Things to Do

A Texas Hill Country Gem of Nature: Visiting Westcave Preserve

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Should there be anyone who still has the notion that all of Texas is flat and dry, a visit to Westcave Preserve, in the Texas Hill Country, would certainly prove otherwise. Even those that regularly make a trek to this natural wonder continue to be regularly impressed by the amazing sites in this cool and sheltered canyon. The result of an immense limestone cave in southwestern Travis County which gradually collapsed, the centerpiece of this natural beauty is most definitely the waterfall at the terminus of a half-mile-long trail, where spring-fed Heinz Branch Creek rolls over a 40-foot-deep chasm, into a crystal-clear pool at its base.

A Texas Hill Country Gem of Nature: Visiting Westcave Preserve

Photo: Facebook/Oficina de Turismo de Texas

Providing the necessary moisture for a spectacular variety of plant as well as animal life along the canyon that leads to the Pedernales River, the waterfall is the culmination of the hike along a steep and winding trail that features numerous wonders in a natural terrarium. The result of a preservation project that began in 1973 with the purchase of the property by Austin architect, John Covert Watson, Westcave Preserve was first the brainchild of environmental activist, John Ahrns, who was hired by Watson to manage the property, and who, for 10 years, cleaned it, warded off trespassers and arranged for public tours. Following this decade, the property was then sold to the company that now leases it to the Westcave Preserve Foundation, resulting in the development of the preserve itself, including tour continuation, and the development of a 3,000-square-foot learning center which was constructed in 2003.

A Texas Hill Country Gem of Nature: Visiting Westcave Preserve

Photo: Facebook/Paula Gordon

The trail itself, en route to viewing the preserve’s breathtaking cave formation, water features, and lush vegetation, drops 40 feet along the path, and in conjunction, the temperature can also drop noticeably while live oaks and cedars quickly give way to enormous bald cypress trees and tropical-looking vegetation. Westcave Preserve is truly a Texas Hill Country gem of nature, and a wonderful destination for people of all ages. For more details on tour times, and trail access, call (830) 825-3442 or visit westcave.org.

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