Colorado Bend State Park This park in San Saba County has 5,000 acres with six miles of scenic Colorado River frontage. It used to be called Lemmons Fishing Camp before it was sold to the state. Besides swimming, fishing, tubing, and canoeing in the river, there are two spring-fed creeks which form incredible swimming holes. The park also boasts beautiful Gorman Falls and a cave to explore by tour. The campground is relatively primitive for a state park, but has water and toilets. Accessible from Lampasas or Llano, it’s worth the long drive. Open year-round except hunting season. A great tube or canoe ride runs from the settlement of Bend to the park. 915/628-3240.
Largest and northernmost of the Highland Lakes, the lake covers 23,060 acres, is 32 miles long and eight miles wide, with plenty of room for sailing, skiing, and other water sports. The first of the Highland Lakes, the 11,200-foot-long dam was completed in 1938.
Cedar Point Park A popular place to spot bald eagles from November to March. North of TX29 off FM2241 on the northwest end of the lake just before Paradise Point. LCRA.
Burnet Park On the east side of the lake, take TX29 to FM690 north. Has a boat ramp and picnic area. No camping. Burnet County.
Black Rock Park LCRA park, four miles north of TX29 on TX261. It has restrooms, camping, a boat ramp, and playground. Fee.
Llano County Park Next to Black Rock Park, it has few facilities, but is free.
Burnet County Park On the east side of the lake, the heavily wooded park is used mainly by fishermen. Take FM2341 about 11 miles north off TX29. It has a picnic area and free primitive camping. Burnet County.
Buchanan Dam When it opened, this 11,000-foot-long dam was the longest in the world. On TX29 between Burnet and Llano, a walkway halfway across the top of the dam 150 feet above the riverbed is open to the public. There is also a visitor center, museum, post office, picnic area, observation deck, and small swimming beach at the dam on TX29 west of Burnet. 512/793-2803.
One of the smallest of the Highland Lakes, Inks Lake is three miles long and covers 803 acres. The lake offers excellent year-round fishing.
Rock-A-Way Park Private campground on the west side of the lake at TX29. It has a dock and boat ramp. A large cliff shades the campground from the afternoon sun and it is possible to tie up a boat at the bank. Next door to Catfish Barge, a great cafe. Fee. 254/793-2314.
Inks Lake State Park “Devil’s Hole,” at the northeast corner of the lake where a creek empties into it, is one of the most scenic swimming holes in the state. The creek cascades over stairstep levels to the lake where it empties into a small canyon walled in by pink granite cliffs. Don’t overlook the other coves on the lake with more gentle, sloping, granite banks. West of Burnet off TX29, the park has shelters, camping, showers, restrooms, boat rental, a grocery store (seasonal), a boat ramp, and fishing piers. 512/793-2223. Fee.
The Llano Slab One of the great swimming holes in Central Texas, where the Llano River runs over granite outcroppings at a low-water crossing. The water creates a sandbar island, troughs, deep pools, and wide shallows. No facilities. At the end of FM3404, about 1.5 miles off FM1431 on the western edge of Kingsland.
Robinson Park Llano’s city park is on the riverbank with lots of shade and swimming spots. A low dam crosses the river, making for a great play area. The park also has fishing, a playground, golf course, restrooms, showers, a swimming pool, and 100 RV spots. Use is free if you don’t use electric hookups. Take the road on the north side of the courthouse west to the park. 915/247-4158.
Most of the shoreline is privately owned, making access to this pristine and narrow lake difficult. Originally called Granite Shoals Lake, the 6,375-acre, 22-mile-long lake is rated excellent for fishing.
Cottonwood Resource Area At Wirtz Dam, this is mainly a boat ramp and observation area. It is the only public boat ramp on the southeast side of lake. Access to the swimming and fishing area below the dam should be allowed later this summer after they complete work on the dam. From US281 at the south end of the bridge over Lake Marble Falls take FM2147 to Wirtz Dam Road. LCRA.
Lake Marble Falls
Small 780-acre impoundment with most of the six miles of Colorado River within the city of Marble Falls. The lake inundated the falls that gave the city its name. Popular for fishing and boating, most of the shoreline is steep cliffs and inaccessible.
