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Good Water Trail

Trail (3.85)79
(2.79) (3.49)
16.50 Miles N/A
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Georgetown Williamson
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The trail near the trailhead is composed of gravel. That soon changes in about a quarter mile.
Getting there: To get there head north on I-35 into Georgetown and turn left onto Highway 29 and head west. Turn right onto D.B. Wood Road and head north into Cedar Breaks Park. Obtain a trail map at the park entrance.

The Hike: One of the longest trails in the Hillcountry area is also one of the most overlooked. The Goodwater Trail snakes around Lake Georgetown and almost completely encircles it. With several trailheads to choose from this hike provides ample opportunities for short day hikes or even a multi-day circumnavigation.

A rainy month prior to my hike meant that the falls at Crockett Gardens were gushing more than usual.
The most common starting point for a hike along Lake Georgetown is at Cedar Breaks Park, at the southeastern corner of the lake. Here the trail starts off on a well maintained surface of crushed stone, but within a quarter mile turns rocky and rough as it approaches the lake shore. Some of the best views of the lake occur near mile marker 1 on the trail and thereafter.

Lake Georgetown as seen from a point along the trail. Early enough in the day before the boaters showed up.
Along the trail there are numerous signs of the people who used to live in the area before the reservoir was filled in. At about the 2.5 mile mark on the trail lies Crockett Springs, sometimes referred to as Crockett Gardens. A natural spring feeds a small water fall. This little oasis provided water for a vegetable garden, that included the first strawberries grown in Williamson County. The remains of several structures can still be seen here, including a corral and a spring house. A history of the land that is now flooded by or adjacent to Lake Georgetown is available on the US Army Corps of Engineers web site.

The terrain between mile 5 and 6 may be the most interesting. The trail gets very rough and ventures through numerous rock fields.
The roughest, and perhaps most interesting, segment of the trail occurs roughly between mile markers 5 and 7. Here the trail cuts through rough terrain, sometimes passing through gaps between immense limestone boulders over six feet high. Thick clusters of cactus and Cedar also dot the area, sometimes partially overhanging the trail itself.

A view of the upper reaches of Lake Georgetown from the trail during a dry spell.
Between Mile Marker 7 and the Tejas Camp trailhead (near Mile Marker 11) the trail overall becomes flatter than the preceding miles. But between the long segments that cross lakeside plains there are occasional forays uphill into the Cedar and Oaks.

At Tejas Camp the trail crosses onto the northern shore of Lake Georgetown via a small bridge shared with light auto traffic. The crossing here is short because the lake has tapered back into the shape and name of the North Fork of the San Gabriel River. On the north shore the trail heads east.

In general, the north shore's trails are the easier ones and this is particularly true of the trails on the northwest sector of the lake. The trail here consists of wide jeep trails and dirt roads on terrain that gently undulates for several miles before things get a bit rougher.

The trail sometimes provides a view of the lake, but rarely approaches it directly.
No more than a half mile beyond Tejas Camp the official trail paradoxically leaves the wider path for a single track through Cedar and cactus. I totally missed this fork in the trail on my original pass and caught it only my return back to Tejas Camp from where I started my day hike. There is no sign indicating this and the wider path parallels this one and will rejoin it a bit later. Proof that the official trail is the narrower path is validated by the appearance of mile marker 12.

The area around Tejas Camp at mile marker 11 is a popular fishing spot.
The trail's gentle terrain changes drastically near mile marker 16 on the approach to Russell Park. It starts to look more like the south shore with rock outcroppings and boulders strewn about. The original end of the trail was at the 16.6 mile point in Russell Park and it's an uphill trek to get to the parking area there. The climb would be all the more challenging if you had tackled the trail in its entirety up to this point.

Looking back from the northshore to the southshore. Note the more rugged terrain on the other side of the lake.
Recent trail work by the Austin Ridge Riders and the International Mountain Bike Association has expanded the trail system beyond Russell Park and to practically encircle Lake Georgetown back to Cedar Breaks Park. I failed to find the continuation from the Russell Park trailhead, but I'm assured that it's there. I'll tackle that final segment on a later trip.

Although popular with scouting groups for camping trips, the Good Water is not heavily used, particularly when venturing far from the established trailheads. What you will encounter on pleasant days is lots of boat traffic on the water. On one trip I even had to put up with a hovering helicopter on a sight-seeing trip.

The north shore portion of the trail does get rougher near Russell Park.
Alternate trailheads exist at the end of West Lake Parkway (near Mile Marker 5), at Tejas Camp (Mile Marker 11 at the western-most tip of the lake) and at Russell Park (Mile Marker 16.5). Russell Park is closed from October 1 to March 31 every year, though the Corps of Engineers indicates that it's OK to park outside the park during this time, but at your own risk.

Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but only on the north shore of the lake according to official Corps of Engineers trail maps.

