GORMAN FALLS + TIE SLIDE TRAIL
The main feature of Colorado Bend State Park is water and you can find it just about anywhere you look. Visit in the spring time and discover lush green vegetation, bubbling streams and the main attraction — Gorman Falls. This suggested hike is not for the faint of heart or those in poor physical condition. It includes long mileage, steep terrain and exposure—hike smartly and bring plenty of water!
Before you can begin hiking, check in at park headquarters which is 6 miles down the main road from the entrance. After obtaining your day permit, return almost to the entrance and along the right hand side of the road will be a turn to the Gorman Falls Trail head parking. From here, begin your hike down the Gorman Falls Trail that will wind through open field and juniper meadows. After about 0.5 miles, you’ll see a trail marker for the Tie Slide Trail — remember this for later. Continue following the Gorman Falls Trail until you reach a steep section with wired railing. Descend carefully and arrive at Gorman Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in Texas . Please respect all signage and boundaries — the ecosystem and terrain here is fragile.
Return on the same trail until you reach the Tie Slide intersection. If tired, return to the parking lot via Gorman Falls Trail; if capable — turn onto the Tie Slide Trail. After nearly 1 mile, you will see a sign for the scenic overlook. Make sure to walk up to the viewing platform to see why they call this park Colorado “Bend” — it’s an amazing view. Complete the remaining 1.5 miles of Tie Slide that will link you back to the Gorman Falls parking lot.
SPICEWOOD CANYON TRAIL
The Spicewood Springs Trail is one of most adventure packed trails in the park and will take you across streams, up small cliff sides and through juniper meadows as you wind your way along this hill country water source. This hike is perfect for anyone who likes to hike in a swimsuit since there are multiple pools and waterfalls along the majority of the trail.
Start your hike from the parking lot, you should see a gate and bulletin board marking the entrance for the trail. The first quarter mile is spent hiking along the river bank until you reach the point where the springs feed into the river. From this point, you steer right and begin a series of multiple stream crossings that make this trail so enjoyable. Make sure your shoes have good traction, there are multiple pools that are slick but serve as refreshing swim spots for a mid hike splash. The trail can sometimes be a little difficult to locate on river crossings, look for cairns or other markings that guide the way.
The trail has multiple small waterfalls with a recommended turn around point at the largest falls about 1.5 miles from the starting point. It has a large limestone pour off that cascades into a shallow open pool with a small shore that is typically shady. If you find yourself traversing a small cliff side to the right of this waterfall, you are passing the recommended turn around point. Pause here for a rest in the shade, a swim and snack, then return back the same way you arrived.
CEDAR CHOPPER + TINAJA TRAIL
This trail is off the beaten path and recommended for hikers in good physical condition. While it lacks some of the live water features you’ll find on our other recommended hikes, it does have a tinaja - a depression carved by water erosion — that supports wildlife as a primary water source. This is the main feature of the hike and is the recommended turn around point. If brave enough, hike here on a cold winter day to possibly find the tinaja frozen over as seen here in the photo to the left.
Start your hike at the parking lot that sits near the Cedar Chopper trailhead. From here, you will quickly turn left at the first intersection. The next 0.7 miles is filled with juniper meadows, hill country views, and some decent elevation change. The trail is rocky, a little technical and challenging which offers a good mix of changing conditions that most hikers will find entertaining.
At the end of this section, you will see a sign to turn left onto the Tinaja Trail which will start a roughly 1.5 mile descent down the small canyon toward the tinaja. The trail has a few switch backs and if water is running, you should be able to see views of Gorman Creek cutting through the landscape. Arrive at the tinaja and enjoy the solitude, you’ll likely be the only one here! Return by climbing back out of the canyon and trekking along the same path you arrived on.