Marble Falls City Parks The city operates three parks next to each other on the north shore of the lake west of US281. Lake Side Park has a swimming pool and picnic tables, but a steep bank into the water. Johnson Park has a playground, ball fields, an amphitheater, a horseshoe pitching club, and a picnic area with swimming near the boat ramp. Falls Creek Park is mainly a picnic park, but swimming is allowed in the creek next to the boat ramp.
Max Starke Dam Just below the dam are flat rocks and a steady flow of water popular with fishermen, but not a bad swimming hole. Watch out for a sudden increase of release from the dam. Very steep climb down to the water. No facilities. Follow the signs to the dam off of US281 south of town.
The most popular of the Highland Lakes that stair-step up the Colorado River from Austin. The lake winds through steep, scenic hills for 65 miles with 270 miles of shoreline. At its widest point it is 4.5 miles across and 190 feet at its deepest at Mansfield Dam.
The lake is formed by Mansfield Dam on FM620. Built in 1941, the dam took 1.75 million cubic yards of concrete to build it up to 266 feet tall and more than a mile long with 24 floodgates, making it one of the largest masonry structures in the world.
The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has eight primitive recreation areas on the upper end of Lake Travis. When the land along the river was purchased from landowners, they quite often sold full parcels rather than small sections of river frontage. This gave the public large areas of former pasture land that has now been opened as parks.
Four of the primitive parks require daily permits of $3 per day per vehicle and can be purchased at the honor boxes at the park entrance. By and large you get a nicer, cleaner park for the money. Annual passes may be purchased at the LCRA, 3701 Lake Austin Blvd., or through the mail. For information on the LCRA parks, call the Parks, Lands, and Conservation Department at 473-4083 or 800/776-5272, Ext.4083 or http://www.lcra.org.
LCRA day use parks are open from April 15 thru September 15 from 6am to 10pm and September 15 thru April 14 from sunrise to sunset.
Travis County also operates several parks around the lake; their number is 473-9437.
Camp Creek Primitive Area This park is 600 acres off of FM1431 at the end of County Road 343 on the north side of the lake. It covers a small area, but has good swimming spots. It also has a creek running through the campground. The park features a hiking trail, boat ramp, tables, grills, and toilets.
Shaffer Bend Primitive Area Off of FM1431 on north side of the lake, take County Road 343A to the end of the road and make a hard right. The park has a scenic view of the river valley, lots of waterfront acreage with a low, gradual shoreline, and allows camping.
Narrows Primitive Area This LCRA natural area is open for day use only, on the south side of Lake Travis. Vehicles are required to stay on designated roads and parking areas. Off TX71 follow FM410/411 through Spicewood. Has a boat ramp that is open 24 hours.
Krause Springs A beautiful private park chosen as one of the best swimming holes in Texas by Texas Monthly. It has a spring-fed swimming pool, waterfall, creek swimming area, camping, restrooms, and showers. Take TX71 west to Hollingsworth Center (Spur 191) to Spicewood. Make a right at the four-way stop in Spicewood. Fee. 830/693-4181
Grelle Primitive Area A hiking trail winds around this 400-acre park. The park is on the south side of the lake; from TX71 take Spur 191 into Spicewood, make a right on County Road 412, and follow it about a mile past Krause Springs. The park has a nice, low shoreline with lots of open spaces, shaded camping spots, and restrooms. Fee.
Turkey Bend (East) Primitive Area An equestrian/ hiking trail winds over 400 acres, and it also has toilets and fire rings. At the Burnet/Travis County line on the north side of the lake off of FM1431 at the end of Shaw Drive (a beautiful drive in itself). Fee.
Muleshoe Bend Primitive Area In a bend in the river that looks like a muleshoe, this is the largest of the primitive parks. From TX71 turn on Paleface Ranch Road, then take FM404, turn at FM414 (at the sign for Country Music Miniature Donkeys). The park has lots of low shoreline and shaded camping areas, but it seems like a lot of the trash in the lake washes up here. It has toilets. Fee.
