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Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown

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Offline dprather

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Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« on: April 06, 2018, 04:13:19 PM »
The BBC-facilitated partnership between JALCO and dprather continues.  The Lord willing, we will do the 26-mile Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown this coming Monday-Wednesday (Apr. 9-11).

As JALCO observes, the Goodwater is not a "destination" trail, but is centrally located and makes a good, springtime, shakedown trip.

We will be joined by my long-time trail amigo CarlF, and by rookie TomH.  All of us share a Christian worldview, and a passion for the outdoors and backpacking.   
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline PacingTheCage

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 08:38:54 AM »
Lived a two mile walk from the Russell Park trailhead for 28 years. Have hiked that trail many a time. Itís a nice trail. Have fun!


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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2018, 07:15:36 PM »
Weather looks good for it.  This is pretty decent backpacking for central Texas.  Boats do roar up and down the lake, and occasionally the view is marred by houses on the high ground to the north, but otherwise, there are times when it feels like real deal.

Back in January a friend I met at Guadalupe Mts NP backpacked out at Lake Georgetown when the temp dropped to SIXTEEN DEGREES F ! :icon_eek:

« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 08:55:56 PM by backpacker56 »
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline dprather

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2018, 09:57:37 AM »
This is the trip report for our Goodwater Trail/Lake Georgetown adventure.

Overview

My main backpacking amigo, CarlF, and I did this trail about 5 years ago, and we were surprised at how close some housing developments are to the trail.  This time, prepared for that, we were surprised about how few housing developments encroach on the experience.  With this slightly changed perspective after our second Goodwater, this trail has vaulted up several notches in my estimation. 

Circling a Corps of Engineers flood-control lake just west of Georgetown,  the Goodwater Trail is either 26 or 28 miles, depending on the source of your information.  Although some of the trail is exposed, most of the trail saunters beneath oak and cedar forests.  The slight elevation changes present very little challenge.  Hill-Country limestone does make for stump-your-toes footing. 

Water IS available along the trail.  The larger RV camps have spigots.  The lake and the the streams that feed it also provide plentiful, good water.

There are four distinct sections.  (Beginning at Cedar Breaks Park) The trail crosses the dam, and when you near the dame and are crossing the dam you are very exposed - plan to do this section early or late to avoid draining sun exposure.  The north shore trail is forested, and is much flatter than the south shore section.  The westernmost section, before and after Tejas Camp, is exposed.  The southern shore section is the most interesting with more elevation changes and more interesting historical features - walking the ledges high above the deep-blue lake, this section approaches very near to dramatic vistas.  Every camp site is gorgeous,of course, with the lake as a backdrop. 

As flat as it is, the Goodwater could be done as a one-nighter.  As a two-nighter, the Goodwater is a super introductory trail for beginners.  For old hands (and I do mean old*) a two-nighter around Lake Georgetown is a great way to stretch legs and have leisurely early-evening stops for telling lots of great war stories.

The lakeside campsites beg to be fished.   The next time I do the Goodwater, I'll take a rod and reel.

We saw a few people near the major trailheads/camps, but we saw zero people on the longer and more isolated sections (of course, we were there Monday -Wednesday)

Our Trip

CarlF, Tom H (new-to us) and I met JALCO at 7:30 AM on Monday, April 9 at Cedar Breaks park.  JALCO and I had met one before while doing the ERL in Arkansas.  TomH was a casual acquaintance before CarlF and I picked him up late Sunday evening for the drive to Georgetown.  Tom and I are ministers in, respectively, at Kountze and at Buna.  *Our ages range from 60 to 65.

I was the lynch-pin connection.  Knowing what I did about everyone, I sensed that we would have a great time together.  I was correct.   Our foursome instantly got along great.

Tom and JALCO are speed racers.  Carl and I follow a more deliberate pace.  Fueled by JALCO's wife's super-secret trail ration, Tom and JALCO sped ahead and occasionally waited for Carl and I to catch up.  This did not trouble us at all.

As backpacking trips go, especially those in the Bend where there are more physical challenges, this trip was uneventful. 

We began Monday morning and did 11 miles that day.  Tuesday was a bit shorter.  All that was left for Wednesday morning were about four hours of trail time.

Postscript: returning home toward the east, one of forced to choose between Louie Mueller's in Taylor and Southside Market in Elgin for BBQ.

Conclusion

The Goodwater Trail is a great Central-Texas trail, especially useful as a break-in experience for newcomers to the insanity of Backpacking. 

 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2018, 11:54:08 AM »
This is the trip report for our Goodwater Trail/Lake Georgetown adventure.

