BELTON — Stillhouse Hollow Lake is a family treasure for many area residents, including Matthew Shugars of Temple.
On Sunday, he and his wife, Katie, and their son, Hunter, 4, visited Stillhouse Park on the south side of the lake. The family enjoys the outdoor lake activities that allow the children to escape video games and TV.
“When you are out in the heat of the day and doing something you like to do, it’s not as miserable,” Shugars said. “It’s just a very relaxed atmosphere. You get to hear the wildlife, see the deer and we really enjoy being outside.”
He was born at Fort Hood and graduated from high school in Belton, and lake activities made good memories. Now, he is passing the experience on to his family.
Shugars remembered a time when water levels were much higher and he’d have to swim out to the island in the middle of the lake.
“With the water being down now, you can actually walk across the island and explore that without a boat,” he said.
The Shugars typically pitch a tent and camp out at Dana Peak or Union Grove parks.
“We like to come out to this area in particular because it has the horseshoe set and the volleyball, and we can also get in the water to cool off,” said Katie Shugars, a former teacher and now full-time mom. “We used to come out with the family on Sundays and do a little Bible study before getting in the water. ... We come out here probably once a month at least.”
The shaded areas and variety of available activities continues to attract the family to the lake.
“We bring out the raft and it’s just nice to get away from the heat,” she said. “We love barbecuing, and we always bring some sort of steak or hot dogs.”
The Shugars said they also enjoy hiking around the lake.
Despite the overcast skies that were threatening rain Sunday, the Shugars were not alone at Stillhouse Park. Miguel Casteneda of Killeen was fishing with his girlfriend, Mayra Serrato, and his son, Mikey.
“I heard there was good fishing and that the water is pretty clean,” Casteneda said. “It’s relaxing in nature. Even if we don’t catch nothing, it’s just good to be outside and catch some sun.”
Casteneda, a Fort Hood soldier, said his family usually spends the weekends at the movies or at home.
“That gets tiring, too,” he said. “I used to be big into fishing and that’s why I wanted to come out here.”
He appreciates the lake’s proximity to his home in Killeen and that the park allows him to bring his dog, Borly.
“It looks like they keep it really clean,” Casteneda said. “Most places you go to you see beer cans everywhere and random trash. It’s really good because you don’t want that ugly look around everywhere when you go to chill out.”
Stillhouse Hollow Lake has several other parks that offer camping, picnic sites, swimming, hiking and other outdoor activities. For more information go to www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/stillhouse.