Gloster Bend Primitive Area Off FM1431 at the end of Singleton Road on the north side of Lake Travis about six miles west of Lago Vista, this LCRA recreation area is limited to daytime hours and vehicles must stay on designated roads and parking areas. Nice swimming areas, but you have to carry everything from the parking lot to the water. Boat ramp is open 24 hours. Fee.
Pace Bend Park (Paleface Park) With more than 1,300 acres and nine miles of shoreline, this park off TX71 at the end of FM2322 is one of the most popular swimming holes in Travis County, especially for its cliffs, overhangs, and coves on the west side of the four-mile-long peninsula. The eastern shore is more of a gentle slope. Twenty-two named coves with picnic facilities make it a favorite meeting place for large and small groups. Paleface has restrooms, drinking water, boat ramps, camping, a playground, and a jet ski course (seasonal). The one-mile center strip of the park is a wildlife preserve with hiking trails. Travis County operated. 264-1482. Fee.
Camp Chautauqua A former recreation area for Air Force personnel at Bergstrom at the entrance to Pace Bend Park, it is now leased to nonprofit groups by the county as a campground. It still has lots of recreation facilities, a boat ramp, fishing pier, and meeting shelters. Swimming is available from the rocky shore. Fee. 264-1752.
Dink Pearson Park At the end of Lohmann’s Crossing Road off of FM1431. A great place to swim, but often crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. The park has picnic tables, a boat ramp, and restrooms. Last few miles of winding road to park offers panoramic view of the lake, but it’s no place to be if you’ve been drinking too much or you’re in a hurry. Day use only. Travis County Park. Fee.
Arkansas Bend Park Take Lohmann Crossing Road from Jonestown (FM1431) to Sylvester Ford Road. A nice park with two big coves with lots of cliffs and secluded spots. Arkansas Bend has a boat ramp, restrooms, camping, hiking trails, and picnic tables. Travis County Park. Fee.
Sandy Creek Park This park was built on rocky cliffs overlooking the lake. It has a boat ramp, restrooms, camping, drinking water, picnic tables, and hiking trails. On FM2769 just north of Volente. Travis County Park. Fee.
Volente Beach Club This restaurant has a beach and volleyball theme four miles from the intersection of FM2222 and FM2769, and includes three sand volleyball courts, a swimming area, marina, outdoor shower, and great sunset. Coolers allowed, but no outside alcohol allowed in. Day use. Fee. 258-9993.
Cypress Creek Park At the intersection of FM2222 and FM2769 (go west until FM2222 ends). This park is one of the first to be affected by low lake levels. There are separate areas for day use and camping, and the park has a boat ramp, restrooms, and picnic tables. Travis County Park. Fee.
Bob Wentz Park at Windy Point At the end of Comanche Trail off FM620. The lake level determines how big this park is. The popular sailing area features camping, restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, nature trails, showers, a boat ramp (restricted to sailing craft) and sailboat rental (seasonal). 266-2544 or 266-3857. Travis County Park. Day use only. Pets not allowed on point swimming area. Fee.
Windy Point Park This privately owned park caters to scuba divers with a more than 100-foot dropoff with artwork on the bottom. The campground has showers and water. Next door to Bob Wentz Park at the end of Comanche Tr. 266-3337.
Hippie Hollow (McGregor Park) This is the only clothing-optional beach in the state. Its rock ledges are great places to sunbathe and picnic, and it has restrooms and hiking trails. Take FM620 to Comanche Trail and follow around to the park. Travis County Park. Must be 18 years old or older to enter. Day use only. Pets are not allowed. Fee.
Tom Hughes Park Turn off FM620 on Marshall Ford Road to Park Road, which winds to the park on the south end of Mansfield Dam. There is a steep climb to the water. Restrooms are available. Travis County Park. Day use only. Pets are not allowed. Fee.
Mansfield Dam On the south or west end of the dam off FM620 (depending on how you look at it). The water tends to be a little colder here because it is deepest near the dam. This area is popular with scuba divers. The park allows camping and has restrooms, picnic tables, drinking water, a boat ramp, and nature trails. Walk across the dam from the observation area. Travis County Park. Fee.
Constant level lake with colder than usual water. The 1,830-acre Lower Colorado River Authority lake meanders 20 miles up the Colorado River from Austin and Tom Miller Dam.