Sounds like a good hike.

Piqued, I took a look at the website, where I found this map.
http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/georgetown/Information/Hiking%20Trail%20Map.pdf

In reading the rules, I found the Corps of Engineers to be afflicted with the same inability to write clear regulations that plagues Big Bend.

Rule 6 says: "The taking of plants, animals, rocks, fossils, artifacts and other items is prohibited[/b] and punishable under Federal laws and regulations by fines up to $250000. Use of metal detectors permitted only in designated areas.

So, you can use metal detectors to find things, but you cannot take them? Yeah, right.

I wonder how that works in practice? Who believes the metal detecting user base principally consists of those who merely look at what they find and leave it where they found it? I don't. On the other hand, perhaps this just is a head fake and there are no "designated areas" where metal detectors may be used.

Actually, if you go to the regulations referenced in item 11 (a web link would be better, but the regulations are found without effort), you will find some more convoluted language regarding metal detectors (that must be pieced together from three separate sections). Essentially, you can keep most of what you find (generally coinage) unless it falls into some other protected category, or exceeds a certain value (jewelry could come under this). However, all the items located with a metal detector fall under the "lost and found" regulation and the requirement is that they must "be deposited by the finder at the Manager's office or with a ranger." Disposition, meaning what you get to keep, is determined by looking at other sections of the code. As before, I'm nearly completely positive this is what happens with approximately zero percent of items found via metal detecting (finding things like wallets, etc., generally has a better turn in rate due to folks doing the right thing; metal detecting...not so much).

Various other things are prohibited or required, except Rule 5: "Please pack out trash." For this one you merely are asked to remove your trash, not required.
Again, looking at the actual code, you will find trash removal is required.

However, as is the case with the NPS (and most other agencies) users do not do the research I just did and they will base their actions (if they care to abide by rules) on the information easily available. Thus, the information on the map handout is both incomplete and misleading.

Sheesh. Regulatory geniuses; must formerly have worked at Big Bend, where they developed their incredible skill writing this stuff.
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<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2018, 02:49:36 PM »
Do you camp in designated sites?  permits?

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Offline dprather

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2018, 06:30:39 PM »
Do you camp in designated sites?  permits?

This is Corps of Engineers-specific stuff.  There were no permits and no fees. 

We camped in the designated "backpacker" sites.  If you camp in one of the less rustic camp areas, you have to pay. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline dprather

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2018, 06:41:43 PM »
This is the trip report for our Goodwater Trail/Lake Georgetown adventure.

Sounds like a good hike.

Piqued, I took a look at the website, where I found this map.
http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/georgetown/Information/Hiking%20Trail%20Map.pdf

In reading the rules, I found the Corps of Engineers to be afflicted with the same inability to write clear regulations that plagues Big Bend.

Rule 6 says: "The taking of plants, animals, rocks, fossils, artifacts and other items is prohibited[/b] and punishable under Federal laws and regulations by fines up to $250000. Use of metal detectors permitted only in designated areas.

So, you can use metal detectors to find things, but you cannot take them? Yeah, right.

I wonder how that works in practice? Who believes the metal detecting user base principally consists of those who merely look at what they find and leave it where they found it? I don't. On the other hand, perhaps this just is a head fake and there are no "designated areas" where metal detectors may be used.

Actually, if you go to the regulations referenced in item 11 (a web link would be better, but the regulations are found without effort), you will find some more convoluted language regarding metal detectors (that must be pieced together from three separate sections). Essentially, you can keep most of what you find (generally coinage) unless it falls into some other protected category, or exceeds a certain value (jewelry could come under this). However, all the items located with a metal detector fall under the "lost and found" regulation and the requirement is that they must "be deposited by the finder at the Manager's office or with a ranger." Disposition, meaning what you get to keep, is determined by looking at other sections of the code. As before, I'm nearly completely positive this is what happens with approximately zero percent of items found via metal detecting (finding things like wallets, etc., generally has a better turn in rate due to folks doing the right thing; metal detecting...not so much).

Various other things are prohibited or required, except Rule 5: "Please pack out trash." For this one you merely are asked to remove your trash, not required.
Again, looking at the actual code, you will find trash removal is required.

However, as is the case with the NPS (and most other agencies) users do not do the research I just did and they will base their actions (if they care to abide by rules) on the information easily available. Thus, the information on the map handout is both incomplete and misleading.

Sheesh. Regulatory geniuses; must formerly have worked at Big Bend, where they developed their incredible skill writing this stuff.

