On today’s exploration, we ventured out to Belton, Texas., to get footage for a music video. However, before leaving Austin, Texas., I decided to research the area and find things to do around Belton before the shoot. Needless to say, I found exactly what I was looking for. As it turns out, in Belton, Texas., the Stillhouse Hollow Lake can be found. The lake itself is surprisingly blue and clear. It was shocking to see such a clear body of water in these parts of Texas. However, the lake itself was not the primary reason we stopped there. On the edge of the lake next to the dam, there is a park called Chalk Ridge Falls, and just as the name states, there is a set of waterfalls in the park that comes from the Lampasas River.
The park itself is often a destination by locals and some outsiders that take advantage of the shallow areas of water to swim in. Not only because the water is clear and clean, but also because the Stillhouse Hollow Lake feeds the Lampasas river just about a mile away. Therefore the water is nice and refreshing. Since I did not have a thermometer with me, I will use my best guess after getting in the water to take a photo of the falls, to say that the water was around 75 degrees. Which was a great because the air temperature was roughly 95 degrees, even though we were surrounded by shade due to the extensive vegetation around the area.
Because of its location in the central region of Texas, it must be stated that this park is known for its wildlife. Mostly snakes. You will find signs all around the park with images of snakes and what they look like in case you get bitten. Here you may find snakes such as your average garden snakes, to coral snakes, and even water moccasins. So it is essential that you keep your eyes open and stay vigilant to avoid a bad experience. Just remember that snakes are timid, and more than often they will try to get away from you. Best thing to do if you encounter a snake is to leave it alone and walk the opposite direction in a calm and slow manner. Also, it is highly recommended to stay on the trail and avoid areas with tall grass or leaves since most of the snakes that inhabit the area do not make sounds like your typical dessert snake, the rattlesnake. And since most water snakes stay afloat on water, you will have plenty of time to avoid an encounter with one if they decide to swim by. Lastly, since snakes are cold-blooded reptiles, the chances of an encounter are higher during the evening as the sun sets since it’s typically too hot during broad daylight.
Now that you understand what you may find, let’s talk about the trail. Because the park is more than just an entrance to some great swimming areas. It’s also a long trail that makes for an amazing hike. The trail is roughly 3.1 miles long, and many consider the trail a moderate hike since the elevation changes periodically. You will have to go up through man-made wooden stairs, narrow suspension bridges, and natural hills during several parts of the trail. Because of that, it seems to me that using bikes on these trails might be pretty difficult. But I’m not your father, so feel free to do as you wish. Just remember that you have been warned.
Despite the park being out on the outskirts of Belton, the flow of people hiking the trail was abnormally large. Especially for a Monday. So be prepared to have to share your swimming spot with people if you go on a weekend. Not only that, but the park is also pet-friendly. So there will be people hiking the trails with their dogs. And while dogs must be on a leash, you will notice that some people do not care. Mostly because of the lack of vigilance around the area. Because of that and the fact that it is known for snakes, I would highly suggest you don’t hike these trails alone. The good news is that you will have cell phone service the entire time (I have AT&T), so you should be able to call for help if anything were to happen.
Overall, my experience at the park surpassed my expectations. Mostly because the waterfalls were flowing, and that is a rare occurrence around this time of the year during summer. I will say, that even though the park is well marked and easy to navigate, I was disappointed by the amount of trash I saw around the trail, and the lack of service the restrooms in the parking lot get. I could smell the restrooms from the edge of the lot. Luckily, by the time you enter the trail, the smell is gone. The waterfall and most of the swimming spots are within minutes of a hike from the entrance. So if all you want to do is swim or relax by the water, then you will not have to hike for long. But if you’re ready to hike the whole trail, then I would suggest you bring a bottle of water since there are no water fountains around the area.
Have you been to these trails before? If so, feel free to leave a comment with tips or suggestions for other hikers and explorers. Also, don’t forget to visit our Instagram page and YouTube channel. Follow us to stay up to date on the adventures and reviews of all there is to do here in Austin and the nearby places. Lastly, please help support ATXexpert by visiting our growing shop! Hats, shirts, coffee cups, prints and more will be available for sale in the very near future!