Fritz Hughes Park Just below Mansfield Dam, take Low Water Crossing Road off FM620 and go left at the “Y” in the road on Fritz Hughes Park Road. Fritz Hughes has a playground and nice picnic area, but not a great swimming area. If you go straight at the “Y” you get to the old low water crossing where the water is usually running pretty swift, and is more popular with fishermen than swimmers. Day use only. Travis County Park.
Selma Hughes Park Take FM620 to Quinlan Park Road below Mansfield Dam. Selma Hughes has restrooms and picnic tables. It’s a small park, but scenic, with a nice, sandy lake bottom and plenty of shade trees. Day use only. Travis County Park.
Mary Quinlan Park Take FM620 to Quinlan Park Road. Quinlan has a boat ramp, restrooms, and little else. Day use only. Travis County Park.
City Park (Metropolitan Park or Emma Long Park) Off FM2222 just west of Loop 360. It’s a great place, but crowded every weekend during swimming season. The park features camping, restrooms, cold showers, a playground, hike and bike trails, and boat ramp. Three miles of winding shoreline make it a popular place for fast boats. Fee.
Percy Pennybacker Bridge (Loop 360 Bridge or Bull Creek Park) Under the south end of the bridge over the lake. The bridge has a nice boat ramp and dock. Primarily a parking lot for boat trailers, but a great place to go skinny-dipping late at night.
Westlake Beach This privately owned park has a shaded picnic area, marina, concession stand, diving platform, playground, showers, and beach and water volleyball. Great place for family reunions or birthday parties. From Tom Miller Dam off Lake Austin Boulevard, take Red Bud Lane to a right on West Lake Drive and follow it around to park. Day use only. Fee. 2509 Westlake Dr. 327-9004.
Bull Creek District Park An often overlooked greenbelt, Bull Creek in North Austin is one of the nicest parks outside of the central city area. An alcohol-free park. Access to the creek is from a hike and bike trail that follows much of its winding course. The park is between FM2222 and Spicewood Springs Road along US360, and the main entrance is off FM2222 at the end of Lakewood Drive. Day use.
Barton Creek is part of the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone and the most beautiful urban natural area in the U.S. Access points to the creek are at Zilker Park, Loop 360 east of Loop 1, Barton Skyway at Spyglass, Gus Fruth Park on Barton Hills Drive, Camp Craft Road at the end of Westbank Drive, and Loop 1 south of Loop 360. Greenbelt and parks are alcohol-free areas. There are several popular spots on the creek, but these are the most popular.
Barton Springs Pool In Zilker Park, this gorgeous swimming hole is one of the top 10 tourist attractions in Austin. The spring-fed water is a consistent 68 degrees year-round. Showers, restrooms, a snack bar, playground, picnic tables, and canoe rental are available. Fee.
Campbell’s Hole About a mile upstream from Barton Springs Pool on Barton Creek Greenbelt. Also accessible from Spyglass Road. It’s a wonderful location with a deep pool that has water most of the year and small rapids upstream when the creek is running. It used to give visitors the illusion of being lost in the country, but now the cliffs are capped with condos.
Gus Fruth Park One of the best parks and swimming holes on the Barton Creek Greenbelt, it has white water around big boulders and deep pools. It’s accessible by a rough, steep climb from Barton Hills Drive or a long walk on the greenbelt hike and bike path.
Twin Falls Two small waterfalls here empty into a small pool. It’s a better place to watch people than to swim. Accessible from the entrance off the access road Loop 1 just south of Loop 360.
Camp Ben McCulloch Park Bought by the United Confederate Veterans in 1904 as a reunion campground, the camp is located 22 miles from Austin near Driftwood. Take TX290 south to FM1826. It’s a beautiful, shaded park, but inconsiderate users have made litter a real problem. Camping is allowed in unmarked sites along Onion Creek. The Salt Lick Barbecue is across the road from the park entrance.