While beset by rules (federal bureaucracies do what they do) the Goodwater Trail is virtually free  of bureaucrats.

In our two trips there, we have met two overeager volunteer hosts who "stickled" about a couple of really minor things, but their bark was toothless.  We were also passed by a guy in a "Park Ranger" truck who looked through us as if we were the invisible backpackers.

Backpacking is obviously not at the top of the concern heap here.  This is a trail primarily for (i) local blue-bloods to walk their dogs, and (ii) mountain biking.  That said, we saw virtually no one away from the major trailheads. 

This is a really nice trail, not a Big Bend or a Ouachita trail, but very, very nice.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 06:45:30 PM »

Postscript: returning home toward the east, one of forced to choose between Louie Mueller's in Taylor and Southside Market in Elgin for BBQ.
 

For me, this would have been the easiest decision of the trip.  Louie Mueller hands down.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline presidio

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 07:32:48 PM »
While beset by rules (federal bureaucracies do what they do) the Goodwater Trail is virtually free  of bureaucrats.

In our two trips there, we have met two overeager volunteer hosts who "stickled" about a couple of really minor things, but their bark was toothless.  We were also passed by a guy in a "Park Ranger" truck who looked through us as if we were the invisible backpackers.

Backpacking is obviously not at the top of the concern heap here.  This is a trail primarily for (i) local blue-bloods to walk their dogs, and (ii) mountain biking.  That said, we saw virtually no one away from the major trailheads.

The fact that it is not an NPS area is 99% responsible for that.

I have no doubt the regulatory atmosphere there is very relaxed, as it is on most other federal public lands.

I just was commenting upon the inartful way agencies (all of them) write rules. You'd think they'd have agency legal advice/review of this stuff. It leaves an impression that amateurs are doing the work without oversight.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline dprather

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2018, 10:30:04 PM »

Postscript: returning home toward the east, one of forced to choose between Louie Mueller's in Taylor and Southside Market in Elgin for BBQ.
 

For me, this would have been the easiest decision of the trip.  Louie Mueller hands down.

For us too, but the line was at least an hour long.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

*

Offline dprather

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2018, 10:31:47 PM »
While beset by rules (federal bureaucracies do what they do) the Goodwater Trail is virtually free  of bureaucrats.

In our two trips there, we have met two overeager volunteer hosts who "stickled" about a couple of really minor things, but their bark was toothless.  We were also passed by a guy in a "Park Ranger" truck who looked through us as if we were the invisible backpackers.

Backpacking is obviously not at the top of the concern heap here.  This is a trail primarily for (i) local blue-bloods to walk their dogs, and (ii) mountain biking.  That said, we saw virtually no one away from the major trailheads.

The fact that it is not an NPS area is 99% responsible for that.

I have no doubt the regulatory atmosphere there is very relaxed, as it is on most other federal public lands.

I just was commenting upon the inartful way agencies (all of them) write rules. You'd think they'd have agency legal advice/review of this stuff. It leaves an impression that amateurs are doing the work without oversight.

All good reason to skip the fine print and enjoy the trail.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2018, 11:01:48 PM »

Postscript: returning home toward the east, one of forced to choose between Louie Mueller's in Taylor and Southside Market in Elgin for BBQ.
 

For me, this would have been the easiest decision of the trip.  Louie Mueller hands down.

For us too, but the line was at least an hour long.

I'm not much for hour waits for food (unless its the Starlight) so I agree with you.  Many of the Taylor locals get their BBQ at the Taylor Cafe.  Not as good as Louie Mueller's but an interesting place and proprietor.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/bbq/pitmaster-interview-vencil-mares-of-taylor-cafe/



When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2018, 12:41:23 PM »
Do you camp in designated sites?  permits?
I've had many good trips at this park over the years, and always amazed what a sleeper it is.  Even at Spring Break it has not been crowded.  Mostly I've used the section between Tejas trailhead and Sawyer Camp, that is, south shore, upstream end.  There are places along this stretch that almost feel like wilderness, with some very inviting natural sites that would make great campsites.  I usually keep to the rules and stay at the designated site at Sawyer, but one time with two of my boys as youngsters, and caught short of our goal by sundown, we bent the rules and made camp at one of these natural sites.  It was really nice, more like a National Forest experience.

Thanks for the report, dprather.
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline presidio

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Re: Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2018, 01:21:18 PM »
I usually keep to the rules and stay at the designated site at Sawyer, but one time with two of my boys as youngsters, and caught short of our goal by sundown, we bent the rules and made camp at one of these natural sites.

And, likely, no resources nor sensibilities were harmed in any manner.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

 


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