Towering and magnificent, 70-foot Gorman Falls is one of the most stunning waterfalls in Texas. It’s so remarkable that visitors often quip that it doesn’t look like it belongs in Texas at all and that the sight would be more at home in a tropical climate like Hawaii or Costa Rica.
In other words, it’s a very special place–so it’s no surprise that hiking to Gorman Falls is the most popular thing to do in Colorado Bend State Park!
Here’s what to expect on the Gorman Falls trail, plus some tips to keep in mind before starting your hike!
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What’s it Like to Hike the Gorman Falls Trail?
The Gorman Falls trail is a classic central Texas trail that’s lots of fun: the bulk of the path is made up of rocky limestone, the trail is lined with cacti in many places, and there are occasional groves of trees that make the perfect shady break.
The reward at the end, though, goes beyond fun to simply magnificent. Gorman Falls is arguably one of the most impressive sights in all of Texas, and an absolute must-see when visiting Colorado Bend State Park.
With the exception of a very steep final descent just before arriving at the waterfall, the hike is fairly flat.
While I’d estimate that about 85% of the hike is unshaded, having occasional patches of shade and a very well-shaded final destination are very much appreciated when hiking to Gorman Falls.
Once you reach Gorman Falls, you’ll find not only the gorgeous waterfall, but a wooden platform located perfectly for admiring the falls and eating a picnic lunch.
The Colorado River is also located just opposite the falls, and you can visit it at the same time as Gorman Falls.
Essential Details for Visiting Gorman Falls
The Gorman Falls trail is a 3-mile round-trip hike, and it is set up as an out-and-back trail.
You can also combine hiking to Gorman Falls with the Tie Slide Overlook trail (home to one of the best views of the Colorado River in the park!), the Gorman Springs trail, the Old Gorman Road trail, or the River Trail to create a longer and/or more difficult hike.
From the various trails connected to the Gorman Falls hiking trail, you can then connect to even more trails such as the Tinaja trail or Cedar Chopper Loop, but be sure to plan wisely and know your own limits!
Colorado Bend State Park’s trail map (you can view the map here) ranks the Gorman Falls hike as challenging. We found the trail very doable, even with our puppy along for the hike, and happily recommended the hike to my grandparents (in their 70s but very fit) after finishing.
However, it’s very important to know your own limits, go slowly, bring the right equipment (namely water, sun protection, and good shoes), and be prepared for a very slippery and steep descent (and subsequent ascent) during the final piece of the hike.
Know your limits, come prepared, and above all else, watch out for the notorious Texas heat!
Where is Gorman Falls?
Gorman Falls is located in Colorado Bend State Park in San Saba County, central Texas.
The park is located in a rural area just outside the (very) small town of Bend. It’s about 2 hours northwest of Austin, and 3.5 hours southwest of Dallas.
How Long Does the Gorman Falls Trail Take?
The Gorman falls hike takes roughly 1.5 hours to complete, but that amount can vary dramatically based on your own speed of hiking, how often you stop for breaks/photos, and most importantly, how long you spend enjoying the falls.
Getting to the Gorman Falls Trailhead
The Gorman Falls trailhead is located down a small side road that you turn left off the main park road shortly after ending Colorado Bend State Park to reach.
However, depending on whether or not the front gate is manned when you arrive, you may need to drive to the campsite near the back of the park to check in before doubling back to park your car.
There is a composting toilet at the trailhead, as well as copies of the trail map (if they’re stocked), and a bench set up under some shade.
What to Bring on the Gorman Falls Trail
The official recommendation is to carry one liter of water per person, per hour. Be sure to come prepared!
There is a small store at the campground where you can purchase water in a pinch, but they only take cash or check–no credit or debit cards are accepted.
While the Gorman Falls hike is short enough that you don’t necessarily need to eat a meal along the way, it’s incredibly satisfying to eat a snack while admiring the waterfall–and there’s no doubt that you’ll be hungry once you get there!
Ideally, bring a bottle of sunscreen with you in order to reapply during the hike.
Don’t leave sun protection to sunscreen alone: you should absolutely have a hat with you when hiking to Gorman Falls.
Tips for Visiting Colorado Bend’s Gorman Falls Trail
Wear good hiking shoes.
Not only are the loose limestone rocks that you walk over for the bulk of the trail quite rough on your feet, but the final descent is also both slippery and steep–this is absolutely not a hike for flip-flops.
I wore my favorite KEEN Whisper hiking sandals and was perfectly happy with them, but hiking boots wouldn’t go amiss here either.
Sneakers are fine if that’s what you prefer, but make sure they have plenty of traction and ideally, a thick sole!
Get an early start.
This is perfect for avoiding both the heat and the crowds–the Gorman Falls hike is the most popular one in Colorado Bend State Park!
Keep an eye out for cacti.
Typical of central Texas, there are lots of cacti lining the edges of the trail, and some get very close to where you walk.
The last thing anyone needs is to accidentally step on a cactus during a hike!
Consider eating lunch overlooking Gorman Falls.
It’s a picture-perfect place for a picnic.
Don’t underestimate the heat.
Highs regularly get into the 90s during the summer, and the sun is intense and unforgiving.
Keep in mind that about 85% of the trail is unshaded.
Sun protection is extremely important when completing the Gorman Falls hike!
The Gorman Falls trail is dog-friendly!
Now that we have a dog, finding dog-friendly trails is constantly on our mind.
Our puppy did a great job on the hike, though we did carry him down one part of the steep section at the end.
Be sure to bring along pet supplies–especially water–on the trail, to clean up after your pets, and to avoid hot days if you’re hiking with your dog.
Don’t rush away–plan to spend some time visiting Gorman Falls.
Once you reach Gorman Falls, you won’t want to leave: the views are magnificent, the shade is a welcome respite from the hot sun you no doubt contended with along the way, there’s a great picnic area to sit and relax in, and you can even access the Colorado River for a quick dip if you like.
Be sure to account for a nice, leisurely break at the waterfall when calculating how long you want to spend on the Gorman Falls trail in Colorado Bend State Park!