Georgetown Lake, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Hill Country - Prairies and Lakes -

Also known as:  Lake Georgetown, Georgetown Reservoir

A perfect example of an engineered water supply, Georgetown Lake covers nearly 1,300 acres along the North Fork of the San Gabriel River. Part of the Brazos River system, Georgetown Lake was created in 1979 along the boundary between the Texas Hill Country and the Prairies and Lakes Regions just west of Georgetown. Originally planned as a flood control measure, Georgetown Lake now supplies water to the cities of Georgetown and Round Rock. Small by Texas reservoir standards, Georgetown Lake has a unique system of water replenishment in periods of drought in the form of a 28-mile long pipeline through which water is pumped from Stillhouse Hollow Lake, a much larger reservoir. This pipeline has allowed Georgetown Lake to meet its water obligations even during periods of prolonged drought such as the 2011 summer.

Built under the control of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Georgetown Lake is well-supplied with public use lands. In keeping with USACE policy, the Corps maintains control of the shoreline to the high-water mark, but plans recreational sites for public use as an integrated part of the project. Only 20 miles north of the fast-growing capital of Austin, Georgetown Lake serves as a recreational destination to a wide variety of visitors every year. Opened in 1981, development of recreation sites is on-going and their popularity is still growing. The northern shoreline is primarily sandy slopes while the southern shoreline is marked by dramatic sheer limestone cliffs. The more adventurous young visitors sometimes use the bluff for diving into the lake, but this practice is strongly discouraged due to fluctuating water levels and dangerous underwater obstructions.

Four main recreation areas offer restrooms, drinking water, hiking trails and boat ramps. Three of these have campgrounds, while one has a swim beach. Cedar Branch and Jim Hogg campgrounds offer RV pads, electrical hook-ups and water, while Russell Park has a number of tent-only sites and an additional five screened camping shelters with bunk beds. Other small recreation areas offer primitive campsites accessible only via the popular but strenuous 26-mile San Gabriel River Trail that circles the parameter of the lake. The trail portion on the north side of the reservoir is available for cycling. Much of the area is heavily wooded and ideal for bird watching and wildlife viewing. The 1200-acre Hunt Hollow Wildlife Management area is open for hunting in season with proper permits. Special regulations often apply, so hunters should become familiar with all regulations well in advance of arrival.

Georgetown Lake, like many Texas reservoirs, is prime bass fishing territory, particularly for smallmouth bass. Other species caught include largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, white bass, crappie, hybrid striped bass and a number of less desirable species. The shallower up-river reaches are well-supplied with underwater stumps, giving excellent cover for sport-fishing. Boat launch ramps are available at Cedar Branch, Jim Hogg and Russell Park, but there is no marina on the lake itself. As water levels regularly fluctuate up to 30 feet, visiting boaters would be wise to check conditions before making the trip just in case there isn’t sufficient water at the ramp area to allow for launch. All supplies will need to be carried in, as there is no facility that sells bait or fuel. Complete fishing and boating information, including special regulations are available at the Park Headquarters near the dam. The many coves and inlets make Georgetown Lake an ideal spot for canoeing and kayaking. Because of the limitations on launch sites, only smaller boats ordinarily use the lake.

The nearby small city of Georgetown is an inviting and friendly place to find lodgings for a trip to Georgetown Lake. The restored downtown area is one of the best examples of commercial Victorian architecture in Texas. Of particular scenic interest are the restored Williamson County Courthouse and the Old Williamson County Jail. The Palace Theater has been restored and converted from a movie house to live theater, with performances year round. And the Williamson Museum both offers permanent exhibits of local history and acts as host for a number of annual festivals such as “Chisholm Trail Days” at San Gabriel Park, “Pioneer Day” at Old Settlers Park, and “Archeology Day” at Berry Springs Park & Preserve. Georgetown is the home of the oldest institution of higher learning in Texas: Southwestern University. Something is always on the schedule at Southwestern, from film festivals to concerts to college sports. Georgetown also offers an interesting mix of restaurants, galleries, local craftsmen and unique shops. Those visitors wishing to have more modern amenities than can be found at a campsite can find modern hotel rooms and suites in Georgetown, with the lake only four miles away.

Due to the long drought in the past year, evidence of the historical and prehistoric past have been emerging from the waters of Georgetown Lake. The area along the San Gabriel River is known to have been a favored hunting and camp site of several local Native American tribes. Since the early days of European settlement, the former riverbanks held mills, fords and small homesteads. Many left their mark under the acres of water that deluged them with the building of the dam. Now, as water levels recede, unusual artifacts have occasionally begun to reappear. These reappearing artifacts are of great interest to both visitors and archaeologists, and visitors are warned not to disturb or attempt to remove any such ‘found’ objects. The lake is only a few miles from the famous Gault Site, where 60% of the known Clovis-type projectile points have been recovered through careful and concise archeological study. Such accidental finds emerging from the receding waters are of major interest to archaeologists, who must try to date them accurately based on the surroundings in which they were found. For this reason, any such finds must not be disturbed but reported to Park officials as soon as possible.

Those wishing to visit Georgetown Lake for a day of fishing or swimming will find convenient lodgings available in both Georgetown and Round Rock. Busy Austin is only a short distance to the south. There are no resorts or rental properties directly on Georgetown Lake, but several housing developments including condos have been built just outside of the perimeter, some with beautiful lake views. Occasionally, some may be found for short-term rental. Real Estate is available in the area but again, not on the lake itself. As the Georgetown area is an easy commute to Austin, these properties are becoming more popular. If this sounds like the kind of relaxed vacation you would enjoy, come to Georgetown Lake for a weekend or longer. The bass await, as do the campsites and nature trails. Will we see you soon?

Things to do at Georgetown Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Georgetown Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Blue Catfish
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • White Bass

Georgetown Lake Photo Gallery

Georgetown Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 1,297 acres

Shoreline Length: 23 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 791 feet

Maximum Depth: 85 feet

Water Volume: 37,010 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1979

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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