Complete Guide to Kayaking in Austin, TX

Last Updated on May 18, 2021 by KayakPro

When I first visited Austin, TX, I was busy thinking about eating at well-known places everyone talks about!  While this was excellent for my taste buds, I wasn’t enjoying the beauty that Austin has to offer. So on my next trip, I decided to make it all about nature, doing what I love – kayaking. 

I’ve reviewed the best spots to kayak here, finding kayaking in Austin, TX is an excursion that can be done alone or with friends.  

LADY BIRD LAKE

Kayaking at Lady Bird Lake can take anywhere from 1 to 6 hours depending on the water level that day and the wind speed.  There are 8 access points within 3 different loops. 

A total of 416 acres make up this kayaking lake.  This reservoir was created in 1960, with a primary inflow and outflow of the Colorado River. 

This gorgeous lake was originally called Town Lake.  It is the easternmost of all the rivers that make up this chain of reservoirs on the Colorado River.

Wildlife

Lady Bird Lake has ample wildlife, such as raccoon, fish, various birds, squirrels, and other wildlife.  Keep your eyes peeled for the 1.5 million bats that swarm the area at night!

Camping

Plan to spend the night at Lady Bird along the shoreline of Emma Long Metropolitan Park. With the lakeside beach, this is the perfect way to unwind at the end of a day on the water.

Fishing

I enjoyed fishing while at Lady Bird Lake.  Sunfish, large common carp, and other 20 to 30-pound fish are caught frequently by those that enjoy casting their reels while taking a break from kayaking.  Water conditions are clear, so I found this to be a  wonderful spot to fish at night for largemouth bass.

Hiking

Trails are located on both sides of the lake, offering 10 miles to explore. 

LAKE AUSTIN

Lake Austin was formed in 1939 as Lake McDonald.  With a maximum depth of 75 feet, this lake has an impressive surface area of 1,599 acres.  I loved how the water was clear to slightly strained. 

If you need a tour of the lake, consider hitting up Lakeway Marina.  Here you will single and double kayaks to inexpensively rent.

Fishing and Bank Entrance

While you are kayaking, you may want to take a break to fish.  Keep in mind though that many of the shorelines at Lake Austin are privately owned.  However, there are a few bank access points, which can be found at Loop 360 and three others.  At Loop 360, you can have a picnic before or after kayaking, as there are plenty of tables and grills.  Portable toilets are also here, but there is not any running water or electricity.

Fish species that can be fished for include Catfish, Sunfish, and Largemouth Bass. 

 Much panfishers fish along the wood debris and the weedlines edge. 

Other Amenities

Many businesses close to Lake Austin rent motorized boats or pontoons.  Jet skiing is a popular sport at this lake.

After kayaking, consider a well-deserved trip to the Lake Austin Resort to improve your body, mind, and spirit.  

SAN MARCOS RIVER

The San Marcos River is an amazing sight to see with hundreds of springs flowing into it.  I immensely enjoyed the clean and clear  72-degree water, which is constant all year long.  This calm river will allow you to experience class 1 or 2 rapids.

Recreational Sports

Besides kayakers on the river, other recreational sports are fishing, tubing, snorkeling, and swimming.  Those who are tubing can leave their cars at the starting point and have a shuttle service bring them back once completed.

Events

San Marcos River is home to the Texas Water Safari, a yearly event that claims to be the world’s toughest canoe race. 

An annual spring clean up is also planned to keep the river in its best shape so we can enjoy its beauty to the fullest extent. 

WALTER E. LONG LAKE (DECKER LAKE)

Walter E. Long Lake is an open lake featuring 1,200 acres. After a day on the lake,  visitors can also have picnics, play sand volleyball or hike/walk/bike in the park.

 You will need to visit during park hours, have a park entry pass, and be required to pay a fee to access the park.  If you have a furry friend that kayaks with you, this lake is dog friendly.

Walter E. Long Lake has clear to slightly strained water conditions for your kayaking trip.  The water remains at a near constant level of 555 ft msl and a maximum depth of 60 ft., so kayakers do not need to ever worry about how deep the waters are.

Aquatic Vegetation

If you like viewing nature during your kayaking excursion, Walter E. Long Lake has plenty of gorgeous hydrillas, pondweed species, bulrush, coontail, and southern naiad.

Fishing

While kayaking, you can take a break and enjoy fishing catfish, sunfish, largemouth bass, and hybrid striped bass, which are stocked annually. 

LAKE TRAVIS

Lake Travis is the most visited fresh water lake in Texas.  With a wide variety of activities and events, you may wish to plan an entire weekend for your kayaking journey. 

If you are in need of renting kayaks, Lakeway Marina offers an inexpensive way to have fun. 

Parks

A whopping 15 parks are operated on Lake Travis.  Some offer camping, beaches, picnic areas, and more to utilize before or after a kayaking session.  There may be fees associated with some of these parks. 

Recreational Activities

Shoreline fishing can be found at many parks.  At Pace Bend Park, you will find the opportunity to horseback ride, camp, and explore.  Hippie Hollow Park provides a chance to go swimming with the option of going nude.Many kayakers will make a weekend of this by planning activities around their kayaking adventure.

Fishing

Largemouth bass, white bass, striped bass, Guadalupe bass, and other fish have all been caught at Lake Travis.  Spring and fall have been the best time to capture largemouth bass, so if you fancy these fishing after kayaking on the lake, plan your trip accordingly. 

Summary

Kayaking in Austin, TX provides many fun and amazing experiences.  In one day alone, you can kayak, fish, picnic, swim, play volleyball, and take a hike.  It is an awesome way to get out and enjoy nature while making great memories. 

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Ryan Stoltz

Ryan Stoltz

Avid kayaker and lover of the outdoors. Having been kayaking for over 7 years, I love sharing my experiences and learnings along the way. Currently kayaking in upstate New York and always open to new adventures!

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