Hiking the Gorman Trail at Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park

One of the best hiking trails in Texas is in the Colorado Bend State Park. It’s a 90-minute drive northwest of Round Rock. I hiked the Gorman Falls Trail, including scenic vistas and one of Texas’s most beautiful living waterfalls. Honestly, I was inspired by a few pictures I saw online. So inspired, I laced up my hiking boots and made the trip alone the following day. And I wasn’t disappointed. The pictures don’t do it justice. It’s a Texas hike I highly recommend.

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20171015_160545-1024x576 Hiking the Gorman Trail at Colorado Bend State Park

 

Hiking the Gorman Falls Trail
at Colorado Bend State Park in Texas

 

I planned to park at the Gorman Conference Center, a mere .02-mile walk to the waterfalls. But I ended up parking at the trailhead and hiking about 3 miles. The Gorman Trail is one of the parks’ more challenging trails. I showed up armed with a map I printed off the Internet. I also had my celly and one half-full 8-oz bottle of water. That’s it.

Gorman Falls Trailhead is located near the park entrance. Look to our right, just after entering the park. The trail itself is 3 miles roundtrip. However, the park does have a free two-hour scheduled group tour. It will take you on a shorter 1.5-mile hike to the falls. However, you need to call ahead for times if you are interested in the tour.

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How Long is the Hike?

 

I saw many people decked out in hiking gear with huge pack packs and hiking boots. I started to doubt I was prepared for the Gorman Trail but I was there, so I headed towards the trail. That doubt was compounded even more when I looked at the map and realized I was in the wrong parking lot. But I was there, so I kept going. Thankfully, you don’t need all that gear. All you need is some sensible sneakers, a hat, plenty of water, and 2-3 hours to kill.

 

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20171015_160044-1024x576 Hiking the Gorman Trail at Colorado Bend State Park

 

Follow the Trail Markers

 

The Gorman Falls Trail wasn’t marked by signs after leaving the parking lot. You have to follow the rocky trail usually marked by flat boulders. The trail can be navigated on a bike and is accessible year-round.

 

Difficulty Level

The first mile of the Gorman Tral was long and flat. Cacti, dry brush, and tall grasses line the rocky path. Every 1/4 mile or so, there were trees that offered shade from the brutal sun. I was struck by the sounds that came from the foliage. I couldn’t figure it out, but it sounded a little menacing until I saw the moth that made it fly out in front of me on the trail. As it flew away, its wings rubbed together and made a peculiar sound I can describe as a high-pitched squeaky sound. I was relieved; I thought it was a snake or something.

The second part of Gorman Falls Trail is littered with huge boulders you must traverse. You’ll also notice the terrain begins to slow and decline the closer you get to the falls. You’ll notice the elevation change much more on the way back.

But I digress…

 

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The Roar of the Waterfalls

You will hear the roar of water pounding against the earth as you round a corner and see the man-made handrail. The stones are slippery from years of use, and having the handrail will give you the courage (and the ability) to tackle the steep, downward climb. I don’t recommend this trail if you are not in good health or struggle with balance because the rocks down the falls are incredibly slippery.

Grab the Rail

Grab ahold of the guard rail because it gets even slippery further down. The boulders are large, and the gap between them is enormous. I even considered sliding down on my bum, but I wish I could navigate down before it came to that. The trail is dog- and kid-friendly, and there is an alternate bike trail to the falls.

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A Living Waterfall

Hiking the Gorman Falls Trail is a small price to pay– the waterfalls are stunning. The colors are vivid, and the filtered spring water is crystal clear and teaming with life. It’s otherworldly, an unlikely placement amidst the arid terrain surrounding it. It is considered a “living” waterfall.

Unlike most waterfalls, Gorman Falls grows over time due to the high concentration of carbon dioxide in the water, depositing limestone to the exterior of the falls, making it more prominent.

Changes in temperature and pressure dissolve minerals in the water, forming deposits on tiny underwater plants on the surface. Over time, the deposits build up and form a rock called Travertine (marble), which has made Gorman Falls 650 feet wide and 60 feet thick over millions of years.
However, the layers of Travertine are soft, so the area right around the waterfall is restricted to foot traffic to preserve the fragile ecosystem for generations to come.

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waterfall-1024x576 Hiking the Gorman Trail at Colorado Bend State Park

Final Thoughts About the Hike

Don’t be like me— I suggest you do a little more than research. Bring plenty of water and go with a friend. I arrived around 11 a.m., but I suggest you start as early as you can before the sun is too high in the sky. I wouldn’t, but you can wear shorts, and I highly suggest a hat with a visor.

Take a picnic lunch, but stay on the paths; I also saw signs for rattlesnakes and mountain lions. And always remember… take photos and make memories, but don’t leave your footprints or trash behind.

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Address:

Colorado Bend State Park
2236 Park Hill Dr, Bend, TX 76824
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/colorado-bend
+13256283240
https://maps.app.goo.gl/oMeCxkFNeXpJqqch7

Comments

  1. Bridgit

    My family and I hiked this trail on a whim. I wanted to see the falls so I loaded everyone in the car for a daytrip.
    About halfway, I thought my family would leave me to rot in the Texas heat, but then we got to the falls and all was forgiven. We spent a long time sitting and enjoying the most beautiful waterfall with all of it’s luscious greenery.

    Thanks for posting this summary of you adventure!

  2. Mark Stewart

    The hike was really pretty with wildflowers everywhere. It was quite rocky the entire way which made it a little difficult. The trail near the falls is strenuous so if you’re not up for a challenge, or if you have bad knees you may want to pass. The falls are really pretty and the river is right there as well. It’s worth the walk to see it. We also explored other trails along the river. Bring plenty of water. Be sure to hold tight to the cable to get down to the falls.

  3. Candy Rachelle

    Such a beautiful scenery there. I really love to try hiking but not now. I am just waiting for my kids to grow up. and if ever I will assure that I can’t be missed this Colorado Bend State Park.

  4. Vishal Vashisht

    I loved reading about the guardrail and it gave me goosebumps because it sounded too exciting to me. The other thing I enjoyed was looking at the waterfall photo. This looked cool.

  5. LavandaMichelle

    I am a true hiker. I would love to hike here with my family. I have added it to my list for this year. beautiful photos!!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you. Texas has definitely surprised me in the diversity of its topography. It’s quite beautiful and fun to explore.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thanks Colorado Bend National Park is named for the river and is actually in Texas so your safe from the bitter cold here.

  6. Rebecca Swenor

    This hike through Gorman Trail at Colorado Bend State Park is indeed something that would be amazing to do as a family. The Gorman Falls is indeed worth the hike for sure. Thanks for sharing this awesome outdoor activity and gorgeous scenery.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      That’s cool. I get sode tracked from here to the kitchen… not very explorer like but its always an adventure around here.

  7. GiGi Eats

    You know what’s sad? I hate hiking. And as much as I don’t want to, I blame my parents for that! LOL! OH WELL. I am a gym rat, I love working out inside – so at least I get active SOMEWHERE!

  8. Sam

    We want to venture out to Colorado so bad! Hoping to next year! We would love to hike to the falls and will definitely take your tips with us!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Hey Sam, I love Colorado, lived there for 6 years. Colorado Bend State Park is in Texas though, thanks for stopping by.

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