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Old 02-12-2012, 11:25 AM
16 posts, read 29,096 times
Reputation: 21
Default Hiking and camping 3 hours of Austin... and beyond

I'm not lazy enough to do let someone else do most of my own research, here is what I've found so far. I'm looking for those obscure places too, btw. That was one of my favorite things about living in Louisiana... we didn't have much, but when you found an obscure place of beauty in nature, it was wonderful. Keep in mind that I smoke and drink and would definitely like to safely do so in privacy, but realize that is not always possible at all state parks. At the very least I'd like a nice hiking and camping experience where I can grill and possibly, when no burn bans are around, have a campfire, and swim a bit or have some great views.

Tell me if I'm missing anything great that might be, say, 4-5 hours away, because if its good enough, I'm willing to drive that far.

Hill country state natural area

From what I read, a safe place to camp, have a camp fire, possibly even consume alcoholic beverages and light up. Not a high level of enforcement here. Looks wonderfully private.

TPWD: Hill Country State Natural Area


Enchanted Rock

Man I would love to camp out on top of that rock, but not allowed. I doubt beer or smoking would even be remotely safe here, busy park it seems. I'd definitely like to visit it though because it looks beautiful, and from what I read, the camping around the rock is very nice. I wonder how possible it is to get a decent, primative, remote camping spot away from others.

TPWD: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area


Perdernales falls

Apparently NOT friendly to alcohol and has rangers that stalk you, and you can't swim in most of the falls... But I would definitely like to visit it as it seems like it's a major state park and looks very pretty. I hear the hike is nice too.

TPWD: Pedernales Falls State Park


Pace bend

Now THIS is more my thing. Cliff jumping? **** yeah! Swimming? **** yeah! Camping is allowed. Good private areas for smoking, very secluded camping, I can see myself spending a lot of time here.

Pace Bend Park, Travis County, Texas


Muleshoe Bend

Though mainly a mountain biking place, this looks awesome. Nice view of the lake, very open so you can see if any rangers are coming up on you, and doesnt seem like it has many rules. I can see this being a nice prime area for some camping.

Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area


Krause Springs

Looks like heaven... privately owned, no park rangers, overnight private camping, beautiful springs, waterfalls, beer allowed... **** yeah.

Krause Springs - Spicewood, TX


Inks lake state park

Cliff jumping is a major plus. Constant level lakes. Low privacy, and gustapo police/rangers make me a little warry.

TPWD: Inks Lake State Park


Bastrop state park

although apparently it got hit pretty hard by wildfires, its 70% reopened. Sad to see such a beautiful place get damaged that bad. However, maybe in a year if I'm still there, it'll be worth visiting. Beer and BBQ was allowed. Seemed perfect.

TPWD: Bastrop State Park


Colorado Bend State Park.

Looks ****ing amazing. Incredible swimming, kayaking, camping, no park ranger dick stories.

TPWD: Colorado Bend State Park

Mckinney falls state park

VERY close to Austin, a little low on the swimming (the water apparently is usually very shallow), but still good for wading and cooling down. Lots of dick ranger stories though and looks like people get shaken down there alot. I'm hearing the water is pretty dirty too.

TPWD: McKinney Falls State Park

Blanco state park

Looks pretty cool, I'd enjoy the swimming. There's camping and geocaching, but apparently the park is tiny and you can see shell stations and stuff from it, and hear sirens. Not my cup of tea, but definitely might be worth a visit.

TPWD: Blanco State Park


Canyon lake area

Looks awesome. Too bad you cant swim in the gorge, and you have to take a guided tour. Seems like there are probably SEVERAL spots to camp all over canyon lake, so I'll definitely go there. Dinosaur footprints and fossils too... Although its illegal to take it out. Its federal government property. I think I might camp here sometime.

Canyon Lake Texas Information Guide, Lodging, Vacation, Real Estate, Property, Canyon Lake Waterfront


Lake georgetown

Seems like a good, little known camping area with very little regulation. Its owned by the corps of engineers... probably easy to drink beer and have a good night out there. Swimming and cliff jumping... definitely going to have to check it out.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Georgetown Lake Home Page

Lake Somerville... cant find any reviews, but it looks pretty secluded with tons of spots to camp out at, no burn ban, seems like a generally cool unknown place, which is kind of what I'm looking for.

TPWD: Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway


am I missing anything? haha


Edited from my a friend's list...

Barton Creek and the Green Belt Trail look awesome:

Lost maples state natural area is being recommended very highly by many:

Lost Maples State Park - Vanderpool, TX

Now, tell me, am I missing anything that's outside of the 3 hour range? You know, the 3-5 hour range, that might be worth the extra drive to go check out?

