There are so many reasons that we love Austin: dog friendly, constant live music, amazing eats and fantastic bar scene. All of those reasons, plus we are surrounded by the indescribable beauty of the Texas Hill Country and the Highland Lakes. Everyone complains about the Texas heat but access to these lakes makes that heat so much more bearable. So here are our picks for all the best lakes in the Hill Country.
Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake) separates south from north Austin. A loop of 10 miles is a runner’s paradise with tons of shade. It is also home to many kayak and paddle board activities. The best combo is a run first then follow it up with something on the water to cool off. People also love to take their dogs on walks here and then let them swim and play with other pups at Auditorium Shores.
Lake Austin is a bit colder because the water flow comes from the bottom of Lake Travis fed from Mansfield Dam. But when Austin is 110 plus degrees it makes it so much more delicious, so grab that swimsuit and get at it. Access can be from the popular location of Emma Long off 2222 and 360. Emma provides picnic areas, camping, courtesy docks, parking and restrooms. Commons Ford Park is located off Bee Caves, it has a 2 minute walk through Live Oaks and hiking trails surrounding it. Commons has picnic areas, courtesy dock, restrooms and a volleyball court. Oh, and there are tons of dogs so make sure you bring your BFF Fido.
Lake Travis is the “big” lake, spanning 64 miles. There are too many accessible points to list but if you’re willing to take a 45 minute drive, a favorite would be Pace Bend Park. Most of the Lake Travis access points come with fees, so Pace Bend is no exception but it’s only $10 per vehicle. Boating is the most popular activity (including jet skiing) and Pace Bend has two boat ramps. You can camp over night with 20 improved camping sites available, these include: water, electrical hookups and showers. Or if primitive is your jam, there’s 400 to choose from. And yes, Pace Bend is that big!
Lake Lyndon B. Johnson or Lake LBJ is another reservoir on the Colorado River, located about 45 mins from Austin. Most of Lake LBJ is privately owned but you can get your swank on at Horseshoe Bay Resort. This resort is an upscale lodging with 7000 acres, featuring golf, tennis, dining and a private airport. Activities include the Tortoise Connection and the Birds of the Bay, say what? Nightly rates range from $250 up to $750, but the resort is incredible with so much to do.
Photo credit: Tekh Radar