours. The river crosses over four rapids and is a great tubing destination for the family
Reimer's Ranch: Mountain Biking
One of the great things about living in the hill country is the incredible weather and immense vistas. Mountain biking is a great way to get out into the hills and cover some ground. Stay hydrated and follow us!
Reimer Ranch is located just north of Dripping Springs off Hamilton Pool Road, about five miles past "Bert & Ernie's" hole in the wall restaurant/convenience store.
Rounding a slow corner on Hamilton Pool Road, a sign points you towards the entrance. The Ranch is maintained as part of the Travis County Park system.
Pass through the metal gate and travel on the unpaved dirt road until you reach the mountain biking area. Two miles of dips, holes and the accompanying jostling lead you to the park check-in. Leave your Lexus in the garage for this trip.
After paying $8 for car entrance, head to the parking area. Although, the Park is only open Thursday-Sunday it stays open late, until 9:00PM. Park under one of the large trees to keep your car from sweltering while you're gone.
The start of the trail system is accessed immediately off the parking area. A covered picnic area sits at the start of the trails along with a sign designating the ease or difficulty of trails.
Most, if not all, of the trails in Reimer Ranch are single track. My 13 year old son and I started out following the trail to the left passing the picnic area. Riding through an open grass area, we quickly came to a fork in the road, to the left was "novice" to the right "expert" – with little thought, we veered right.
Within a short distance we were in a stand of trees taking 90° turns and weaving through the trunks. Then we began a slow ascent. The progressive elevation change brought jagged rocks and a more challenging course.
The trails for the most part ran through stands of trees but would also break into bare open sky with plenty of sunand cactus. At the higher elevations the views to the west were of the distant, tree-covered hills and the valley below.
At the highest elevation we rode, the trail wound through, over and around rocks. More technical riders may have maneuvered their way through -- we were left pushing our bikes. The descent took us through some great ups and downs and along a narrow rock ridge that felt downright dangerous.
Dropping back in the grassy fields and close to the parking area were a couple of ramps that were built to catch a little airtime. This is a ride we will definitely be doing again.
Summary: The drive into Reimer Ranch was almost like riding the trails themselves --it isn’t paved which makes for a preview of what lies ahead. Once on the trail it is all single track. The park is for all levels of riders; there are novice, intermediate and expert trails along with a race track. I would advise to set aside at least two to three hours to explore these trails. BRING WATER.
We use the book, "A Complete Guide to Mountain Biking: Austin & San Antonio, Central Texas & the Hill Country"to discover new areas to ride. The book summarizes the "good" the "bad" and the "ugly" about each location to make choosing your next ride easier.