Fellow members have been kind to send in two separate large maps of the Lake Georgetown trail system:


Photos

Trail View At the Cedar Breaks trailhead the path is easy. Things get a bit rougher when the trail meets the lake and starts following its shore. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Waterfalls Crockett Springs feeds a couple of waterfalls that descend into an arm of the lake. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Corral Near the springs the ruins of a springhouse and corral can be found. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Limestone outcropping Located less than a half-mile in from Jim Hogg Park, this is one of the neat features of this section. (Photo by dburatti) Corral The Goodwater Trail cuts right through a corral. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Another Building Another of the ruins found at Crockett Gardens. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Trail View The trail near the trailhead is composed of gravel. That soon changes in about a quarter mile. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Lake Georgetown Lake Georgetown as seen from a point along the trail. Early enough in the day before the boaters showed up. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Crockett Springs Falls A rainy month prior to my hike meant that the falls at Crockett Gardens were gushing more than usual. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Rougher Trail The terrain between mile 5 and 6 may be the most interesting. The trail gets very rough and ventures through numerous rock fields. (Photo by Austin Explorer) stepping stones on trail between Jim Hogg and Russell Parks stepping stones on trail between Jim Hogg and Russell Parks (Photo by seejanplay7) Wayside pool between Jim Hogg and Russell Parks Wayside pool between Jim Hogg and Russell Parks (Photo by seejanplay7)
Sawyer ...a short walk from Sawyer with fresh brewed coffee in hand - THIS is what it's all about!!! (Photo by NewHiker) Tejas Trailhead December in Texas brings with it a beauty all its own...taken from the trailhead, south of Tejas Camp. (Photo by NewHiker) along the walk a peaceful walk through the woods (Photo by dee0403tx)
solitude very quiet, lots of solitude (Photo by dee0403tx) Sunset over Georgetown Lake on Christmas Day, 2008 Sunset over Georgetown Lake on Christmas Day, 2008, on the Good Water Trail leading to Crockett Gardens and Falls. (Photo by infernoii)

Log Entries

Tejas to Sawyer and back
By crocodile235 on 9/22/2013
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.50 MilesDuration: N/A

I did Cedar Breaks to mile marker 3 and back last year (not as much solitude there), but this time I started at Tejas Camp and went to Sawyer Camp and back.  (Plus a detour down a jeep trail between mile markers 9 and 10 where I discovered a secluded camp site in some trees near a creek/drainage.)  It ended up being around 8.5 miles.

Tejas Camp looked pretty nice, a good quiet place to camp if you don't need amenities (like showers).  Depite it being a gorgeous, not-too-hot weekend, there was no one there.  The toilets are adequate and there's water.  Some of the camp sites are near one another, and others are more secluded.  Most were shaded.

Sawyer Camp, on the other hand, was a mess.  If they're not going to fix up the old toilet structure, they should just knock it down--it's an eyesore.  Several of the fire/grill pits were broken and/or overgrown with grasses and vines.  There was litter scattered around.  The one picnic table there was OK.  The lake level was low, and if you needed to go down to pump water, you'd have quite a trek.   I saw only one, maybe two camp sites that would be worth pitching a tent in, and that's being generous due to the lovely solitude.

The trail itself was pretty good.  Lots of varied terrain, switching from open fields to wooded sections to rocky outcroppings.  I only saw a couple of other people the whole time.  There were some sections where grasses have grown over rocks on the trail--it would be easy to twist an ankle or crash your bike here.

Diamond in the rough. 11 minutes form Austin CIty Limits
By jvmx on 6/22/2013
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 22.00 MilesDuration: N/A

We dropped in at the Cedar Breaks trail head and waked the full south shore of the lake. 11 Miles out. 11 miles back.

We saw very few people the entire 24 hours. On a weekend where we could not get a reservation at any state park with 100 miles of Austin.

  • There is nothing at the Cedar Breaks trail head other than a tidy parking lot. No water. No Trash cans. Nothing.

  • The "map" they pass out at the gate is the same PDF that you get on the web. ( http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/georgetown/images/gtwn%20images/images/HikingTrailCDW.pdf ) IF you are an orienteering person: forget it. Perhaps the USGS quads are available.

  • The trail is not well marked, but very easy to follow. Our only confusion was to turn off on the feed trails Cedar Hollow Camp and Sawyer Camp. There are rck sign structures to mark the trail junction, but the wooden part that told you what is going on has rotted away.

  •   Crocket Garden/ Knight Springs was nice and cool. Good spot to filter water. (mile 2.5 or so)

  • Cedar Hollow Camp was empty other that one group of campers: despite the fact it was a Saturday night in June. It looked very nice. There are no facilities or clean water there. We pumped lake water here to purify it. We did not stay here. It did look nice. There were some boaters who looked like they were about to do "Drive Up Camping"

  • Sawyer Camp (Mile 6.5 ?) was up the hill a bit form the lake. There was not a single person there. We got there about 5 PM on a summer saturday. So if you are looking for a get away: this could be it. Getting to the lake to get water was a bit of a scramble thru some medium thickets. Bothe Sawyer and Cedar Hollow have old abandoned outhouse facilities. These are so abandoned that they have neglected to even tear them down. They are not useful: if you are the kind of hiker who needs potty....

