Watching a fall sunset across the lake with a fishing pole in one hand and a hamburger hot off the grill in the other sounds like a pretty nice way to spend a cool, fall evening.
If only there were somewhere around here to do it.
Great burgers and fabulous fishing is one way visitors describe Stillhouse Marina on Stillhouse Hollow Lake, just a short drive down Highway 190 from Killeen and Fort Hood. Located at 4596 Simmons Road, a few miles east of Harker Heights toward Belton, the marina offers a nice, little, always-open fishing pier, bait store and snack shop.
Known as one of the cleanest lakes in the state of Texas, Stillhouse offers a variety of activities, including boating, fishing, scuba diving, camping, hiking … and although there’s a lot of rain in the forecast right now, fall weather is officially on the way and there’s no better time around this part of the country to get outside and enjoy the scenery.
Construction to build the Stillhouse Hollow dam on the Lampasas River began in 1962 and was completed in 1968, creating the 6,000-plus acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir designed to provide flood control and fresh water for surrounding communities. Stocked for recreational fishing, the lake includes such popular varieties as largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass, catfish and crappie.
A little further east, just below the dam along FM 1670, is a popular spot for hikers at Chalk Ridge Falls Park, which features five miles of hiking and biking trails along the Lampasas River. Most of the hiking is fairly easy, although there are a few fairly good-size climbs to challenge the more enthusiastic trekkers, and the suspension bridge and waterfalls make it an enjoyable morning or afternoon walk in the park, great for families.
As always, a variety of local attractions are up and running for your outdoor pleasure:
Summer Fun Water Park, 1410 Waco Road in Belton, features multiple water slides, a lazy river, large swimming pool, and pavilions for parties. The park is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Admission prices: adults, $16; children three to 12 years old, $13; non-swimmers, $7; and seniors, free. The park offers discounted rates for admission after 3 p.m., and Sunday admission is $13 for all ages. Summer Fun also features teen and adult nights throughout the summer. Go to summerfunwaterpark.com for more information.
The Killeen Family Aquatics Center, 1800 E. Stan Schlueter Loop, includes a 10,360 square foot multi-use pool, a lap pool, bathhouse, three water slides, kid’s play area, shaded rest areas and more. Day passes range from $5 to $8 based upon age, with kids 3 years and under always free. The center is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 6:30 p.m.
Hancock Springs Free Flow Pool is one of the last free-flowing spring-fed pools in Texas with water staying at a cool 72 degrees no matter how hot it gets outside. The spring is at Hancock Park, Highway 281 South in Lampasas. Adult admission fee is $3.50 per day and seniors and children are $2.50. The pool is open Thursday-Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
Belton Lake Outdoor and Recreation Center, at the intersection of North Nolan Road and Cottage Road, has a number of activities for families to enjoy. Camping sites, picnic pavilions, horseback riding trails, hiking, mountain biking, as well as a man-made beach complete with a downhill water slide and more are available. Military patrons pay $3 per car; all others are $10 per vehicle. Visit hood.armymwr.com for more information.