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This Cave Trail In Texas Offers A Thrilling Hike With Breathtaking Views

There aren’t many hiking trails out there that offer scenic views and lead you to a breathtaking cave.

But there is one in Texas!

Although it’s located in one of the state’s most popular parks, still relatively few people know that this cave exists.

There’s nothing quite like stepping into a mystic cave that feels like another planet.

It’s a relatively short hike, just 1.5 hours in total, so it’s perfect for the whole family.

And as few people know about it, it’s usually pretty quiet (usually empty) which makes the whole thing even more enjoyable.

This secret is none other than the enchanting Crystal Cave, located within the beautiful Garner State Park. 

Crystal Cave at Garner State Park

Garner State Park, Texas

Located in the beautiful Garner State Park, Crystal Cave offers an exciting adventure for those who love to explore. 

Given that Garner State Park covers over 1,420 acres of land, it’s no wonder most people have never heard of Crystal Cave.

It’s a gorgeous natural wonder located 30-ft below the ground, glimmering with crystals which is where the name comes from.

To reach this hidden cave, you’ll need to take on a rewarding hike through the park’s picturesque landscapes. 

The trail forms a loop which is great as you’ll get to see more of the park’s beauty without any repetition.

The journey isn’t just about reaching the cave but also about enjoying the nature around you as you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Frio River and the lush Texas Hill Country.

mlhradio / Flickr

The hike to Crystal Cave is rated as moderate so is do-able for most people. 

This makes it a great choice for families with kids.

It’s a 2.8 mile hike that takes you up some rocky paths and steep sections so good hiking shoes are a must. 

As you climb, you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of nature, from the rustling leaves to the chirping birds.

It really does feel like an adventure!

mlhradio / Flickr

As you walk along the trail, you’re likely to spot seashell fossils that are over 100 million years old!

Once you reach Crystal Cave, you’ll find that it is smaller than some of Texas’s more famous caverns, but it’s no less fascinating. 

The cave entrance is a narrow opening that leads into a cool, dimly lit interior. 

Inside, the cave is covered with beautiful formations of rocks and crystals that twinkle in the light of your flashlight. 

mlhradio / Flickr

The air is cool and damp which offers a refreshing break from the Texas heat outside.

This cave is a self-guided exploration spot which means you can take your time admiring the natural beauty of the crystals and rock structures. 

It’s a magical experience and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world, hidden away beneath the park’s rugged terrain.

The Hike

mlhradio / Flickr

This hike itself is 2.8 miles long (4.5km) which takes most people around 1 hour and 24 minutes to complete.

The journey to Crystal Cave is an adventure that starts on the Foshee Trail which is one of Garner State Park’s most popular hiking paths. 

The trailhead is easy to find as it’s located near the park’s main pavilion and is well-marked to guide hikers on their way.

As you begin your hike on the Foshee Trail, you’ll notice the path is a mix of compact dirt and scattered rocks, winding through dense greenery and towering trees. 

mlhradio / Flickr

The trail gently slopes upward and as you climb, you’ll see the landscape change.

It offers beautiful views of the surrounding hills and the distant Frio River. 

You’ll probably also be able to hear the sounds of wildlife all around you, with birds singing and the occasional rustle of small animals in the bushes.

mlhradio / Flickr

After a short walk, you’ll reach a junction where the Foshee Trail meets the Old Horse Trail. 

Here, you should turn onto Old Horse Trail which will lead you directly to Crystal Cave. 

This part of the trail gets a bit steeper and rockier so watch your step. 

The path narrows as it curves around the hillside and you’ll need to navigate some larger rocks and roots that criss-cross the trail.

The trail ends at a small clearing where you’ll find the entrance to Crystal Cave. 

It’s hidden just out of sight until you’re nearly literally right in front of it. The cave entrance is just a modest opening in the rock face.

The Cave

mlhradio / Flickr

Crystal Cave is a hidden underground marvel that offers a glimpse into a mysterious world 30-feet beneath the ground. 

It’s literally millions of years old!

As you enter the cave, the first thing you’ll notice is the cool air. It’s a refreshing contrast to the Texas heat outside.

The cave’s entrance is relatively small and some visitors may need to duck as they go in but it opens up inside, allowing more room to explore.

Adam Baker / Flickr

The inside of Crystal Cave is a wonderland of natural rock formations. 

The walls glisten with small crystals and minerals that sparkle when caught by the beam of a flashlight. 

Pro Tip: Hold your flashlight right up against the rock and watch as the rock begins to glow!

As you move further into the cave, you’ll see various types of formations.

If you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot bats sleeping inside the cave! It’s an incredible sight.

The cave floor can be damp and slippery so it’s important to watch your step. 

The area inside Crystal Cave is not paved.

It’s just a natural floor made from compacted earth and small rocks so be careful.

Unfortunately, you may see some graffiti on the walls of the cave which is a shame.

Nathan Huth / Flickr

The cave is not very large, which means you can explore its entirety in about 10 minutes.

You could easily spend longer here though!

Lighting in the cave is minimal as there are no artificial lights installed.

This preserves the cave’s natural state and minimizes impact on the environment. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to bring along a flashlight or a headlamp so that you can see the cave in all its glory.

While Crystal Cave may not be as big as some other famous caves, its intimate and natural setting makes it truly unique.

It’s a quiet spot where the only sounds you’ll hear are the rustling of leaves outside and the quiet echoes of other visitors. 

Know Before You Go

Before you set off to explore Crystal Cave at Garner State Park, here are some important things to keep in mind to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience:

Fees and Opening Times

Garner State Park is open year-round from 8am until 10pm.

It does occasionally close on certain holidays so it’s best to check the official Texas State Parks website or call ahead to confirm the park’s opening hours on the day you plan to visit. 

There is an entrance fee to the park which is currently $8 per person for the day for adults, while children 12 and under are free. 

This fee helps with the maintenance of the park and its facilities.


There is ample parking available near the park’s visitor center and main pavilion. 

From here, the trailheads to Crystal Cave are easily accessible. 

On busy weekends and holidays, it’s a good idea to arrive early to secure a parking spot as the park can get quite crowded.


Pets are welcome in Garner State Park but must be kept on a leash at all times. 

However, pets are not allowed inside Crystal Cave so if you plan to explore the cave, make sure to have someone who can watch your pet outside or consider leaving your pet at home.


Garner State Park is well-equipped with various facilities.

These include restrooms, picnic areas, playgrounds and a visitor center where you can get more information about the park and its trails. 

There are also camping options available if you wish to stay overnight.

These range from tent sites to cabins, though it’s recommended to book these in advance, especially during peak season.

Safety and Preparation

When planning your hike to Crystal Cave, it’s important to wear appropriate footwear such as sturdy hiking shoes and to carry enough water, especially in the summer months. 

The trails can be rocky and uneven so walking sticks can help. 

Since the cave is naturally cool, a light jacket might be needed for comfort inside the cave. 

Don’t forget to bring a reliable flashlight or headlamp to explore the cave as there are no lights inside.


Remember that Crystal Cave is a natural and protected area. 

It’s important to follow the “Leave No Trace” principles which include not touching the formations, staying on the marked paths and taking all your trash with you when you leave.

This will help preserve the beauty and integrity of the cave for future generations to enjoy.

By keeping these tips in mind and preparing accordingly, your visit to Crystal Cave and Garner State Park will surely be a memorable adventure!

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Tom Jackson

Tom was born in San Antonio but spent most of his childhood in Dallas, he has lived in several cities across Texas and joined the team in 2024 to create travel guides on Texas.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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