Reimer’s Ranch Eleven miles from TX71 at 23610 Hamilton Pool Rd. and a mile before you get to Hamilton Pool Preserve. Closed Mon. & Tues., open Wed.-Sun., 7am-dark. Beautiful county park with shallow rapids and deep pools – fee
Hamilton Pool Preserve One of the most beautiful public parks in the county. Acquired by Travis County in 1985, the site has been a popular spring-fed swimming hole since the early 1900s. The property was once owned by the brother of the 10th governor of Texas and by the Reimer family (see above). The pool is in a box canyon fed by a 45-foot waterfall with a sandy beach and giant boulders. A nature trail follows Hamilton Creek about a mile to the Pedernales River. Open 9am-6pm every day, no one admitted into the park after 5:30pm (hiking trails are open year-round); admission is limited to 100 people. Water quality is carefully monitored and swimming is not allowed if bacteria count from nesting bird droppings is too high. From TX71 West turn left at Hamilton Pool Rd. (FM3238) and go 13 miles to the park. No glass, fishing, cooking, or pets are allowed in the park. It is best to call ahead before making the trip, 264-2740. Fee.
Pedernales Falls State Park About 30 miles south of Austin off TX290. Pedernales contains white water over a gradual slope and deep, slow-moving pools at the bottom of the “falls.” Access to the river from the parking lot is a rugged, steep climb. The park offers camping, showers, restrooms, hookups, and hiking trails. 830/868-7304. Fee.
Blanco State Recreation Area Small dams make this park a scenic wonderland on the usually shallow Blanco River. It offers camping, picnicking, fishing, restrooms, showers, and paddleboats. It’s an ideal stop on a day trip to the historic area. One mile south of the old Blanco courthouse on US281. 830/833-4551. Fee.
The Blanco River cuts through this tiny hamlet 45 minutes south of Austin on FM12. The shops and art galleries are great destinations for a day trip through the Hill Country. Quaint restaurants offer German and American food. On the first weekend of the month a huge flea market is held west of town on FM2325.
Blue Hole This swimming hole, on a heavily wooded creek that empties into the Blanco River, was first built by the Army in 1941 to provide R&R for soldiers from San Antonio. Because of its popularity and costs, the owners now charge a “membership” fee plus an admission fee for day use and overnight camping. Northeast of Wimberley off FM3237 past the church and cemetery. 512/847-9127.
Old Hwy. 12 Bridge A favorite of locals, it’s the old bridge over the Blanco River, east of Wimberley on the first left past the river. Now closed to vehicular traffic, parking is at a premium in the area on weekends. Beware of private property.
Little Arkansas A beautiful stretch of the Blanco River, the name refers to its “backwoods” setting. Little Arkansas is isolated by steep hills, canyon bluffs, and guarded by vertical canyon walls. From FM3237 east of Wimberley take Flight Acres Road (CR173) several miles through residential areas, turn onto CR174 and cross the Blanco River and follow it several miles (even after it turns into a dirt road), crossing the river three times to the campground. Fee.
The San Marcos River, selected by river guides as one of the most beautiful rivers in the state, originates in San Marcos at Aquarena Springs and joins the Blanco River east of town. Tubing on the river in town is often crowded, but exciting. Out of town, a canoe is recommended because of the distance between access points, which are limited to two public sites and where the Farm-to-Market roads cross the river. The narrow river channel is often obstructed with small dams and old mills. The banks are generally steep, muddy, and heavily vegetated. An annual canoe race ñ the Texas Water Safari, from San Marcos to the coast ñ is held in June and is touted as “the toughest canoe race in the world.”
Five Mile Dam North of San Marcos on the Blanco River. Take the Yarington Road exit from I-35 just south of Kyle. Follow access road to “Y” in the road and take the right (FM2779). The park is the first left. Boating is available above the dam, waking below. Show only your best friends this spot. Day use only. Hays County Park.
The Falls Swimming is permitted in the small park below Joe’s Crab Shack, but parking can be a real problem. Remember to wait 30 minutes between eating and swimming. At Aquarena Springs Drive and Sessom Drive Day use only.
Sewell Park Take the Aquarena Springs Drive exit off I-35 west to Sessom Drive. This is San Marcos’ Barton Springs Pool, under the control of Southwest Texas State University, and a good place to watch scantily clad college students. Technically, the park is limited to those with SWT affiliations. Day use only.
