is located off a country road in a rural, acreage, residence subdivision about 9 miles northwest of Dripping Springs and about 30 miles west of Austin. San Antonio is about 70 miles to the south. The Pedernales river and Pedernales Falls State Park is just 7 miles away and a 15 mile scenic drive will take you to the pristine and natural geological formations of Westcave Preserve and Hamilton Pool.
With less than 11 acres, Tex-Zen Ranch displays all the rustic character of the central Texas Hill Country. The natural beauty and solitude of the grounds can be realized in multiple scenic venues on both sides of a branch of seasonal Sycamore Creek.
At the end of a cul-de-sac, guests pass under a pergola-type entrance in a corral-board fence near the highest elevation on the property (1100ft). Here you may be advised about the wild and rustic nature of the ranch and the hill country (Safety, Rules, and Terms of Visitation).
The paved entrance trail separates a sparsely wooded, gently sloping, rocky, grassland hillside from a stand of native post-oak, live oak, juniper(cedar), flame sumac, and escarpment cherry. In the spring and summer, the hillside may exhibit a surprising display of wildflowers, depending on the rainfall. We use this hillside for event parking.
Just down the main entrance trail a sign post points out the four paved, driveable "trails" on the property - the names being reminiscent of the ski trails at Bogus Basin, Idaho, where Jeff proposed to Loretta. Passing in front of the residence, "Cabin Traverse" trail leads to the 40' x 80' water barn built over the original weekend cabin and 20,000 gallon rainwater storage tank. From there, the abandoned and 4-wheel-drive-only "Upper Paradise" trail leads straight down the steep and rocky hillside toward Sycamore creek. Back at the sign post and turning westward through the trees, "Sunset Trail" takes you west of the residence toward the afternoon sun, which falls quietly into the Sycamore Creek valley in the summertime. Winding through the oaks, the trail falls gently before it clears on your left to the ''Cottage-of-Dreams'' bed and breakfast cottage and to your right a panorama of the valley and the creek bed nearly 80ft below. In the autumn, the Spanish oaks on the neighboring hillsides make a colorful display against the contrasting green of the junipers and oaks.
Halfway down the hillside and against the steep hillside ledge is the future site of the 2500-sq.ft. covered event pavilion and cozy guest lodge. The main parking area for small events also lies on this wide hillside ledge overlooking secluded Tex-Zen Hollow. During a wet spring, autumn, or winter, the clear waters of Sycamore creek can be heard rushing over the top of the dam at Tex-Zen Falls. Vignettes along the parking ledge and from the pavilion deck will provide a glimpse of the creek and Falls still 40ft below. From this point most visitors will proceed down "Lower Paradise" trail on foot into the hollow. Golf carts will shuttle our elderly or handicapped guests.
At the convergence of Sunset trail and Upper and Lower Paradise trails at the southeastern end of the parking ledge, you'll notice a small wooden raised platform and a wooden utility pole with a steel cable attached. This is the step-off platform for our ''Zipping 'n Dripping'' zip line adventure ride - the fastest way to the creek and rose garden!
"Lower Paradise" trail provides your first glimpse of Tex-Zen Bridge, Gazebo, and the mystical Tex-Zen "Marrying Rock". The slightly sloping trail hugs a rocky hillside before making a moderately steep turn under a canopy of Spanish oak, live oak and majestic cedar elms. Before the trail levels out again, the tranquil beauty of the park-like setting strikes you in the shade of the tall trees. In the summer, you might notice as much as an 8-degree cooling by the time you reach the hollow.
East of the trail lies the future site of the Vineyard Cottage, with a secluded yard separating it from over 200ft of vineyard rows trained with wild mustang grapevines. Just opposite the trail are the remains of a modest fruit tree orchard now containing just two varieties pear and an almond tree. In the trees above the trail and throughout the property, the wild mustang grapevines prevail.
Nestled ahead in the creek-side stand of live oak and cedar elm, is 14ft x 20ft Tex-Zen Gazebo. But even before starting down the wide, short, rock-paved steps to the gazebo your eyes are drawn through the escarpment cherries to the crystal clear reflecting pool above Tex-Zen Falls.
Before you enter the gazebo you've already spotted the "marrying rock" in the middle of the creek. Twenty-foot long Tex-Zen Bridge is just a few steps down the rock-paved walkway leading away from the gazebo. The sounds of falling water can be heard from beyond the reflecting pool. Bird feeders hang from tree limbs and a breeze wills the gentle tone of an iron wind chime.
Across the bridge, beyond the ancient creek-bed grotto, on a rocky creek-side slope, lies the Rose Garden. An ornamental metal garden gazebo provides the focal point and an arbor for the young red and white climbing roses. This is a high, open sunny area, just right for roses and for looking back over Tex-Zen and the rocky creek-bed below the dam. To the east of the Rose Garden, just partially hidden by the junipers is the landing ramp for the ''Zipping 'n Dripping'' zip line adventure and the future site for the Rose cottage/chapel, to be perched on the rocky slope overlooking Tex-Zen Bridge and Gazebo.
Heading back to toward the creek, a vague walking trail over the solid rock outcropping takes you around the perimeter ledge of the sunken creek-bed grotto and onto a peninsula between the grotto and active creek bed. A fissure in the rock reveals a pair of steps leading to a lower level of the peninsula, just above the water level of a second reflecting pool downstream from Tex-Zen Falls. We call this the Moon Pool. At night the moon is reflected in the calm waters of the pool. A series of four flat boulders make the "Walk Across the Moon Pool".
The creek bed here is scattered with boulders and sycamore trees. But there is a harmonious blend of the natural boulders with neatly fitted stones to make paths along the creek edge. There is a narrow path leading up a bank onto a semi-secluded perch within a circle of trees that yields an elevated view up and down the creek. There is another path that leads onto a paved island in the middle of the creek that lends an up-close view of the waterfalls.
A young cypress tree stands tall with a strong foothold at the base of the dam (Jeff and Loretta planted the seedling there when they purchased the property in 1988). Rock benches are strategically positioned to provide places to enjoy the sights and sounds of the creek and the wildlife.
Just up the sweeping bank from Tex-Zen Falls and against the steep hillside ledge is the aforementioned future site of the event lodge. One section of the facility will provide an enclosed kitchen, extra seating and restrooms. Another section will provide a two-bedroom, two bathroom suite including kitchenette and family room for our wedding couples or family guest lodging. The central section of the pavilion will be open for seating or dining. The entire roof will serve as a rainwater collection surface providing potable water for all event services and cottages. The site provides the best scenic overlook of Tex-Zen Falls and the Rose Garden.
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