All hikers kind of develop their go to place or “home park” so to speak. I have three Dana Peak, a Corp of Engineers park at Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Lake Georgetown which I have written about earlier and Inks Lake State Park. all are about an hour or less from the house so I get to them often. On a recent weekend while making last minute plans to hike I was planning on the Stillhouse Hollow area but thought to check for an opening at Inks Lake.
A reminder here about hiking in Texas. If you are planning a weekend trip to a state park, especially one close to a population center, you need to go online and reserve a pass. Otherwise you are probably not going to get in until late in the day if at all.
On this particular weekend getting in at Inks Lake was especially special. It’s April, it’s wildflower season and the park is in the Central Texas bluebonnet belt.
I have been to Inks Lake probably more times then anywhere else in Texas. All kinds of weather. Inks Lake never disappoints. It is just a beautiful place. First, unlike most of central Texas, it’s base rock is not limestone, it is granite. Known as Town Mountain Granite, it is pink and it is punctured by a lot of Valley Spring Gneiss (pronounced nice) . So flowers or not the place is gorgeous.
So as you can see the beauty of Inks Lake is not confined to how the flowers are doing. I fell in love the first time I went. They had just reopened the backcountry trails after a major fire, so there were no flowers and there was little grass or growth on the pink stone.
Inks Lake also has a somewhat popular although harder to find geologic formation that includes a waterfall which I will discuss in a later post.
On this particular Sunday morning the wildflowers were in full bloom. There were fields of Texas Bluebonnets, Indian Paint brushes, Worts and various other wildflowers.
As I started my hike and passed by Stumpy Hollow I picked up a couple of buddies that accompanied me for a short time on my journey.
Inks lake isn’t a large park so I always try to do the Lake Trail, the Woodland Trail, the .8 mile Connecting Trail and come back through the Pecan Flats primitive camping area. of these the Woodland is my favorite it features many stone outcroppings like the one pictured below and some fabulous views of the Hoover Valley towards Kingsland Texas.
I caught the Connecting Trail towards Pecan Flats. The two trails come together near the 1000 foot overlook the highest point in the park. Here is the best view of Inks Lake and Buchanan Dam which sits right behind it. But, Inks has it’s own dam and is noted as having the smallest hydroelectric power station in the state of Texas.
In contrast Buchanan is the largest dam in the Highland Lakes System. The Highland Lakes System was developed in the 30’s and 40’s to prevent flooding in the lower Colorado River basin and to provide hydro electric power in an effort to electrify the rugged hill country of central Texas. It consists of six Dams and Lakes: Buchanan-Lake Buchanan, Inks Dam-Inks Lake, Wirtz Dam-Lake Lyndon B Johnson, Max Starcke Dam- Lake Marble Falls, Mansfield Dam- Lake Travis, and Tom Miller Dam-Lake Austin. The whole thing is managed by the Lower Colorado River Authority. The LCRA has developed many parks along the lake shores and all charge a fee to enter. I my opinion none of them comes close to the beauty of Inks Lake.
Along the Connecting Trail the beauty of the flowers became obvious as there were fields and fields of Texas Bluebonnets.
After a short side trip to visit the 1000 foot overlook I completed my hike through the primitive camp area of Pecan Flats. Back at the car I decided to drive through the regular campground and visit the geological wonder of this park…… which you will have to wait until a later time to learn about!