Lake Livingston, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Piney Woods -

Also known as:  Livingston Reservoir

Sometimes referred to as a “water wonderland,” Lake Livingston is the second largest lake contained entirely within Texas. With over 450 miles of shoreline, it covers 83,000 acres and runs through four different counties: Polk, Walker, San Jacinto, and Trinity. The Trinity River Authority created Lake Livingston, under contract with the City of Houston, for municipal, industrial, and agricultural water supply. The Authority completed the Lake Livingston Dam in 1969, creating a reservoir 39 miles long and 7 miles wide at its widest. At 2-1/2 miles long and an average height of 55 feet, the dam controls the flow of the Trinity River. Several communities dot the shoreline making it an excellent place to live or visit.

Lake Livingston is only 80 miles north of Houston, making it an ideal weekend getaway or day trip. Noted for its boating opportunities, Lake Livingston has over 100 boat launching ramps in state parks, resorts, home communities, and marinas around the lake. However, due to the size of the lake there is usually plenty of room on the water for pontoon boats, speed boats, ski boats, and fishing boats, even on busy holiday weekends. To take full advantage of the water, head to the lake during the week when you will have it almost to yourself.

Besides boating, Lake Livingston offers hiking, picnicking, swimming, geocaching, 5,000 campsites, and fishing in several parks along the shore. Lake Livingston State Park, located one mile southwest of the town of Livingston, offers mountain biking, hiking and equestrian trails along with a swimming pool, campsites, nature study and a lighted fishing pier. The park is located near the ghost town of Swartwout, a steamboat landing in the 1830s and the meeting place of Polk County’s first commissioners court. Wolf Creek Park, managed by the Trinity River Authority, is located near Cape Royale, a lake community with abundant wildlife and an 18-hole golf course. The park has camping, water sports, fishing and boating. There are 30 campsites for RV’s, 54 tent sites with water and electricity, and 19 campsites with water only. The park has a marina to launch personal watercraft and boat rentals for those who don’t have their own boat.

Known for its catfish and white bass fishery, a day at Lake Livingston would not be complete without a little fishing. Lake Livingston is often referred to as the “Catfish Capital of Texas.” Fish records include a 78-pound blue catfish, a 114-pound flathead catfish, a 12.88-pound hybrid striped bass and a 31.5-pound striped bass. Fishing is great from shore as well as in a boat, so anyone with a rod and reel stands a good chance of catching something. Other fish in the lake include largemouth bass, blue gill, channel catfish, white bass, and black crappie.

If wildlife is where your interests lie, then Lake Livingston is definitely a place you want to visit or have a second home. White tail deer roam the shores and area communities along with opossums, raccoons, squirrels and foxes. Located just off the Texas Coastal Birding Trail, Lake Livingston is not short on bird varieties either. Some of the more common birds are cardinals, blue jays, humming birds, road runners, eagles, snowy egrets, turkey vultures, blue herons, and ducks. The humming birds are most commonly seen in early May and leave the area by the end of September. Eagles are best seen during the winter months all along East Texas and down the coastline. Birds and mammals are not the only wildlife common along the shores of the lake. Watch out for alligators, which can be found living in the creeks, and always be aware of poisonous snakes including water moccasins and rattlesnakes.

Lake Livingston has pleasant weather most of the year with winter averages of 55 degrees, spring and fall averages of 75 degrees, and summer averages of 92 degrees. The lake, which is kept at a constant level with typical variations of one to two feet, has an average depth of 23 feet with the deepest water near the dam at 90 feet. During your drive to Lake Livingston in the spring, you will be assured of seeing the famous Bluebonnets from March to early May along with Indian Paint Brush, Indian Blankets, and Buttercups.

Whether a weekend trip or a year-round weekend home, Lake Livingston is one of the best kept secrets just an hour north of Houston. Check out the vacation rentals, which include waterfront homes, boat houses, and acreage in the many small coves that make up Lake Livingston. Pack up the kids, grab your fishing poles, and head to the Piney Woods of East Texas.

Things to do at Lake Livingston

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Lake Livingston

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

Lake Livingston Photo Gallery

Lake Livingston Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Trinity River Authority

Surface Area: 83,000 acres

Shoreline Length: 450 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 131 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 58 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 135 feet

Average Depth: 23 feet

Maximum Depth: 90 feet

Water Volume: 1,750,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1969

Drainage Area: 2,672 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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