Monday, May 14, 2018

Tricky Nature Trail

Being mid-afternoon, I chose the worst possible time of day for photography short of straight up noon,

but I had arrived at my campsite at 1400, it takes all of 3 minutes to convert The Van from road to camp mode, (5 if I also set out the folding chair and table) and the half-mile Twin Falls Nature trail hanging off the southern side of the Pedernales Falls State Park campground was calling my name.

It’s a big campground and by the time I added in getting to and from my campsite on the northern edge, it turned into a mile and a half trip, but if I couldn’t handle that in the afternoon sun tomorrow was going to be a killer!

This trail, short as it is, can be deceiving.

First there’s the whole “Nature Trail” thing. Right or wrong, whenever I see Nature tacked onto a trail it conjures up visions of a short, graveled, or even paved, stroll, and the beginning of this trail does nothing to contradict that vision.

But it’s not long before this baby-stroller-ready path is dropping over the limestone cliffs forming a bluff above the river and ducking under low-hanging trees. (if you follow the trail on the right edge of the photo you can see it heads towards an ‘arch’ which is a toppled tree that has been there for at least a decade. It’s just low enough to make it painful on old knees to maneuver self and pack under it but the tetrain precludes going around.)

The second trick this trail has under its sleeve is actually managing to stay on it.

This isn’t an out-and-back trail but rather an open loop that very discreetly comes back out on the campground road between a couple of the well-spaced campsite. Unless you know where it is, this end of the trail is difficult to find so naturally most people start at the signed trailhead and walk it clockwise.

After dropping down the bluff then traversing along it for a bit you come to the overlook, which is a set of steps dropping down to a wooden observation platform. The problem is that when people climb back up, rather than strike out up-bluff they have a tendency to look for the easier route and continue traversing westward along the bluff. So many boots have gone this way that it has created a fake trail.

Right now it’s not so bad because someone has drug some cut brush across the fake trail but more than once over the years I’ve re-directed people from the fake trail back to the actual trail, which at this point is soon climbing up through a steep crack in the limestone. If you stay on the fake trail long enough it peters out and dumps you off in an area of thick brush that is difficult to get through.

At the best of times the overlook is a long ways above the featured falls themselves. In this photo one of the twins is below the arrow and the other is behind the vegetation to the right.

And right now, with low water-levels all over the area, the “falls” might be slightly disappointing.


But it’s still a pleasant little hike-et.

And at one spot I catch sight of Wolf Mountain, where I’ll be messing around on a longer bike/hike in a few days.


  1. Well done coverage of Twin Falls. I was first there in the first month the park was open (1970 I think) and it was spectacular then. It has now been about five years since my last time. Thank you for the memories.

    1. A lot more people using the park now than there were in the years soon after it opened.