Dip a toe into the blue-green eddies of the Frio River and prepare for the chill that is sure to ripple your leg. The cool Frio (frío is Spanish for “cold”) meanders 200 miles through the hill country, attracting tubers, paddlers, swimmers, and rope jumpers. It passes through Garner State Park, where hikers climb the rocky trail up Old Baldy for a look at falcons and past the cabin-lined shores in Concan. As the river unwinds, it curls around the gnarled knees of towering bald cypress trees.
Swimming hole connoisseurs like Heidi Armstrong, a resident of Austin, flock to the Frio for relief when the heat rises. Armstrong booked a cabin in Concan that spring, and when she wasn’t swimming she was sitting on a boulder in the middle of the stream knitting.
“So much more than other rivers, it’s a big and strong embrace from nature,” says Armstrong. “There are these huge bald cypress trees lining them and I look at them and think, ‘What do you know, what have you been through, what have you seen? ‘I feel like I’m swimming in a river that is lined with wise old souls. “
These trees lean over the swimming area in the park and watch the families who have been coming here for generations. Facial covering is highly recommended under COVID-19 restrictions. Also, no groups of more than five people are allowed, with the exception of families or people living in the same household. The 6 foot rule applies to people outside of your group. (For full and current restrictions, see the TPWD website.)
The frio is a cold compress that heals the burn on a scalding day. Everywhere on the waterway, lime-colored leaves filter the light, boulders warm your shoulders in the sunshine and the deep green pools beckon. The cold may come in like a jolt, but you will feel revived from the jump.
Frio River in Garner State Park, 234 RR 1050, Concan. 830-232-6132; tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/garner
This article first appeared on Texas Highways. Click here to view the article in its original format.
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