Best Texas rivers: Pedernales River

Saturday, Joe Starr and I traced the relatively short Pedernales River, only 100 miles or so long. It rises in spring-fed pools and dry hollows in southeast Kimble County.

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Between Harper and Fredericksburg, it begins to take regular shape. (“It’s not a river until you can hear it,” Joe says.) The country here is hilly, but not spectacularly so. Pastures sometimes drop right down to the riverbed. Eventually one can find green scoops deep enough for a cooling dip.

Man has tamed the Pedernales — at least somewhat — at Stonewall and Johnson City. Below, a couple enjoys the peace of a weir at the foot of the LBJ Ranch.

The river turns more rugged at Pedernales Falls State Park, downstream from Johnson City. Here, flash floods put vacationers in constant danger, and playing on the huge boulders by the falls, even when almost dry like this week, is carefully policed.

Perhaps the loveliest section of the Pedernales, or at least the easily accessible part, can be found near Hamilton Pool Road, where people hike, kayak or fish in summer splendor.

The Pedernales empties into the Colorado River. During the recent drought, one could see the rivers connect, but now the Pedernales branch of Lake Travis is full — and full of lake enthusiasts, including a little knot of boaters, bathers and jetskiiers at Camp Pedernales, an old tourist camp that must date back to the earliest days of the Highland Lakes.

UPDATES: We’ll always update our trips and research on the blog. For a different display, go to TexasRiverTracing.com.

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