One of my go to places when I don’t have a reservation is Lake Georgetown.
A reservation you say? Yes. In Texas it is advisable to get an online reservation to visit most state parks. Texas State Parks all have a fee for entry and a capacity limit, so the good ones fill up quickly, especially on weekends You make reservations about a month ahead of when you want to go. Otherwise if you just show up you are probably going to wait a couple hours before you get in. Very weird to me after wandering around NC without restriction.
So when I can’t get into a good hiking park I head to Lake Georgetown which features the Goodwater Loop, a 26.5 mile hiking and backpacking trail, or Dana Peak Park at Stillhouse Hollow Lake which I will feature in a separate post.
Lake Georgetown is the lake that almost wasn’t. I read a great local book titled, ” A Road, A River,and ‘Ol Boy Politics”, it’s about how Williamson County Texas, (my home county and the location of Lake Georgetown) went from a small farming county to a supersuburb.
In Georgetown the South San Gabriel and North San Gabriel Rivers meet. The town was also flood prone but because of politics the only dam proposed for the San Gabriel was at Laneport east of Georgetown. This was to prevent flooding of valuable farmland in neighboring Milam County. The proposed Granger Lake was eventually built but in fighting that lake the county residents also got the promise of dams on the North and South Forks. The North Fork Dam today is Lake Georgetown, the south fork was never built.
The road was I-35. Originally planned to go farther east through Taylor Texas which was the county’s leading town, and nearer the dam at Laneport, the citizens there didn’t want the highway. It would take valuable farmland out of production. Over in Round Rock they quickly raised their hands and hollered “Pick me” and the state did.
Williamson county is split roughly in half by I-35. To the east is the Blackland Prairie, some of the finest farmland in Texas, to the west the Balcones Escarpment, a hilly, dry, rocky area with very little top soil. The water sources west consist of the San Gabriels (north and south forks) which are intermittently nearly dry and Brushy Creek which is spring fed but not nearly large enough to support massive growth.
So with water (Lake Georgetown) and a main thoroughfare (I-35) to Austin (south) and Dallas (north) Williamson County became a super suburb of Austin and Round Rock it’s leading city.
So enough history; let’s get to hiking. Lake Georgetown is circled by the San Gabriel River Trail or also known as The Goodwater Loop. I started my first hike here at Cedar Breaks Park. It’s two and a half miles to Crockett Gardens.
The trail started out paved then gravel and I’m thinking “another urban trail”. Not long into the hike I was pleasantly surprised.
About a quarter mile into the hike the trail becomes very rocky and you dip down and through a small canyon. From here on the trail is more of a backcountry trail although you are technically in the city. Lake Georgetown is pretty much a flooded canyon so there is an abundance of cliffs.
The first overlook is pretty dramatic. You are one hundred feet above the water and it is said the water is about 85 feet deep. Must of been a pretty impressive canyon for this area at one time.
At this point of the hike there is an upper and lower trail. The lower trail is pretty neat being among the cliffs but soon peters out at a dead end.
The upper trail leads towards Crockett Gardens and Falls. there isn’t much going on in this area but I always see deer in the pocket prairies in this section.
The definition of a pocket prairie is a small urban planting of native plants, but these are all natural. at about 2.3 miles you enter the Crockett Garden Area.
I have always considered myself a pretty good gardener but looking around me I wondered how they got any damn thing to grow in this rocky place. There are, as mentioned on the sign, some remains of historic structures.
Soon to the right is the trail to the water fall. At this point I hesitate as the grass is well over my head; snakes you know. But a couple of hikers appeared coming from the waterfall so I figured I’d do it.
Crockett Falls is a travertine water fall which means it’s still growing. The travertine is formed when natural chemicals in the water. (calcium carbonate) interact with the air. It is the same material that forms stalactites and stalagmites in a cave.
Crockett falls is fed by Knight Springs so it is always running, of course sometimes harder then others depending on rain.
Crockett Falls is not large but has a great big WOW! factor because of it’s uniqueness and beauty.
I continued on for another couple miles to Cedar Hollow Camp which was not impressive.
Another part of the trail I like is the section around Tejas Camp. This section is actually off the lake and along the North Fork San Gabriel River. This trip I brought along a little buddy.
Ah Quincy, the little shit. I adopted him about three years ago. He has hiked often with me but since he is now a little older, we think about 8 or 9 now, he can’t do the miles he used to. I have also confined him to paved trails since he refuses to get a haircut other then what momma and I can do for him. What! A dog refusing a haircut? Yep. He bites the groomers so it’s hard to get anyone to mess with him.
Back to hiking……..
The Tejas Camp is where the Goodwater Loop crosses the river on a low water crossing and heads back towards the dam. But since it is on the river not the lake it is near a pretty nice canyon.
I want to do the whole loop one day instead of section hikes. I got over to the Walnut Springs Primitive Camp on one trip and it looked pretty good as a place to stay on an overnight hike. There are also fee areas run by the Army Corps of Engineers spaced all along the trail at convenient intervals.