All told, Texas has more than 1,100 springs. Some of them are the big, charismatic gushers that draw in swimmers and tubers from miles around. But many of them are tiny little things, carefully hidden away in the folds of the land.
I found Jones Springs on a seven-mile stretch of trail in Pedernales State Park. Shade is a rare thing in that scrubby escarpment of juniper and cedar. Water, too: downstream of the Pedernales Falls, stranded boat docks stand sheepishly on now-dry land.
But in the midst of this unrelenting sun, surrounded by miles of unchecked dryness, flowed this tiny rivulet of spring water, as clear and cold as can be. Not far away at all stood the remains of a settler’s home, every stone laid there a testament to unfailing waters in an inconstant landscape. I wondered if the settlers who built this house had sat as we did on the banks of this tiny pool, backs against this stone ledge. And if, even after having yielded this bleached and desiccated land, they still felt the satisfaction of having watched dragonflies the reddest of all reds.
Pedernales State Park lies 35 miles west of Austin in Blanco County. Entry is $5 a person. If you’re hiking in the summer, bring water. Lots of it.