I know about Big Bend. I plan on visiting that at least once since I'll be there for over a year. I will have to do a TON of research to find the best places to discretely camp and hike big bend.
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:43 AM
Location: Hutto, Tx
8,613 posts, read 15,379,361 times
Reputation: 2301
Post this in the general Texas forum too I've got friends that love to camp at Somerville (and some of them are bikers, so I imagine the rules aren't too harsh) and also have friends that love Garner State Park. I've not been to Garner, but hear lots of good things. We used to camp at Pace Bend, but secluded much I don't know. It used to be. The rangers can be pretty harsh too. But we always enjoyed it.
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Old 02-12-2012, 12:12 PM
Location: Austin, TX
1,063 posts, read 1,113,562 times
Reputation: 799
I loved camping in Krause Springs (the longtime owner of the property died last year), the people smoke and drink. Enchanced Rock, camping there was fun, esp. if you're tripping! McKinney Falls State Park is weird because it is surrounded by urban Austin now. There are lot of daytrippers and smokers. I've always wanted to go to Bastrop State Park, which suffered greatly because it was ground zero of the Texas wildfires (large portions are closed and will be to aid ecosystem recovery). Canyon Lake I heard is awesome (mostly San Antonio/ New Braunfels people). [I admit, I party on the Guadalupe River tubing every year! ] Lake Georgetown (mostly Georgetown/Taylor people) I know is nice, you're not supposed to jump from the cliffs (Georgetown cops sometimes come out), but the kids do it anyway! Every year I try to go to Paleface State Park by Spicewood (north shore Lake Travis) now surrounded by suburbia, you'll meet alot of cool, local people. Hope this helps !
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Old 02-12-2012, 12:19 PM
16 posts, read 29,096 times
Reputation: 21
Thanks for the awesome tips! I think that the outdoor scene will make me absolutely love the move to Texas. I've been very nervous about it... its kind of scary to leave Louisiana hospitality. But my girlfriend is a native Texan, and I hear good things about Austin.

And if I have THIS kind of an environment just 3 hours away, thats incredible.
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Old 02-12-2012, 01:35 PM
Location: Austin, TX
1,063 posts, read 1,113,562 times
Reputation: 799
You'll love the outdoors around Austin and the city scene. I think when you get here you'll be blown away. Lots and lots young and (young at heart) active people. You can see it on the streets, very different than most cities. Honestly, at first, you may be overwhelmed!
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Old 02-12-2012, 01:46 PM
16 posts, read 29,096 times
Reputation: 21
Originally Posted by ImOnFiya View Post
You'll love the outdoors around Austin and the city scene. I think when you get here you'll be blown away. Lots and lots young and (young at heart) active people. You can see it on the streets, very different than most cities. Honestly, at first, you may be overwhelmed!
Thanks. I am going to have to get used to a lot of things, but at least its only an 8 hour move for me, not across the country, haha.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:33 PM
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
1,290 posts, read 1,122,624 times
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Nice list! Been to most of these places and they're beautiful places! Barton Creek Greenbelt is nice because it's in central Austin (well, a good chunk of it) and easily accessible, and pretty laid back although occasionally rangers walk through.

Only thing to keep in mind with several of these things is that with the drought, you won't have nearly the water level you see in these pics so the enjoyment level takes a hit.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:43 PM
Location: Round Rock
482 posts, read 1,026,168 times
Reputation: 200
Garner - awesome, great hiking but in the off season otherwise too crowded

Lake Somerville - Didn't like it. Bathrooms were horrible and scorpions everywhere including the shower. That was a nice surprise at 10 pm.

Bastrop - awesome hiking trails but not sure now after fires

Palmetto - very nice, small and very secluded. Not much hiking
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:46 PM
16 posts, read 29,096 times
Reputation: 21
Scorpions... gonna have to get used to those.

How do I avoid them/what if I get stung?
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Old 02-12-2012, 04:27 PM
Location: Austin, TX
14,069 posts, read 18,442,102 times
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A scorpion once stung my wife on the foot while she was standing on the back patio talking to some men who were delivering firewood. They recommended pouring a little gasoline on the sting site, it worked to take the sting away. They get stung often while cutting trees and firewood.

Texas scorpion stings are not very dangerous unless you have some unusual allergic reaction.

There are lots of other great swimming holes around Austin that you will learn off after you move here. But I'm not going to give them away on a public website for fear they will become over-run.
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