Dogs in Spurs

Inks Lake State Park
Gorp.com
At the risk of overusing a phrase that is already a classic clichi, Burnet County may be one of Texas dog lovers' best-kept secrets. The Colorado River cuts through live-oak-clad pink granite hills, making for some of the prettiest scenery in the state. Dams along the river create a chain of lakes abutted by public recreation areas, four of which permit unleashed pooches to hike, swim, and investigate scent trails left by the abundant wildlife.

The 1,202-acre Inks Lake State Park is a Texas treasure. Wrapped around five promontories projecting into Inks Lake, the park is strewn with pink granite outcrops cloaked in a thick fuzz of live oaks, mesquites, and junipers. Your leashed pooch will love rubbing noses with the many white-tailed deer that wander unafraid in the campgrounds. These deer will literally eat out of your hand, although caution should be exercised, especially during the fall rut, when males can become aggressive.

The northern two-thirds of the park is most popular with campers and swimmers in the summertime, since it has several protected coves that are designated swimming areas. Your pooch, who must remain on leash throughout the park, is not allowed in the water or adjacent to the swim beaches in this area. In addition, dogs are banned from the screened shelters and may not be left tied outside.

Hiking

A network of improved hiking trails—nearly six miles in all—winds among the campsites in the southern third of the park and extends across Park Road 4. These trails are an excellent place to view the park's abundant wildlife. Obtain a park map when you check in; it shows the hiking trails and distances between points. Trailhead signs mark the beginnings of trails, but some signs may be badly in need of maintenance and hard to read. Plus they are very hard to uproot and drag along with you. Get the map.

Camping

Campsites in the northern half of the park have water and electricity. Perhaps because this part of the park is the best for swimming and is therefore quite popular, sites are packed closely together. Many are shaded by trees, but the emphasis here is on efficient use of space. There are screened shelters for rent but your pooch is not allowed inside and cannot be left outside. Campsites in the southern half of the park—reached by turning left when you leave the park headquarters—have water but no electricity, but they are more widely spaced and are more likely to be shaded by trees. You and your water dog will be most happy in campsites 300 through 349. Many of these sites back up to the shoreline. The water is only a few feet away, and your leashed pooch is free to swim and splash until she has worked up the world's biggest outdoor appetite. Hot dog, anyone? All improved camping areas are served by rest rooms with showers. Contact the park for current rates.

If you and your wilderness pooch want to camp with the critters, the Pecan Flats Trail Camp lies half a mile north of Park Road 4. Park on the left just past park headquarters and follow the hiking trail a mile to the first campsite and a mile and a half to the farthest from the parking lot. The numbered sites are laid out in a half-moon pattern about 100 yards apart.

Reservations for campsites at all state parks must be made by calling the central reservation number, (512) 389-8900, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Reservations are strongly recommended, and a deposit is required in order to guarantee a reservation. Specific sites may not be reserved; they are available on a first-come, first-served basis upon arrival.

Getting There

From Burnet go west on Highway 29 six miles to Park Road 4 and follow the signs three miles to the park. There is a small fee to enter. The park closes at 10 p.m. to all except overnight guests. (512) 793-2223.


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