A good portion of the Wolf Mountain Trail is an old jeep trail.
From Austin head west on Highway 290. After near 30 miles
turn north on RM 3232. Continue north until 3232 dead ends into a T-section in the road.
The entrance to Pedernales Falls State Park is to the right off of FM 2766. Upon entering
the park continue driving approximately 3 miles to the turn into the parking area for
primitive camping that also refers to the Wolf Mountain Trail. We recommend getting there
early on nice days as the parking area can fill up quickly.
The Hike: The Wolf Mountain Trail is one of the Hillcountry classics. The
hike provides a wide variety of sites and experiences that includes scrub land, dense Cedar
woodlands, valley vistas, springs and history all in one.
There are several creek crossings on the hike, but none of them will provide much of an obstacle.
The trail starts at the waypoint "Trailhead" initially heading south, but soon meandering
as it hugs the contour of the hills. The trail surface at the beginning is a rocky jeep trail,
but not too rough. At the waypoint "Creek Cross" the trail crosses it's first body of
water. Like the others, this one will not provide much of an obstacle except on days
immediately after a heavy rain.
As the trail approaches the waypoint "Bee Creek" look to the left for views of the small,
but steep canyon walls that line the creek. There are a couple of spurs along the trail
that head to the canyon edge for a better view.
Jones Spring is near the halfway point of the hike and is a pleasant place to take a rest.
Upon reaching the waypoint "Mescal Creek" be careful to avoid the the trails headed into
the primitive camping area if you are intent on continuing the hike. A large sign
marks the start of the camping area just beyond Mescal Creek. A short distance away the
trail splits. Take the right fork to stay on the trail and a while later take the left
fork at the "Y-Left" waypoint. This marks the spot at which we'll complete the outlying
As the trail continues to head east you might see campers to the left. The area is popular
with individuals and scouting groups as I saw several on the trail and in the camp area.
Some folks seem better prepared for primitive camping that others. One group of folks I
encountered on the trail were making a racket of noise by pulling a wheeled ice chest
behind them to go along with the rest of their camping supplies. Had the idea been
feasible I imagine they would have lugged an air conditioner along with them! Primitive
restroom facilities are available at the end of the camping area at the waypoint
Pedernales Falls used to be home for ranchers and farmers. Stone walls and the ruins of house can be seen from the trail.
One of the highlights of the hike and a perfect place for a rest is at the waypoint
"Jones Spring". Here a small spring feeds a constant ripple of water down a small
canyon lined with fern. The sound of trickling water and the wind through the trees is
soothing and there are ample rock surfaces on which to recline. Please be careful to avoid
trampling on the vegetation around the spring as it is quite delicate.
After a rest and a snack next to Jones Spring I headed back onto the trail and soon found
the ruins of a settler's house. Folks who have found artifacts on the ground have placed
them on the remains of the house's walls. Although none of them are likely to be
archaeologically important or for that matter very old, the rusty and weathered pieces
echo some of the activities that took place here in the past. No artifacts should ever
be removed from a state park.
The trail heads southwest. As it does so it ascends a creek valley's slope. The foliage cover
becomes thicker and provides a welcome relief from the Sun. Eventually the trail once
again follows the contours of the hills, thus saving the hiker from too much climbing
and descending. Had the layout of the hike consisted of more straight lines the
difficulty rating of this outing would have been much higher.
On the back end of the trail the path is less crowded, slightly more narrower and a bit more shady.
At the waypoint "Y-Right" the trail runs into a jeep trail. Turn right at this point to
head to Wolf Mountain. The trail to the left proceeds in almost a straight line to the
county road near the edge of the park boundary.
The trail system completely encircles Wolf Mountain and I intended to sample both sides
of the mountain. At the waypoint "T-Right" I choose the Pedernales River side as the
first half and consequentially the side that would be visited twice. It's definitely the
better choice as some of the overlooks to the Pedernales River valley below are stunning.
The waypoint "Overlook" marks a point in particular that held my attention for some time.
The trail around Wolf Mountain looks down upon the Pedernales River valley below.
The "Y-Left" waypoint provides an option for the hiker who is ready to cut the day short.
By proceeding to the left one is rewarded with views of the wooded valleys and canyons of
Mescal Creek. The trail will loop around back to the "T-Right" waypoint that started the
loop around Wolf Mountain and the hiker is presented with an option of doubling up the
east or west trails around the peak. Wanting to see the Pedernales River again I choose
the east side.
The second visit to the "Y-Left" waypoint is an indication to go right and start the
journey back to the trailhead. The trail descends along a rocky and occasionally steep
incline before joining up with the original trail near the primitive camping area. Turn
left at that point and follow your footsteps back to the trailhead.
Wolf Mountain is one of the most popular long hikes in the Central Texas area. Like many
hikes, the farther from the trailhead one goes the fewer people one encounters. However,
this only works so much and at Wolf Mountain it was never enough to truly be alone with
the exception of the creek valley beyond Jones Spring. Nevertheless, the four hours
on the trail was time well spent.