Visiting Lockhart State Park in 2021

Lockhart state park is a hidden gem in the Texas hill country. Learn more about what you can expect including CCC history and trails.

Lockhart state park was the site of my very first Youtube video. The original plan was to do a daddy/daughter video series because at the time she and I were hiking together pretty frequently. Well, she’s now 11, has a new buddy in the neighborhood, is about to start 6th grade, and has found other things to do with her time. The last time I was at Lockhart I was trying out a new bike, and it was very short-lived, so I went back to hike in 2021 and had one of the better times out there.

Lockhart is in a bit of a micro-boom. Residential prices in nearby Austin are going through the roof, so a lot of people are looking for additional options to live. The small-town vibe, bbq-capital, and German-style town square courthouse have apparently been the perfect blend of acceptance and old-school Texas heritage.

The state park here though has seemingly fallen under the radar for a lot of Best-Of lists around the state, and I’m quite alright with that. I’ve written about this park before, and on this visit, I was still the only one on the trail, so thankfully my influence hasn’t gotten too out of hand. Sarcasm.

If you’ve read my original Lockhart State Park post then you already know some of the highlights:

  • Built in the 1930’s by the CCC
  • Last remaining golf course still maintained by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Those things are, of course, still true. There were a handful of people hitting the greens when I arrived at the park.

I decided to spend a little more time looking for those CCC gems and venture out on some of the trails that I missed on the first visit.

What did the Civilian Conservation Corp. build at the park?

The Civilian Conservation Corps.

CCC Company 3803

Investment into texas parks

Created from The New Deal in the 1930s, the CCC was responsible for building parks all over the United States.

Recreation Hall

The recreation hall at the park has been used for a handful of different things; an event center, dance hall, and today it can be reserved for special events.


SWIMMING POOL

One of the artifacts of a previous era can still be seen just after the entrance to the park. Drive down to the playground, just after the new pool, to see the remnants of the original pool walls.

Just on the other side of the remaining wall, you’ll find a fun waterfall surprise.

The remnants of a previous time

When you enter the park you’ll notice the golf course. It’s the last golf course maintained by the Texas Parks & Wildlife, and from what I’ve seen, looks like a great place for some good practice. None of the holes look too challenging.

Just beyond the visitor’s center, you’ll notice the current swimming pool, but just behind that is a playground that sits next to the site of the Original swimming pool that was originally built by the CCC.

If you stop for a bit you can see the last of the walls that would’ve held in the water, but the main section is now covered in grass.

If you’re feeling adventurous walk over to the wall and listen for a fun surprise.

Learn more about the CCC and the history of Lockhart state park.

Water be dammed.

Water typically flows through Lockhart SP, and there are multiple sections where you’ll see historic dams that were built to slow the flow a bit. These can get a bit clogged, so the water doesn’t really seem like a great place to take a dip, but if you have a smaller fly rod or fishing pole, this park is apparently a great spot for fishing.

These will be noted as Check Dam 1-3 on the trail map and can be found in different sections of the park. My favorite visually is check dam number three. It’s at the far end of the park, but the way the water flows here is just fun, and it’s how you can access one of the woodsier trails. Just be careful because a lot of the rocks are wobbly.

Recreation Hall, Refrectory, Whatever it’s called nowadays

The current recreation hall has been used for a handful of different things over time. Built by the CCC in the 1930s this building was a dance hall and was also the golf course pro shop. Did I mention the golf? haha.

Golf was apparently a much bigger thing here than you think. Just next to the recreation hall is a windmill that was a hangout for golfers when the original tee box was there. It was the tallest tee box in Texas for a time but has since moved to the area down below which is now hole number six.

Head around back and imagine dancing on the historic dance floor on the cool summer nights. This makes a great place to sit and have some snacks. Very reminiscent of the dance floor at Garner State Park.

If you have some extra time, venture away from here and explore a picnic area no longer in use. It has picnic tables and some hidden fireplaces. You find these things at the CCC parks, and sometimes they’re in entire sections of the park that have been diverted as more people started to visit the park.

Hiking Trails

Hiking Lockhart state park was a bit different than the first trip, and you should know that there is a very important closure that wasn’t made clear upon entry.

TRAIL MAP

Trails hiked on this visit were:

  • CCC Trail
  • Caddy Trail (more on this one in a bit)
  • Chisolm Trail
  • Comanche Loop
  • Clear Fork Trail

Right off the bat just know the Caddy Trail doesn’t exist in the way it does on the map. The original plan was to hike the trail to the main road, cross the street, and then continue onto the Chisolm Trail. I hiked it twice trying to find where to go before giving up and starting over at the CCC trail.

I decided to just hike back to my vehicle and drive to where this trail was supposed to exit only to find that portion of the trails covered in tree branches. I asked upon check-in if there were any closures and was told there weren’t, so… glad the recreation hall had water faucets because I was pretty close to running out of water by that point. That is definitely something worth noting in my state park passport.

The CCC dam mentioned earlier is a great place to cross for the Clear Fork Trail. Hike along with the waterways in some intense foliage and tree overhangs. It felt like being in the Predator movies walking through the humidity and all of the green.

There are some great places to stop and admire the view of the water along the way, and at the time of this posting, the park was doing a reading and hiking tour at the beginning of this trail. The book that you could follow along with was ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. Follow the lovely story while hiking along the creek, so cool.

I talk a lot about trail runners for hiking, but at the end of the day I found myself back on this trail not wanting to complete the entire thing, so I was glad to be wearing my waterproof Merrell Moab’s. While my feet were still burning up, it was nice to know I could cross the creek and take a shortcut without having to worry about my feet getting soaked. So traditional hiking boots get a win there.

Biggest takeaways in 2021

The park felt familiar, but thanks to the difference in time of year, some of it was still really new. New trails, new plants, very green, lots of water.

This park offers some of what you can expect at some of the more popular parks, but I was the only one on the trail. I know posting about this place is counterproductive, but I want people to check this place out. It deserves more love than it gets for sure. The history here is also something I think people should take some time and read up on. The Native American history here also deserves some attention.

The Comanche Loop is merely just a side trail, but the trail takes you to an overlook that was used to keep an eye on intruders to this area. “Battle of Plum Creek” is a bit of history worth looking into, and I get it’s really hard to speak about the native inhabitants in the same breath as settlements in the central Texas area in a positive way, but this state has a ton of layers, so it’s helpful to try and soak it all in.

Painting of the Battle of Plum Creek. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Map to Lockhart State Park

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