Exploring Texas’ Best Outdoor Spots: Reimer’s Ranch, Pace Bend Park, and Hamilton Pool

After a short detour in Austin, we planned to meet our climbing buddy, Teresa, out at Reimer’s Ranch on a Friday morning – so Niko and I took a few rest days at Pace Bend Park during the week. This friendly slice of exceptional Texas landscape is a miniature peninsula that sits on a steep cliff line above the water. Folks kept referring to it as Lake Austin, but it looked much more like a river if you ask me.

When Teresa finally escaped Houston to join us for a weekend of climbing, we set off towards stunning, and short, sport climbing. The Reimer’s Ranch climbing crag is located about 30 minutes away from Pace Bend Park, but it’s the nearest campground to the climbing – and the drive isn’t bad. Another great aspect is that once you pay for your camping ($5/night) and day use ($10/day), your parks pass is valid for Pace Bend, Reimer’s Ranch, and Hamilton Pool.

After less than awesome bouldering at Bull Creek Run in Austin, I wasn’t expecting very much from the climbing at Milton Reimer’s Ranch Park – but I was instantly blown away. You pull up to a rather dry parking lot area, which is equipped with immaculate rest room facilities. A few yards down the trail, the scenery switches: suddenly, you’re knee-deep in what can only be described as Fern Gully. The approach to the crag takes you skipping along a little creek, which opens up into a lush area alive with ferns and thick tree trunks. I was in heaven.

Niko climbing at Reimer's Ranch park in Texas during the Simply Adventure trip.

The climbing compliments the dreamy surroundings with pleasurable routes, unbelievably well maintained bolts and anchors, and a great climbing community. The only foreseeable compliant is in regards to the length of the routes – most are only about 40 feet tall, with four or five bolts. As a big chicken when it comes to lead climbing, I was totally content with the short climbs.

Teresa throws for a jug at Reimer's Ranch in Texas.

We hopped on a number of routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.12a throughout the two days we were able to climb, and I had a blast on every line I touched, including a great 5.10 b/c/d (?) called Prototype – which I top-roped twice, “red-pointed” the second go, and really regret not leading.

The most memorable route was a 5.10a called Fat Chicks Trying To Look Sexy. It was Teresa’s unfinished project, so we both worked it until she snagged the red-point. We also gave a go at a sweet 5.12a Niko was working, named Yertle the Turtle. Neither of us ladies made it past the third bolt, but it was a nice challenge.

Most importantly, I took my first lead falls, ever. Yes, that’s right, I had never taken a fall while sport climbing before. I had a pretty good run of on-sighting every 5.10a (and below) I got my hands on, but the time came for me to put on my big girl panties and take a fall. And you know what? It ain’t so bad, y’all!

This is me, not taking a lead fall, but rather successfully climbing at Reimer's Ranch in Texas during the Simply Adventure trip.

The plan originally included three days of climbing, but our final day was rained out, so we packed up early on Saturday evening and finished our adventure with dinner at Emcee’s Eatery – which was good, but took way too long. Fortunately, I was pretty down to have some extra time hanging out with Teresa, so I didn’t mind the monstrous wait to get my spaghetti. (If you eat there, get the burgers, so good!)

This incredible cave at Hamilton Pool Park in Texas is mind-blowing. How does it not collapse?!If you’re ever in the Austin area, Riemer’s Ranch is a must. Right up the road, you’ll find Hamilton Pool, one of Texas’ magnificent wonders. Comprised of a looming cave that hovers over an emerald pool, this destination is a popular spot during the summertime. When we visited, the water was a balmy 53º, but I was filthy so I took a quick dip to rinse my oily hair anyways.

Once again, Texas surprised us with an unexpected adventure. We weren’t very fond of our few days spent in Austin, so it was especially pleasant to discover a rolling hill country with classic climbing just outside the city.

Extra Beta: We’d highly suggest paying a visit to Bump ‘n Grindz coffee shop. A hospitable man, Marco, who welcomes you into his café with open arms, runs the joint where you can fuel up on everything from homemade soup to gelato. The coffee is strong, the outlets are plentiful, and the wi-fi is free.