City Park Take the Aquarena Springs Drive exit from I-35 west to the light at the left turn before Strahan Coliseum, take a right before the railroad tracks, and follow the signs behind the coliseum. Great place to start a tube trip on the San Marcos River. Has tube rental and shuttle service. Day use only.
Rio Vista Park Take Aquarena Springs Drive east from I-35 until it becomes C.M. Allen Parkway. Follow the parkway to the park entrance on the left. Rio Vista has picnic tables and restrooms. Day use only.
Cheatham Street Dam The opposite bank from the dam in Rio Vista Park. There is an unloading zone at the curb; park your car across the street or in Rio Vista Park. This is a great place to watch the Texas Water Safari canoes go over the dam, or to shoot it yourself in a tube. From I-35 take Hopkins to a left (south) on Cheatham, and follow to the river. Day use only.
McAllister Park Site of an old Girl Scout Camp. West of I-35 off C.M. Allen Parkway. McAllister has a nice wooded area with the river winding through it, picnic areas, and muddy banks. Park your car behind the ballfields at I-35 and C.M. Allen, in the parking lot across from the Cheatham Street Dam or under I-35 from the access road. Day use only.
Pecan Park Retreat Take I-35 to TX80 east 1.8 miles to County Road 101, make a right and the first left onto County Road 102 and follow to the gate. Check in at the house to the right of the gate before entering. This is a working pecan orchard that doubles as a campground. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the camp. Great swimming is available, and this is a great place to start or end a canoe trip. Owner Tom Goynes is a river rat from way back and is a great source of information on river conditions. Fee. 512/392-6171.
Shady Grove Campgrounds & Spencer’s Canoe Livery Take I-35 to TX80, then east to a right on to FM1979 at Martindale. Amenities include riverfront camping, canoe and tube rental, showers, restrooms, and store. Sponsors of the annual Texas Water Safari canoe race from San Marcos to the coast. Fee. 512/357-6113
Leisure Camp A private camp southeast of San Marcos off of I-35 on TX80 in the village of Fentress. On the San Marcos River in an old pecan grove, the campground has fishing, hook-ups, a playground, restrooms, showers, and a small store that stocks essentials. It also has a meeting room with a kitchen and group pavilion. Reservations recommended during the summer months. Fee. 512/488-2563.
An old German town 48 miles south of Austin on I-35, New Braunfels was settled at the confluence of the Comal and Guadalupe rivers. The Corps of Engineers added Canyon Lake west of town, and the area became the water sports capital of Central Texas. The Comal River is completely contained within the city limits and is on record as the second shortest river in the world. North and east of town, the Guadalupe River hasbecome one of the greatest water recreation areas in the state, second only to the Texas Coast.
Old Mill Stream This tube concessionaire claims to have “the longest tube ride on the Comal River.” Start from the stand below the bridge at the entrance to Landa Park and Landa Street west of downtown. Fee.
Landa Park (Hinman Island) This city park containing a large portion of the Comal River was a private recreation area from 1896 to 1936. Picnicking, playgrounds, and golf are available. Portions of the 196-acre park are closed to auto traffic on weekends. Wade in the shallow channels near Comal Springs, the headwaters of the river (free), or swim in the spring-fed 1.5 million-gallon pool or Olympic-size pool (fee) behind Wurstfest Halle. Enter the park off Landa Street west of the traffic circle around Main Plaza. Day use only.
Prince Solms Park This is the city’s main swimming spot, named for the town’s founding father. Solms has a great tube chute through an old mill race on the Comal River. Tubes are for rent from nearby concessions. Take the Seguin Avenue exit west off I-35, right on San Antonio Street, left on Liberty to the park entrance. Part of Landa Park. Fee. A free swimming area is above the mill race with picnic tables and sidewalk-lined bank. Day use only.
Cypress Bend Park On the Guadalupe River at the end of Peace Avenue, a few blocks off Common Street across from the fair grounds and behind the cemetery. This is a nice, shaded park with picnicking, swimming areas, and playgrounds. Day use only.
