Dogs in Spurs
Briarcliff began as a resort area on Lake Travis. It was a bit before its time and was not a financial success. It gained notoriety when country-and-western singer Willie Nelson bought it because he wanted its golf course. Dog lovers revere it because of nearby Pace Bend Park, the best leash-free park in the state.
The 1,520-acre Pace Bend Park has it all: water where pooches can swim, trails where they can run off leash, and campgrounds where they can snooze away the night under a star-studded Texas sky. The entire park is on a peninsula jutting into a hairpin bend in Lake Travis, with steep bluffs on one side offering spectacular campsites hanging off the sides of cliffs and views of the setting sun, and on the other side gentle grassy slopes descending to the water over which tomorrow's glowing orb will ascend.
The hiking trails take up the high ground running down the center of the peninsula. While they are not well maintained, they pose no problem to the rugged outdoor dog whose thoughtful owner carries a supply of water for both on hikes. The trails loop around some rugged hills and tackle other steep ascents head-on, but from the top you can see water on both sides of you and advancing condominiums to the east.
There are some 400 primitive campsites, but almost all those on the west side of the park (to your left as you enter) sit high atop steep bluffs and offer no access to the water. You might prefer the camping area at the tip of the peninsula at Kate's Cove and Johnson Cove. Big post oak trees shade the picnic tables and barbecue grills or fire rings, while a grassy bank slopes to the water's edge. The pooch under direct control may visit with other like members of his species, swim, and watch the deer that wander by on their way to drink at the lake. There are rest rooms, but no water is available. Drinking water is available in the park at Tatum Cove. Since this park is extremely busy on weekends and holidays, it's a good idea to bring an ample supply of water so you don't have to stand in line waiting to fill your jug.
The improved camping area has but 20 sites, but water and electricity are available, as are rest rooms with showers.
The park is reached by taking Highway 71 west from Austin to Ranch Road 2322. Turn right on Ranch Road 2322 and follow it to the park entrance. There is a small entry fee per vehicle. The park never closes. For reservations or information, call (512) 473-9437.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication