About Gorman Falls
Gorman Falls was a very wide waterfall that was arguably the prettiest waterfall in the state of Texas.
It tumbled over a reported height 60-70ft, but I found its travertine-like characteristic that really stood out during my visit.
As you can see in the photo above, the grandeur and grace of this waterfall was a bit difficult to convey in photos.
In fact, that photo only shows a small portion of the entire waterfall itself!
Both of those waterfalls were also very wide, percolating, and segmented in a way that was difficult to really convey through photos.
Lucky Timing with Gorman Falls
I was fortunate to even have made my visit to Gorman Falls during a temporary break in a series of severe storms that caused flooding in many parts of Central and Eastern Texas as well as Northern Louisiana.
Indeed, I had to worry about access to the Colorado Bend State Park because the road leading to the northern entrance was prone to flooding.
That said, the heavy rains seemed to have rejuvenated the travertine waterfall to the extent that we felt compelled to give it the relatively high score of 3 in scenic rating.
Prior to this storm (and our arrival), the falls appeared to have struggled to flow given the unusually dry and warm Winter that much of the Southern United States had experienced in 2016.
Given this timing, I’d estimate that this would be mostly a Winter and Spring waterfall, but it’s conceivable that thunderstorms could temporarily revive the falls at other times of the year.
The Gorman Falls Hike
I made the visit to Gorman Falls as a detour from the long drive between Fort Worth and Austin.
It turned out to be a pretty lengthy detour as the Colorado Bend State Park was relatively remote and a bit out-of-the-way from most populated areas.
Thus, I felt the experience was very naturesque and enjoyable despite the drama of the wet and potentially dangerous conditions.
Indeed, it seemed like a pocket of Nature in the heart of the Texas Hill Country that was otherwise surrounded by expansive fields and ranches.
So given this environment, I found navigating the trail to Gorman Falls was pretty straightforward albeit rugged in spots.
The trail was about 2.8 miles round-trip, and it was open to the elements so I’d imagine that it could be a pretty hot hike on sunny days.
The hike itself was mostly flat and flanked by thin trees with plenty of cacti (hinting at the desert climate here).
The footing was on the muddy and slippery side, especially where the trail traversed rocky terrain.
That said, under drier conditions, I’d imagine the footing would be much more secure and the hike itself would go by much faster.
Overall, I’d say this hike could take 2-3 hours at a leisurely pace.
It turned out that I did this hike in 90 minutes in a bit of a rush because I did it at the end of the day and had to race the onset of darkness.
Trail Description of the Gorman Falls Hike
The Gorman Falls hike started from a well-signed and obvious trailhead and parking lot (see directions below).
Navigating the trail was pretty straightforward as the park authorities had placed signs at the key junctions as well as little reflective shapes placed on the barks of specific trees.
There were other trails going to an overlook of the Colorado River as well as the Gorman Springs Ranger-led Trail among others to extend the excursion, but I primarily stuck with the main waterfall trail.
Otherwise, the dirt trail was fairly obvious to follow though it did get a bit less obvious where the terrain consisted of more rocks than dirt.
I reached the last series of trail junctions (where the main trail junctioned with the bike route to Gorman Springs) a little over 30 minutes into the hike.
It was after these junctions that the trail noticeably accelerated its descent and became steeper as I already started to see parts of Gorman Falls.
After a few minutes along this descent, I reached a point where the trail descended on a rocky slope flanked by cables attached to steel poles.
There was a short informal spur leading to a nice view of the upper parts of the Gorman Falls during this final descent to the base of the waterfall.
Since the surface was very wet during my visit, I had to choose my steps very carefully as it was very slippery.
That said, I could start appreciating the scale of Gorman Falls as the descending trail started passing before parts of the wide waterfall.
At the bottom of the steep descent, there was a viewing deck with interpretive signs.
But given the amount of foliage growing around the base of the waterfall as well as the overall length of the falls itself, it was difficult to get a clean expansive view of the whole thing.