My first sport climbing trip, fake mustaches, and chiggers in my belly button at Sand Rock in Alabama

To celebrate the end of summer, I did something I should have accomplished a long, long time ago: I led my first sport routes out on a climbing trip to Sandrock. One of my new favorite crags in Alabama, this area is an outdoor playground for both novice and experienced climbers armed with ropes and draws.

My first trip to Sand Rock was shared with a top notch crew of Tally Rock Gym rats. Our mission was driven (literally) by Ryan, who generously donated his car for our transportation needs. Fellow roommates Niko and Max completed the male portion of our team. My female counterpart was the fearless, freckled Allie – who crushed serious sandstone all weekend long. We left Tallahassee on an early Sunday evening, filled our bellies with some grubby Taco Bell, and trudged through the six hour drive to Sandrock.

I didn’t sleep a wink the first night on top of the mountain, which isn’t saying much since the rest of the crew only rested a handful of hours before the sunrise roused everyone from their slumber. I don’t know if we were too amped up about the awaiting climbs, or if we were simply delirious after such a long, dark drive, but sleeplessness was hardly an obstacle as we prepared for our first day out in the boulder field.


This trip saw the momentous occasion where I finally took life by the horns and decided to overcome my crippling fear of outdoor rope climbing – leading routes to be specific. A boulderer by nature, I avoided clips and bolts like my life depended on it. During an after-hours attempt at leading my way up the rock gym’s tallest wall, I made it a mere three bolts up before waving a white flag of defeat and lowering back down to the ground – weak, I know.

During our first day at Sandrock, I decided to start my foray into rope climbing with an easy top-roped route. I cruised up a simple 5.7, and immediately felt my confidence boost. Allie and I then summoned the courage to go for a true lead climb, our first of which was “My Dog Has Fleas,” a 5.8+ that asks you to burl your way up an ugly rock formation. It wasn’t our favorite route, but we both lead it like champions. Next up, we tackled “First Black Man in Office,” a much more enjoyable 5.9 shown to us by the local we met out in the fields.

Aside from the climbs, my time spent at Sandrock is best defined by a collection of beautiful moments. We spent each night sleeping out on top of a large rock outcrop that overlooked the many lakes and trees below, and in the early mornings, the sun rose in a fury of pinks and orange hues that spread out over the mountains and pleasantly woke us up.


Naturally, many of my favorite moments involved the discovery of little creature buddies. There were the dozens of blue-tailed skinks who slinked their way up rocks and through little tree branches, and the enormous green grasshopper who patiently sat with us while we climbed on our last day – I think he was succumbing to old age, but he seemed perfectly at peace with the world. Finally, there were the tiny little red insects, chiggers. I spotted one crawling on my arm during a nap on top of a boulder, and quickly squashed the parasite – but to no avail. By the time I got back to Tallahassee, I had a small family of chiggers who had buried themselves into my bellybutton, of all places. Very unpleasant.



Speaking of creatures, during a trip down the mountain to scour for grub, Allie and I spotted a small turtle attempting to cross the road. We forced the boys to bring the Jeep to a rapid halt, and launched ourselves out of the vehicle to go save our little friend – all while doning the ridiculous felt mustaches we had just won from a vending machine at a gas station barbecue joint. Enjoy.


I’ll leave you with a few more of my favorite shots from the weekend. Sandrock was a really beautiful slice of mountain, and I was fortunate to have spent my four days there with a truly wonderful set of climbers. Those lucky dogs are all back at Sandrock this weekend for a repeat visit, and I have full faith that they are all crushing routes and having a great adventure.


Greetings from Diablo Canyon, New Mexico

I haven’t traveled to New Mexico since the summer my family moved back to Miami, FL from San Jose, CA – but lucky for you, a fellow climber from Tallahassee Rock Gym recently took a beautiful trip to the Diablo Canyon area of New Mexico and snapped plenty of photos to share.


During my last visit to New Mexico, I knew nothing of climbing. I spent my travels visiting UFO museums and stealing rocks from construction sites with my family. If only I had known!

The images that Adam captured during his road trip throughout the central region of New Mexico illustrate the beautiful landscapes and outrageous rock formations that litter canyons and desert terrain. The climbing in this area offers basalt rock, primarily trad and sport routes.


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