Texas Hill Country

lake travis


2009 has been an extremely hot and dry season in the Texas Hill Country. Temperatures have been well above 100 for weeks. That means you need to rise early to enjoy the great outdoors in the areas surrounding Austin, TX. But we have braved the elements and done our best.

Lakes of the Colorado River

There are a serious of  lakes on the Colorado River starting with Lake Buchanan, located about 75 miles North West of downtown Austin. Lake Marble Falls and LBJ are next on the list. Next stop down river, Lake Travis and Lake Austin is where we have spent most of our time. Finally, Lake Lady Bird run right threw the City of Austin. No power boats on Lady Bird.

Mansfield Dam

Mansfield Dam Park has been the only dam open on the giant Lake Travis in 2009. The water is at its lowest levels in decades. The Lake is about 30-50 feet down. It’s a deep lake with much of it around 120’ to 150’ deep. But all the ramps and some of the boat docks are now on land. Most of the summer we could only launch at Mansfield. There are some gravel ramps up river, but they looked more like sand to me. In late July, the Mansfield boat ramp was also closed as the end of the ramp was out of the water. That’s how fishing goes some times.

lake austin

Lake Austin

There are two public launches for Lake Austin. One right at the dam on 15th street and another below the bridge on Capital of Texas highway. After spending a few hours in the parking lot for boat repair, we launched under the bridge and drove from one end to lake to the other. The end of the line hits a small fishing bridge right below Mansfield dam. The water is about 5 feet deep and crystal clear. I have been having the urge to make a car day trip soon, and do a little snorkeling. One other good think about Lake Austin, the water is cold compared to Lake Travis. I assume it is because the water comes out of the bottom of the dam. Lake Austin is only about 20 feet deep at its deepest. It looks more like a river than a lake. It is one of the 2 “constant level” rivers on the system. LBJ being the other one.

“The Bats”

A large colony of bats lives under the Congress Street Bridge during the summer. They leave their man made cave at dusk to feed. Thousands of spectators line the banks and the east side of the bridge.


Lady Bird

You can access Lady Bird from several locations in and around downtown Austin. There is a nice public park called Ziegler Park where you can rent kayaks and canoes among other things. They have a creek pool, large children’s playground, and even a small train for the kids. Oh yea, I almost forgot the frizzy golf and a small 9 hole par 3 around the corner.

Ocean Fishing

Our Rig needs some work before we take it back into the ocean, but we are going to try to take a few trips before the summer is over. Maybe an offshore red snapper trip out of Corpus Christi is in order. The fishing is tough this time of year is South Texas. Especially with the hot dry conditions we have had. We have not been up to Buchanan, but this will change soon. Probably around the time the weather does.


Longhorn Cavern

Longhorn Caver is located between Marble Falls and Burnett. It’s about 6 miles off the highway. It’s a pretty nice cave. There are others around as well, but this is the only one we have visited.

The Texas Hills TO-Do list

  • Float the River
  • Climb the Mountain
  • Ride The Big Train
  • Hunting Season