It really was the kind of waterfall where pictures don’t do it justice.
Meanwhile, the wide Colorado River ran alongside the canyon I was in.
In fact, the trail continued to meander alongside the river though it wasn’t necessary to continue on that path as far as the waterfall experience was concerned.
After having my fill of this waterfall, I returned the way I came.
The Colorado River
Finally, I have to mention that the presence of the Colorado River confused me.
After all, I had always thought that the river originated in the Rocky Mountains and drained to the Gulf of California between California and Arizona passing through places like the Grand Canyon and Canyonlands National Parks, among others.
However, it turned out that this particular Colorado River happened to be on a different river system with the same name.
This particular river system flowed pretty much in the state of Texas cutting through the Texas Hill Country before passing through the state capital of Austin on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Gorman Falls resides in the Colorado Bend State Park near Lampasas in San Saba County, Texas. It is administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
We had a bit of an adventure on our drive to Gorman Falls from Fort Worth (it was the very first thing we did after arriving and picking up the rental car).
Watch Out for the Navigation System
First and foremost, the official brochure for Colorado Bend State Park very clearly stated that most GPS navigation will not get you to the park.
We suspect the reason why that was the case was that such maps presumed private roads could be taken.
In fact, when we were routing to Gorman Falls while making our long drive from Fort Worth to Austin, we repeatedly had to ignore the GPS as it insisted that we should be taking numerous side roads and country roads to get there.
The key for us to reaching Colorado Bend State Park was to get to the town of Lampasas.
Driving from Lampasas to Colorado Bend State Park
Once we got to Lampasas, we were able to follow the brown signs for Colorado Bend as we were driving along the Hwy 183 through town.
Roughly 0.7 miles south of the Route 580 or 0.9 miles north of the Hwy 190 along the Hwy 183, we followed the signs and headed west on North Ave (Route 580) for about 0.6 miles then turned right onto Porter St to continue on the Route 580.
Immediately after turning right, we kept left at the fork to go onto Nix Street (and stay on the Route 580).
Then, we pretty much followed the Route 580 for about the next 23 miles.
Next, we left the Route 580 and turned left onto the County Road 486 (again, the brown signs pointed the way to Colorado Bend at this junction), and we followed this road for the next 4 miles into the Colorado Bend State Park.
Along this section of road, there was a very flood-prone bridge across Cherokee Creek as well as another flood-prone ford at Tie Slide Creek within the park boundaries.
There was also a self-help kiosk, where we would put $5 per adult cash in an envelope and deposit in their collection bin while detaching from the envelope and keeping the proof-of-purchase tag to display on the dash of the car.
Again, at each road junction, there were signs pointing the way to Colorado Bend.
The last mile of this stretch of road was unpaved.
Shortly after the Tie Slide Creek ford (which is usually dry), we followed the Gorman Falls sign and turned left onto the Gorman Falls maintenance road for the final 1/4-mile.
There was a parking lot and gate where further progress was stopped by a gate, and this was where we parked the car.
I believe this gate would be open for people partaking in the ranger-led Gorman Springs hike, and under those circumstances the road would resume another 1.5 miles to its end (thereby potentially reducing the waterfall hike to a mere 1/4-mile).
Driving between Austin and Lampasas
Finally, there are several ways to get to Lampasas.
We wound up doing this drive in reverse (since we were headed to Austin), and the total drive (including the 580 stretch to the Gorman Falls trailhead) took us roughly 2 hours.
Driving between Fort Worth and Lampasas
Then, we headed west on the Hwy 84 for about 65 miles to the Hwy 281, where we then headed south on the Hwy 281 for about 29 miles into the town of Lampasas, where it became Hwy 183.
However, bad traffic on the I-35W kind of forced us to take the Hwy 84 from Waco instead.
In total, we spent about 4.5 hours on the road between Fort Worth and the Gorman Falls trailhead (though we were probably delayed an additional 30 minutes or more from traffic on the I-35W).
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