Nature

Dive in: 5 Ways to Play at Inks Lake State Park

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Inks Lake State Park is known for its stunning scenery and array of ways to play in it. It’s an hour northwest of Austin and nearby towns include Burnet, Llano, and Marble Falls.

“Inks Lake State Park is really a hidden gem in the middle of the Hill country,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Press Officer Stephanie Salinas said. “When you come into the park, it’s breathtaking to be driving through the hills and all of a sudden see this big glistening lake in the middle of everything. It’s a great place for all ages and interest levels to find something exciting to do when they want to spend time in the outdoors.”

1. Hike

Hike at Inks Lake State Park

Photo: courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

The park has nine miles of hiking trails that wind through forests and rocky hills. Don’t have time to walk it all? The Pecan Flats Trail is a 3.3-mile hike that winds through cedar, pecan, and hardwood forests, along riparian and upland natural areas and up to scenic viewpoints over Inks Lake, according to the hiking trail guide for Pecan Flats, available online at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Inks Lake State Park page.

“The first sections of the trail are easy to follow and well maintained,” the guide reads. “The best views are on the final portion of the trail. This part of the trail has some narrow stretches and a modest amount of elevation gain.”

The entire hike can be done in less than three hours at a moderate pace. There are composting toilets in a primitive camping area along the way, but there are no water sources, so make sure to pack a water bottle.

2. Camp

Mini cabins at Inks Lake State Park

Photo: Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Spend the night at Inks Lake State Park and choose from 200 campsites or 22 cabins. There are nine primitive campsites that you’ll have to backpack two miles to reach. The sites are rural and peaceful but keep in mind that no ground fires or pets are allowed in primitive areas and you must hike in your water.

There are many campsites with water and electricity available for RV’s. Cabins can sleep four and come with an A/C unit, ceiling fan, picnic table and outdoor grill and fire ring. Tents and small trailers are allowed on cabin sites. There are also a few ADA accessible cabins available so that everyone has an opportunity to come enjoy the park.

3. Explore the Devil’s waterhole

Inks Lake kayaking

Photo: Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

The Devil’s Waterhole is a popular swimming site at the park. You can hike the small canyon around it or spend all your time splashing in a calendar-view-worthy pool and watch daring cliff divers, who love the spot. When Valley Spring Creek is running you can also explore the scenic waterfalls upstream of the lake.

4. Boat or fish

Inks Lake sail boat

Photo: Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Paddle boats, canoes, one and two person kayaks, life vests, and paddles are all available for rent at the park store. You can also borrow rods, reels, and tackle boxes with hooks, sinkers, and bobbers for fishing. Inks Lake has a surface area of 831 acres. “It contains under-rated largemouth bass and Guadalupe bass populations, along with several species of sunfish, the website says. “White bass are regularly caught in the reservoir, and a low density white crappie population is present. Channel and flathead catfish occur throughout the reservoir.”

5. Join the Junior Rangers program or attend other events.

Junior rangers at Inks Lake State Park

Photo: Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

The park has free “junior ranger journals” available for young explorers. The activity books help kids learn about nature through drawing, writing and observing. Children can also borrow junior ranger explorer backpacks that come with a pair of binoculars, a magnifying glass, an animal tracking key and guides to all types of nature.

Special events are also available for the grown-ups with youthful curiosity. Options include fishing with a ranger, twilight hikes, geology focused hikes, survival skills workshops, and fireside chats with a ranger – free s’mores included. The program dates are all listed on the park’s website.