Pedernales Valley Loop
Pedernales Falls State Park
From the intersection of FM 12 and US 290 in Dripping Springs, go 9.6 miles west on US 290 to FM 3232. Turn right and go 7 miles to stop sign. Turn right to park entrance. Park headquarters is 2.5 miles.
This park is located along the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country. Hiking and biking trails meander through much of the park, offering visitors access to habitats that include cypress-lined river and creek banks, juniper-oak woodlands, oak savannas and wooded canyons. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded, and about one-third of these are permanent residents. Golden-cheeked Warblers nest here and are most easily found between mid-March and May. Common nesting, neo-tropic migrants include Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Ash-throated Flycatcher. Look for Canyon Wren in the canyon-lined woodlands. Migrant North American sparrows such as Song, Lincoln's, Lark, Harris, White-throated, White-crowned, Vesper and Fox Sparrows and Spotted and Canyon Towhees can be seen at the park's covered, ADA-accessible bird viewing station.
Texas Hills Vineyards
From US 290/281 in Johnson City, head 1.1 miles east on RR 2766 (the road to Pedernales Falls State Park).
This lovely vineyard offers wine tasting as well as wildlife viewing. Visitors can enjoy wildflowers and butterflies near the main building and gift shop. Behind the vineyards are almost 100 acres of savanna, scrub, mixed woodland and a pond. Greater Roadrunner, Wild Turkey, Painted Bunting, Bell's Vireo and Pyrrhuloxia occur here. The spring-fed ponds attract Green and Great Blue Herons. In the spring and summer, look for a diversity of breeding frogs.
Junction US 281 North and Pedernales River
From FM 2766 and US 281/290, go north on US 281 1.2 miles to Old River Rd. on the left immediately before the bridge. Follow this road past TX 356 Spur to an area below the bridge along the Pedernales River.
The river bottom is mixed, deciduous woodland interwoven with shrubs and vines. Green and Great Blue Herons are common along these banks, as are American Coot and Pied-billed Grebe. Dragonflies such as Eastern Ringtail, Eastern Pondhawk and Common Whitetail can be seen along the water's edge. The bridge is a nesting site for Cliff and Barn Swallows. A small colony of Mexican Free-tailed Bats roosts under this bridge.
Johnson Settlement at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park
From US 290 and Avenue F, turn south and go 0.1 mile to East Lady Bird Ln. Turn right on East Lady Bird Ln. to the visitor center and parking lot on left.
The restored Johnson Settlement is the site of Lyndon B. Johnson's family ranch. A nature trail starting from the visitor center crosses Town Creek, a densely wooded, spring-fed waterway that runs through much of Johnson City and encircles the settlement to form a complete loop. The gardens of blooming wildflowers and shrubs attract swarms of butterflies that include Queen, Monarch, Long-tailed and Fiery Skippers, Gray Hairstreak and Pipevine, Black and Tiger Swallowtails. Black-chinned Hummingbird is also plentiful. Look in the willows, oaks and elms for nesting White-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The oak savanna along the trail provides excellent habitat for woodpeckers and sparrows.
Tourism Office of Johnson City
Located near the center of Johnson City, you can find the Tourism Office at the corner of US 290/Main St. and Ladybird Ln.
This site has a small wildflower garden in addition to a lush native garden. Gray Hairstreak and Fiery Skipper join the swarming honeybees among native Texas mountain laurel, sage, hot lips salvia, blackfoot daisies and buttercups. Directly across Ladybird Ln. from the Tourism Office is the Science Mill, which features redbuds, coral yuccas and native grasses.
LBJ State Park and Historic Site
At the intersection of CR 204 and US 290 in Johnson City, follow US 290 west 13.3 miles to North PR 52. Turn right on North PR 52 to park headquarters.
Visitors to this day-use park can enjoy history, picnicking, nature study, fishing and view Texas longhorn cattle and bison. The Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead is a living history farm, interpreting life on the farmstead as it was in 1918. The spring wildflower display at this park is not to be missed. Resident birds to look for include Eastern Bluebird, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Phoebe and Belted Kingfisher. Summer nesters include Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. The creek bottom is a good place to look for an assortment of reptiles and amphibians.