Day Trips: Gorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park

Prettiest waterfall in Texas is worth the effort getting there


photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Gorman Falls, in Colorado Bend State Park west of Lampasas, is Texas’ fourth-tallest waterfall and quite possibly its most beautiful.

First off, the 3-mile round-trip hike to the hidden canyon is often described as semi-strenuous. The rocky trail is on fairly flat ground, but sturdy footwear is highly recommended. The last 100 feet of the trail is over steep and slippery rock, requiring the use of a cable handrail.


And, of course, the Texas heat can be the biggest obstacle, so bring lots of water.

Once you get to the waterfall the payoff is huge. Surrounded on three sides by canyon walls, the temperature is about 20 degrees cooler. The mist and sound of the waterfall fill the air where the park has built a platform of benches. Enjoy the sight of the water falling over a fern- and moss-covered cliff as Gorman Creek empties into the Colorado River.


This is the only waterfall in Texas that is growing. In the last 10 years, the cliff that the creek cascades over has grown at least 5 feet to 70 feet. Rather than eroding the rock, the mineral-rich creek builds up calcium carbonate deposits that create travertine formations.

The travertine is fragile, so there is no swimming under the falls. The closest place to cool off – and it’s worth the 9-mile drive – is 6 miles of river frontage at the campground. The Spicewood Springs Trail near the boat ramp leads to seasonal spring-fed swimming holes.

Gorman Falls is near the entrance to Colorado Bend State Park a little more than 20 miles west of Lampasas. The park has 35 miles of hike and bike trails. Cave tours (reservations required) are offered on weekends through a concessionaire. The campground is primitive, no hookups, but scenic and right along the river.


1,710th in a series. Everywhere is a day trip from somewhere: Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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