Pam LeBlanc swims in the Pedernales River at Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City on June 14. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

Recent rains have worked magic on Pedernales Falls State Park west of Austin.

I headed to the park yesterday, and instead of a trickle of water found a nicely flowing river. Look at me in the picture above – I’m waist deep in the Pedernales River in the park’s swimming area!

My husband Chris and I spent an hour hopping into the water, letting it carry us a few hundred yards downstream and repeating. We even got to watch a snake ride the tide, eliciting screams from waders as he passed near shore.

Mid-river the water’s so deep you can’t touch bottom. (If you’re not a strong swimmer, be careful. Currents are brisk with all the recent rains and the area is prone to flash flooding.)

Up at the falls area, where you’re not allowed to swim or wade, water this week was gushing over giant slabs of rock and crashing through slot canyons carved into the limestone .It’s beautiful.

It’s been years since the park looked so lush and watery. I’ve got fond memories of P-Falls, as we call it. My family spent many summer afternoons there when I was a kid, soaking in the river, picnicking under juniper trees and hiking along the river.

There’s another reason to visit the park now – 15 miles of new mountain bike trails. (Read my article about biking at the park here.) The park also offers camping, equestrian trails and bird watching.

It takes about 45 minutes to get to Pedernales Falls State Park from Austin. Take U.S. 290 West, toward Johnson City. Just past Henly, turn right on FM 3232, which leads to the park’s entrance at 2585 Park Road 6026. Admission is $6 per adult; children 12 and under free.

For more information go here or call (830) 868-7304.