Schlitterbahn North of downtown, off of San Antonio Street then follow the signs. This water amusement park is fed by the Comal River with two areas, and includes tube chutes, hot tubs, refreshments, and swimming pools. This is the river ride without nature. Bring picnic baskets and ice chests; don’t bring glass containers and alcoholic beverages. Open weekends Apr. 25-May 10 and daily May 16-Aug. 23, 1998. Fee. 830/625-2351.
River Road This 20-mile stretch of scenic, winding country road following the Guadalupe River is probably the most popular tubing and canoeing area in the state. There are ample free places to launch tubes, canoes, or just swim, but parking is at a premium and beware of private property. Concessionaires along the river will rent or sell almost anything and are worth paying for the shuttle or guide service. The river flow rate through the area is available from the Corps of Engineers’ hotline, 830/964-3342 (200-400csf is the best for canoeing). From I-35 take Loop 337 (TX46) west to the second stoplight after you cross the Guadalupe River and follow the road around to the river. Call the Chamber of Commerce for a list of outfitters and campgrounds, 800/572-2626.
This 8,240-acre Corps of Engineers-maintained lake northwest of New Braunfels offers seven parks on the lake. For information or camping reservations, call the Corps’ local headquarters at 830/964-3341. Parks on the lake are generally well-maintained and offer showers, water, restrooms, picnicking, a marina, camping, hook-ups, boat ramps, and other amenities furnished by local concessionaires. About an hour from Austin and 15 minutes from New Braunfels. The shortest route from Austin to the parks on the north side of the lake is from I-35 to FM12 through San Marcos to FM32 and south on FM3424 to FM306. To get to the parks on the south side of the lake from I-35 take FM306 to Sattler to FM2673.
Parks on the north side of the lake, accessible from FM306:
North Park North end of the dam. Campers only, no day use facilities. The swimming off of the banks is not bad. No pets allowed on the beaches. Fee.
Jacob’s Creek Park This day use park is open 7am to 9pm. The park has a large swimming beach and good water access from the rest of the park, and restrooms, a boat ramp, tables, and a sailing area. There is another swimming area near the boat ramp at the end of Old Hancock Road, the first right off the park road from FM306. Fee.
Canyon Park There is a swimming beach at the entrance open 9am-7pm during summer months. The park also has camping, a marina with a restaurant, a boat ramp, and a dump station. Fee.
Potter’s Creek Park This is a small swimming beach on a small peninsula with covered picnic tables. The park also has camping and a boat ramp. Potter’s Creek Store is at the park entrance off of FM306 at Canyon Lake (the town). This is one of the nicest parks on the lake. Fee.
Parks on the south side of the lake, accessible from FM2673:
Overlook Park Off South Access Road from Sattler at the south end of the dam; has a great view of the dam. Access to the water is by rough trails, but a nice swimming area is at the end of the dam, and there is a walking path across the top of the dam. Day use only.
Cranes Mill Park This is a primitive camping park at the end of FM2673 with an adjacent marina and fishing pier, with good swimming spots from the low bank. Fee.
Comal Park This very nice day use park has a beach, boat ramps, a playground, and restrooms. No pets in the beach area. Three miles off FM2673 at Startzville. Fee.
Guadalupe River State Park Opened in 1983, the 4,232-acre park was purchased for canoeists after a legislative delegation’s cars were towed from a low water crossing while they were canoeing the upper Guadalupe River. With just over a mile of river frontage, the park is not only a great place to swim, canoe, and tube, but it is also uncommonly beautiful even for this scenic area of the Hill Country. Off TX46, 37 miles west of New Braunfels, the park has three camping areas, trails, and a day use area with great swimming. The park includes the Honey Creek Natural Area which is open only for guided tours on Saturdays at 9am. Camping reservations should be made at 830/438-2656. For information on the park, call 389-8950.
Bastrop State Park From Austin take TX71 east to Bastrop and TX21 to park entrance east of town. Nestled among the “lost pines” of Texas, the park has a swimming pool, hiking trails, camping, and a golf course, and is a great place to camp or rent a cabin. The ponds in Bastrop and Buescher state parks are not open for swimming. 512/321-2101. Fee.
