Cascading falls attract hikers to Texas’ most dramatic water features.
By Emily Moskal
Hamilton Pool at Hamilton Pool Preserve
A 50-foot waterfall spills into a jade-green pool in an open-dome limestone grotto about a mile from Hamilton Creek’s confluence with the Pedernales River. Activities include swimming, hiking and picnicking. After the preserve reaches maximum capacity, expect a wait to get in the park. During summer months, entrance is by reservation only.
Dolan Falls at Devils River
Remote and rugged, the 10-foot falls are accessible by paddling 1 mile downstream from San Pedro Point Paddler Camp at Devils River State Natural Area–Del Norte Unit, or 16.4 miles downstream from Baker’s Crossing on one of the most pristine, ecologically intact rivers in Texas. Both sides of the falls are on private property or Nature Conservancy land; do not loiter. A permit is required for overnight trips on the Devils River.
Boykin Springs Falls at Angelina National Forest
This refreshing waterfall on Boykin Creek greets travelers about a mile down the Sawmill Hiking Trail of Boykin Springs Recreation Area. In addition to the waterfall and the eerie ruins of the Aldridge Sawmill, the area includes a lake for swimming and fishing, campsites and CCC-constructed group picnic shelters in Angelina National Forest.
McKinney Falls at McKinney Falls State Park
Near the confluence of Onion and Williamson creeks, carving sculpted ridges into the riverbed, are the upper and lower McKinney Falls. The 10-foot drop at the upper falls is a popular spot to jump (with caution) into the peaceful swimming hole below. The state park also features bouldering, mountain biking and the popular Rock Shelter Interpretive Trail.
Big Bend National Park
When it rains, it pours. After a good rain, creeks swell and pummel the desert backcountry of Big Bend National Park. The Pine Canyon waterfall and Cattail Falls are scenic and remote. During flash floods, the Window, normally a dry water pour-off, turns into a 220-foot-high torrent, the tallest waterfall series in the state, best viewed from below on the Oak Spring Trail.
Krause Springs, Spicewood
Owned by the Krause family since 1955, Krause Springs features 32 springs on the 115-acre property; the main one fills the famed swimming hole. Sit on the rock at the cave entrance surrounded by lush maidenhair ferns and towering bald cypress trees. Swim in the manmade swimming pool, explore the butterfly gardens or camp at tent and RV campsites.
Airfield falls in Fort Worth
Fort Worth’s only natural waterfall cascades down terraces on Farmers Branch Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River. The falls are newly accessible to the public thanks to the opening of the Airfield Falls Trailhead and Conservation Park near the Naval Air Station Fort Worth.
Big Bend Ranch State Park
At 100 feet, Madrid Falls is the tallest publicly accessible — and the second-tallest overall — waterfall in Texas. Mexicano Falls is the third tallest at 80 feet. Hikes lead to overlooks for Madrid Falls and Mexicano Falls, but a four-wheel-drive vehicle is needed to get to the trailheads.
Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park
View the 60-foot falls on a two-hour guided hike or without a guide along the 1.5-mile Gorman Falls Trail (steep section at the end). The falls and travertine pools with unique aquatic life are fragile. There is no swimming at the falls, but swimming is allowed at the south end of the park. Hiking, mountain biking and cave tours are popular park activities.