  • From mile 7 to 10 the grass grows in on the trail so Knee high socks or long pants are advised. (not to mention the waves of grasshoppers you will upset: it was like a biblical /plague but cool!)

  • Tejas Park Campground is the one at the extreme West end. Very nice facility: But it is a "Drive up and camp" place. Despite this we were the only one to stay the night. Its clean an the land around it is very nice. Lots of room if you have kids who want to run in the open meadow. There is a single water socket with running water and restrooms.

    NOTE: The old guy who care takes the Tejas facility is very nice: but I get the impression that he has to have the rules followed. This means make sure you print your reservation slip or have it on your iPhone.

    * You never get to far from the noises of boats, farms or highways. But you don't see too much of it.

    We will go back and probably do the north shore before summer is out.
By crocodile235 on 4/1/2013
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 6.00 MilesDuration: N/A
By ValEpiscopo on 3/24/2013
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 14.00 MilesDuration: 5 hours
Hiked Good Water Trail from trail head to Sawyer Creek Hollow and back.
Great escape from the city
By tarrains on 3/24/2012
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.00 MilesDuration: N/A

We started off by a few fishing areas and hiked four miles around the bend, up and down a hill, and through meadows to a friends campsite. We swam some but freaked out when we saw a snake. We fished some but it wasn't a good time of day. The camp site was very secluded. We hiked back in a race to beat the sun. The hill was much harder on the quick return. This lake has interesting and has ever changing terrain, beautiful scenic overlooks, and very open but secluded campsites. Sorry I can't remember the names of the trails or campsites.

Crockett Gardens
By Riff Raff on 3/24/2012
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 5.95 MilesDuration: 4 hours

Went out to Crockett Gardens and back. Terrain was different than I remembered, because the lake level was significantly higher than I'd ever seen it before. The waterfall going directly into the lake was beautiful, and the irises were in full bloom along with other wildflowers.

Good Place for Family and Dogs
By estudio64 on 3/17/2012
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 1.00 MileDuration: 2 hours
My girlfriend and our dog joined our friends' family which consisted of a three-year-old, a six-year-old, a 15-year-old, and a 17-year-old. Everyone, dog included, enjoyed the hike. Being that we had such a large group, we didn't venture much further than the first stem trail to the lake shore that we found, but it was a great place to get some sun, skip rocks, and look for spiders. On our short journey, I was struck by the seemingly endless splay of junipers that nestled us on either side of the trail. Staring deep into it, an expansive feeling overtook me, like looking into two mirrors facing each other or taking in the relentless dark of Longhorn Caverns. The moment, however brief, filled and nurtured a heart otherwise troubled by the constant pressure to correct disruptive and destructive behavior of children and dog. Illusions can heal. Often, they are the only thing we can look to.
The Big Loop
By Trailmagic on 7/17/2011
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 27.00 MilesDuration: N/A
The Goodwater trail is connected all the way around the lake. 27 total miles approximately. I completed the loop in an overnighter with about 5 other folks from the Austin hiking meet up group. Excellent overnight backpacking trip. We left from Jim hogg and camped at Sawyer.. then completed the loop in the morning. A couple of things.. you can fill water at the overlook and entrance station, so don't over carry on the first day..you can also fill water at Camp Tejas on day 2 which is an easy hike after the camp out.. The trail is overall Flat, but its on limestone nearly the whole way and can create some significant foot pain so wear sturdy shoes and walk carefully.. This is an excellent long walk close to Austin.
Changed my mind
By texaskdog on 2/13/2011
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 6.00 MilesDuration: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Decided that we aren't really ready for an 11 mile hike so decided to try once again to find Tejas Camp and hike 2 hours round trip, exactly one year from our last visit, to the east side.  Enjoyed it much more this time.  We lost the trail out of Tejas as it hit the water but climbed up and found it.  Near mile 9 climbing the hill was really cool.  We got to mile marker 8 which seemed like a logical place to turn around.  on the way back we followed the main trail which actually goes way out of the way.  Saw a plane lose its engine but got it back on and went to Georgetown, looked like danger coming.

Beautiful loop trail. Recommended!
By voolevoonye on 2/5/2011
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 12.00 MilesDuration: 5 hours, 15 minutes

Beautiful trail, and so close to Austin! This was my first and I will definitely come back for the rest of it. Did only 6 miles in and back (12 total) this morning. We started at the Cedar Breaks trailhead and went clockwise. Yesterday was a snow day so when we started around 9:30am we still had some snow on the ground and some of the falls were frozen! The drawback was that on the way back it all became muddy :-) We were alone for most of the time; only when we headed back afternoon we saw a few hikers and couple of families. Note that my rating referrs only to the first 6 miles clockwise. Will come back for the whole loop in spring.


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