Built by the LCRA in 1965 as a 900-acre power plant cooling pond, the lake is popular for fishing and camping. Swimming is not bad, but most of the banks are muddy and the water is not really cold.
South Shore This park in the lost pines was remodeled in 1998. There is a nice beach in the day use area with a playground, boat ramp, volleyball court, and hiking trail. Camping sites are semi-secluded, many on the water’s edge. Take TX71 east to Bastrop and Loop 150 to TX21; the park is a mile past the state park. LCRA. Fee.
North Shore Take TX71 east to Bastrop, then north on TX95 to FM1441. There is a small swimming beach, a campground, small shelters, and RV hook-ups. The park is often dirty and noisy. Due to be closed and remodeled in 1999. LCRA. Fee.
On North Fork of San Gabriel River four miles west of I-35 at Georgetown via FM2338. The 1,310-acre lake is well-stocked with channel cat and smallmouth bass (record 5.88 lbs.). The Good Water Trail goes around the upper three-quarters of the lake. Annual passes are available from park headquarters. There is no central reservation system (due to come online in the Fall of 1998), so all park facilities are first-come, first-served.
Russell Park Russell has the best beach of the three parks on the Corps of Engineers’ lake west of Georgetown. Day use only. It has restrooms, showers, a boat ramp, and drinking water. No pets in beach area. Fee. From FM2338, take FM3405 and then County Road 262 to park.
Jim Hogg Park Also located on north side of the lake. There is no designated beach, but it has camping, drinking water, a boat ramp, showers, restrooms, and picnicking. The entrance to the park is off FM2338 west of Georgetown.
Cedar Breaks Park Similar to Jim Hogg Park (see above). It’s off FM2338 past the Corps of Engineers’ headquarters and across the dam on the south side of the lake.
The San Gabriel River crosses several county roads in the county and offers great secluded swimming holes, but beware of crossing private property and where you park your car.
Blue Hole Park Not to be confused with Blue Hole near Wimberley (see above), this park is on the San Gabriel River a few blocks north of the courthouse square in Georgetown. The north bank of the river is a sheer cliff; the south bank is a new park with picnic tables and port-a-potties. The city has really spruced up this scenic area, changing it from a makeshift hangout to a first-rate community park. The one-way road through the park offers a peek at the conditions and a small unloading zone. Parking is at the lot at Third and Rock Streets. No camping and no glass beverage bottles larger than a quart are allowed in the park. The small dam makes a great waterfall. From the courthouse take Austin Avenue (US81) north, turn left on Third St. just before the South San Gabriel River bridge and take a right on Rock Street.
Opened in 1981, the 4,400-acre Corps of Engineers’ lake on the San Gabriel River north of Taylor is primarily a fishing lake. Willis Creek Park offers camping and picnicking areas. Taylor Park has areas for camping and picnicking as well as a hiking trail. Swimming is allowed, but not encouraged at either park.
Friendship Park On the northeast end of the lake, from Granger and TX95 take FM971 east. The small day use park has picnic tables and a swimming beach.
Wilson H. Fox Park On the south side of the lake, from Centerville and TX95 take FM1331 east. Fox allows camping and has fishing docks, a picnic area, and a swimming beach.
Walter E. Long Lake (Decker Lake) A cooling pond for the power plant, the lake is nine miles east of Austin off Webberville Road. (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or FM969). Fishing is popular here and swimming is not, because of the muddy bottom, weeds, and ants. On July Fourth weekend when traffic was congested at Lake Travis, this park was full, but not crowded. A city-maintained park, it has a beach area, restrooms, and a boat ramp. Fee.
McKinney Falls State Park If you live in Austin, you should visit this park at least once a year. Your city polluted Onion Creek and made the stream uninhabitable for man and beast alike, and then spent millions to build new wastewater treatment plants to improve the water quality. The park also has camping, hiking trails, and summer cabins for rent. From Ben White Boulevard (TX71) east of I-35 take Burleson Road south to McKinney Falls Parkway. Fee.
Wave Pool The Seguin city pool in Max Starcke Park generates artificial waves every 15 minutes, and also has a wading pool. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day noon to 6pm. South of downtown on Austin Street. (Business TX123) Fee.
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