Lake Nacogdoches, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Piney Woods -

Also known as:  Nacogdoches Lake, Lake Nac, Nacogdoches Reservoir

Lake Nacogdoches, located in the Piney Woods region of Texas, is known for excellent fishing, wildlife viewing, boating, and all types of water sports: swimming, sailing, kayaking, water skiing, jet skiing, wake boarding, knee boarding, and tubing. The summer drought of 2011 lowered water levels, uncovering a large piece of a space shuttle. The discovery attracted much outside attention, bringing many sightseers to the normally peaceful reservoir. That’s exactly what happened when a hydrogen tank from the doomed 2003 Columbia Space shuttle tragedy emerged with the newly- exposed mud flats at the reservoir. The find was not totally unexpected as much of the debris from the Columbia rained down across East Texas that sad day. Still, it’s not the kind of ‘catch’ most visiting anglers come here hoping to make.

NASA will haul the shuttle debris away to their laboratories, and Lake Nacogdoches will return to a peaceful place to enjoy the water and the sounds of nature. The 2,200-acre reservoir holds a number of private homes along its southern banks, while the northern terminus disappears into the Bayou Loco. The lake was created in 1976 when the Bayou Loco, a tributary of the Angelina River, was dammed. The reservoir provides a water supply and recreational opportunities for the City of Nacogdoches 10 miles to the east. In keeping with the recreational intent, the city maintains two small parks at the lake, which provide a swimming area, picnic tables, boat launch, playground and rest rooms. Westside Park offers a short nature trail. No camping is available at either park, but there is ample camping in the surrounding area as the Piney Woods is a favorite vacation area for Texas and Louisiana residents.

Lake Nac, as it is sometimes called, is becoming well-known as a fishing destination. Most sought-after are largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, sunfish and catfish. The catfish are said to grow huge, although they are not numerous. Largemouth bass tend to be the main target of anglers. Guide service is available locally for the angler determined to catch his limit. The boat ramps are suitable for smaller fishing-type boats and should handle speed boats suitable for water skiing and the like. There is no local marina, so visiting boaters are reminded to bring their own fuel. Residents have private docks and maintain their own facilities for water access. A disk golf course is located very near the lake and is highly popular, even with those new to the sport. Several regular public golf courses in the area will keep the avid golfer contained while the rest of the family relaxes on the water.

Located on the Gulf of Mexico coastal plain, the Piney Woods usually receives far more rain than the rest of the state, with higher ground usually covered with a variety of evergreen and mixed hardwoods. Only 10 miles from the City of Nacogdoches and Stephen F. Austin State University, property around Lake Nacogdoches is highly desirable for both vacation homes and year-round living. New developments and lots are being made available for building, although development will be tightly controlled to protect the lake views and the natural habitat. Cottontails, squirrels, opossum, whitetail deer and the occasional bear or red wolf can be seen near the lake. A wide variety of birds and waterfowl enjoy the usually quiet shorelines, making it an ideal place for canoeing.

Visitors to Lake Nacogdoches will usually find lodgings around the City of Nacogdoches. This interesting town, reputed to be the oldest real town in Texas, has preserved much of its historical character. The town claims to have been governed under a total of nine flags: In addition to the Six Flags of Texas, it also flew under the flags of the Magee-Gutierrez Republic, the Long Republic, and the Fredonia Republic. People from the United States began to settle in Nacogdoches in 1820 and Texas’ first English-language newspaper was published there. In 1859, the first oil well in Texas began operation here, although it is nowhere near as famous as Spindletop, drilled in 1901 near Beaumont.

A completely modern small city, Nacogdoches has a number of hotels and motels, and a surprising number of bed-and-breakfasts, vacation cabins and RV campgrounds. The Nacogdoches Visitors’ Center is located downtown in the Historic District with its brick streets and several preserved period homes available for touring.

The Stone Fort Museum on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University was never actually a fort and has a long and varied history, including being the site of campus unrest in 1942. Now the museum presents exhibits of local historical periods. Currently offered is the history of 200 years of African-American residents in the Nacogdoches area dating back to Spanish rule. The Sterne-Hoya House Museum and Library is of particular interest to genealogists as the library contains a collection of local reference material for research. And the Millard’s Crossing Historic Village is a collection of homes and buildings such as a log school house moved to the site and restored to contain period artifacts and furnishings. Along with its rich history, visitors to Nacogdoches will find arts, cultural events, fine dining, night life and shopping.

Ten miles west of Lake Nacogdoches is the Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site, where history buffs can view evidence of the Caddoan Mound Builders who inhabited the area for 500 years beginning about A.D. 800. The park offers exhibits and an interpretive trail through its reconstructed sites of Caddo dwellings and ceremonial areas, including two temple mounds, a burial mound, and a village area. South of the lake near Lufkin, the 2000-acre Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area is a haven for hunters in fall and winter and for birdwatchers year round.

Lake Nacogdoches offers something for everyone. A few private homes are available for weekly rental and usually provide a swim dock and often a small boat. It’s the perfect place to beat the heat of a hot Texas summer. At around three hours from Dallas, Houston and Port Arthur, you’ll start thinking what an ideal weekend or retirement home site the lake is. So come spend a few days in Nacogdoches and check out everything Lake Nac has to offer. You likely won’t find any space shuttle artifacts, but you may well find your heart has been in the Piney Woods all along – you just didn’t know it yet!

Things to do at Lake Nacogdoches

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Nacogdoches

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Sunfish

Lake Nacogdoches Photo Gallery

Lake Nacogdoches Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Nacogdoches

Surface Area: 2,212 acres

Shoreline Length: 16 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 279 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 270 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 279 feet

Average Depth: 15 feet

Maximum Depth: 40 feet

Water Volume: 39,521 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1976

Drainage Area: 89 sq. miles

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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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