What do you think of when you picture Texas in your mind? Besides the fact that everything is bigger there, of course. Dry? Wide open spaces? What you might not know is that there are fantastic lakes and waterfalls, easily accessible by hiking or driving. Here are just a few.
Image via Flickr by CraigAllen
Three hours from Houston, Krause Falls at Krause Springs is the place to go if you're looking for a lovely green paradise. Founded in 1955, this gorgeous spot boasts a massive, beautiful swimming grotto, with mineral pools and campsites in the area as well. Bring your own floats or small kayaks to enjoy the lower pools as well as cool off in the grotto. There is an admission fee, but it's minimal and definitely worth it.
Sam Houston National Forest, Lone Star Hiking Trail
Just a short 45-minute jaunt out of Magnolia, Texas, lies the Sam Houston National Forest. Rich with hiking trails, lakes, creeks, and rivers, there's a lot to do there. The Lone Star Hiking Trail winds through 128 miles of National Forest — through lake recreation areas as well as private land, so be sure to mind your manners!
The trail covers three sections and can be hiked year-round, but is mostly used in the mild climates of winter and spring. Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston are two of the large lake recreation areas in the National Park. Magnolia, Texas, is a great option to stay if you're looking for a quiet place within a short drive of the frenzy of Houston.
Pedernales Falls and Hamilton Pool
Waterfalls flow over beautiful limestone formations in Pedernales Falls State Park, forming many lovely pools, but the jewel in the crown of this park is the Hamilton Pool. Known for its accessibility and beauty, this 50-foot waterfall rains into a limestone grotto. Depending on weather and bacteria levels, you may be able to swim, but it's a good idea to call prior to your visit as reservations are sometimes required.
Chalk Ridge Falls
Open to hikers year-round, these lovely falls are well worth a few hours of your time. Hidden gems can be found along the walking route, and you'll be rewarded at the end with an up close and personal view of the Chalk Ridge Falls in all their glory. Don't forget your suit if you're up to a swim at the end of the hike.
A park that boasts one of Texas' tallest natural waterfalls, Airfield Falls Park is also rich in history. Surrounded by limestone crags, you can meander through the walking trails and play in the pools that are so abundant. Bring a picnic lunch and wander through the butterfly habitat as well.
In a state that has a reputation for being big, hot, and dusty, there are some amazing places to find gorgeous waterfalls. If you're ready for a hike, and possibly a swim or a wade, you'll find them in abundance in the Lone Star State.