The weather has finally cooled off here in Texas, and our nights have become mild, and the days are comfortably warm. It was with this in mind, I set off yesterday (Sunday, Oct. 29th) for an epic trail hike along the Good Water Trail near Georgetown, Texas.
The trail is a loop that circles Lake Georgetown, and is mintues from Georgetown itself. It took me about 15 mintues to get there from my place in Round Rock, and I’d imagine it would be about a half-hour drive from Austin. I had been under the impression that the trail was roughtly 18 to 20 miles around, and I had hiked sections of it before, but when I checked in at Cedar Breaks Park, where the trail head starts, I was told that it was actually 26 miles long, adding considerable length to my day. Shrugging my shoulders, I headed off to the trail to get things started.
The morning was cool, but I had brought a light jacket, and although I was dressed in shorts, once I got moving I was plenty warm. Later, as the day would warm up, I’d be glad I was in shorts, and the jacket would come off, and packed into my backpack. The trail starts on the South side of Lake Georgetown and wanders through the rocky hills that overlook the lake. The first few miles offer some very scenic views as it leisurely wanders through the hills. In this area, the trail can get fairly narrow in spots, and there are rocks everywhere. From time to time, the path wanders away from the cliffs and into open, grassy areas, before snaking back to the cliffline again.
The terrain begins to change some around Mile Marker 7 when you wander down off the hills and into more open grassland areas, briefly returning to the hills again at Mile Marker 9, before again heading downward to the grasslands. From there, the trail become fairly easy hiking. There is little elevation change, the rocky trail that punished your feet has fallen away, and breezes flow freely across the open area. Eventually you’ll reach Camp Tejas, which is Mile Marker 11. At this point, Lake Georgetown has narrowed to a small stream, where you cross and begin the long trek along the North side of the Lake. The next few miles are double track mountain bike trails that run alongside the far Western portion of the lake itself. Again, fairly easy hiking, although it is mostly unshaded, so in the warmth of the day, it can become quite warm. I rode this section on my mountain bike a few times this Summer and it can be beastly hot.
Around Mile Marker 16 the trail turns away from the lake shore and once again heads up into the hills, and the trail narrows, become rocky again, but is well shaded, and more interesting to hike. The trail remains like this wandering up and down the hills and through fairly thickly wooded areas. The trail is still easy to follow in this area, but Mile Markers are practically non-existent, and it’s much harder to judge your distance. It runs like that for another eight or nine miles until you reach Overlook Park which then returns you to civilization for the most part. From there, you’ll find simple, easy paved trails, that then run across the dam itself before returning you to the trailhead again, 26 miles, 9 hours, and some severely tired legs later.
While I had a great time hiking the trail, I personally wouldn’t recommend doing it all in one day. There came a point where I felt like I bit off more than I could chew, but there wasn’t anything I could do but keep moving. Around Mile Marker 15 or 16 I started to get very dehydrated, even though I had been drinking regularly from my hydration pack. It was that section of the trail that has you more exposted to the sun, and it was starting to have it’s effect on me. I also hadn’t eaten enough, despite bringing trail snacks and a sandwich. By about mile 20, I realized that I was on the Bataan Death March. My legs were killing me, my feet were sore and tired from the rocky paths, and I was in pretty bad shape with the dehydration and lack of food. My stomach wasn’t happy with me, my legs weren’t happy with me, and all I wanted was to take a hot shower, curl up in my easy chair, and drink a full bottle of Gatorade. I should also note, I went solo on the trail, and having some company to go along with my misery, would have been nice at this point as well.
I struggled on until I reached Overlook Park, where I sat and had a nice rest to let me legs recover some. Then, getting back to my feet, I found the easy paved trails, and crossed the long damn, and returned to my car. Exhausted, needing a drink badly, and with very tired legs. Still, I also felt an sense of accomplishment and making it all the way around the trail. 26 miles is nothing to sneeze at, especially over some very rocky terrain.
All in all, for a nice afteroon hike, it’s tough to beat the Good Water Trail. There are various points of access, beautiful vistas, and challenging trails for hikers, and mountain bikers, alike. In the entire time I was out there, I probably ran into 20 people or so. Two large groups with six or eight people each, and then a straggler or two here and there. It’s nice to have that kind of solitude on the trail, and still not be very far from a city at all. Great stuff. I highly recommend it, just be sure to bring plenty of water, and if you want to do the whole loop, consider camping out along the way. Your legs will thank you for it.
One other note. I had intended to bring my camera along to get some good shots, but left it behind on the kitchen table when I went out the door. In the first few miles I really wished I had it, but by mile 16 or so, I was glad it wasn’t with me. It would have been one more things for me have to carry when I was already struggling. Still, this site has some great shot of what to expect out there.
Have you hiked the Good Water? Have any commets or questions? Drop me an e-mail or post a comment!
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