Lake Houston, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Gulf Coast - Piney Woods -

Lake Houston is located about 20 miles northeast of Houston and serves as the city’s primary water supply. The lake’s proximity to the big-city attractions of Houston and the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, as well as quaint suburban towns and nature parks, has made the lake a pleasant compromise between city and country. Lake Houston is located on the border of the Piney Woods and Gulf Coast tourism regions.

Lake Houston was created by the city of Houston to replace Sheldon Lake as the city’s main water supply. Construction on the Lake Houston Dam was completed in 1954, with the earth-filled dam spanning 8,656 feet across the San Jacinto River and measuring 62 feet high. Since its completion, Lake Houston has enticed Houston residents with its convenient location and cool waters. Several lakeside communities and golf courses have sprung up around the lake, allowing residents to take advantage of the lake’s thirst-quenching views.

The city of Houston made the lake even more attractive to anglers through stocking of largemouth bass, palmetto bass, striped bass, and catfish. In addition, the lake is home to white crappie, bluegill, carp, and tilapia. Fishing tournaments are held frequently, especially in the summer. But you don’t have to be an angler to enjoy your day on the lake–boating, water skiing, and swimming are all acceptable ways of appreciating what Lake Houston has to offer.

For nature lovers, Lake Houston Park offers an unexpected oasis. The park stretches across nearly 5,000 acres north of Houston. Although the park does not directly access Lake Houston, visitors can canoe and kayak the creeks and tributaries surrounding the lake. The park offers 12 miles of hiking trail and 8 miles of trail for equestrians. The heavily wooded park provides a perfect opportunity for bird watching, and visitors may even catch a glimpse of the deer that inhabit the surrounding woods. Overnight camping is available at the park, and there are even a few lodges for rent that contain kitchens and air conditioning, for those who prefer not to “rough it.” Be sure not to leave the park without visiting the Lake Houston Park Nature Center, where guests can learn more about both forest and wetland habitats, as well as many of the park’s resident creatures.

For those who want to enjoy nature and be closer to the city, Duessen Park is an ideal destination. Located at the southern tip of Lake Houston, Duessen Park offers public boat ramps as well as piers for fishing, or just for people watching. The park contains many family-friendly amenities, including playgrounds, picnic shelters, and ball fields.

An overview of Lake Houston wouldn’t be complete without a brief mention of the many activities available in nearby Houston. There are of course large-city amenities such as fine dining and shopping. But history buffs might enjoy a visit to the nearby San Jacinto Battleground and a tour of the Battleship Texas. There is also the Johnson Space Center, where visitors can see actual spacecraft used in NASA missions, as well as spacewalk simulators. Museums, professional athletic games, theater–these are just a few of the myriad of activities available just minutes from the shores of Lake Houston.

Lake Houston has a little something for everyone–nature lovers and city slickers alike. Whether you want to hike a pristine forest trail or dine in a five-star restaurant, a visit to Lake Houston truly offers the best of both worlds.

Things to do at Lake Houston

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Houston

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Tilapia
  • White Crappie

Lake Houston Photo Gallery

Lake Houston Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Houston

Surface Area: 12,240 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 44 feet

Maximum Depth: 45 feet

Water Volume: 146,700 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1954

Drainage Area: 2,828 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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