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Backcountry camping in the Highland Lakes

A lightweight tent, basic supplies, safety tips, and a sense of adventure are all you need for backcountry camping in the Highland Lakes.

The definition of backcountry camping, or primitive camping, depends on who is doing the camping. While some want to backpack a mile or more into the wilderness with their own food and water, others prefer a tent thrown down near picnic tables, grills, and restrooms.

The Highland Lakes offers a variety of camping experiences for those seeking adventure in the great outdoors. Campsites can be found in remote areas on private and public lands where campers can commune with nature while still having access to hot showers, if that’s what you want.

Some of the best campsites in the Highland Lakes are below along with a list of basic tent-camping equipment that can be easily transported by backpack.

TENT CAMPING BASICS

  • Lightweight tent with bendable poles that wraps up into a small bundle
  • Sleeping bag or other lightweight bedding
  • First aid kit
  • Ax for chopping wood
  • Matches
  • Flashlights and/or head lamps
  • Rope
  • Tarp
  • Sunscreen and bug spray

If you are cooking, you’ll need a compact, light cook stove with fuel, some pans and utensils, and water. You might want to pre-pack snack bags for in-between meal noshing.

SAFETY TIPS

  • Never eat or store food in your tent.
  • Tie up food in a tree to keep it from wild animals.
  • Watch weather forecasts and plan clothing and extras accordingly.
  • Let someone staying behind know where you are going and when you are returning.

BURNET COUNTY CAMPING SITES

Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area*

2820 County Road 414 in Spicewood

Park is 654 acres with 9.8 miles of trails. Includes 34 campsites with access to non-flushing restrooms in the park and flushing restrooms and showers at the park entrance. Trails are used by hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.

Turkey Bend Recreation Area*

4000 Shaw Drive in Marble Falls

On the north shore of Lake Travis. Has 29 campsites with non-flushing toilets in the interior of its 1,146 acres and flushing restrooms at the park entrance. Picnic tables and grills are available. Campsites are $12 a night.

Krause Springs

424 County Road 404 in Spicewood

Owned by the Krause family since 1955, the 115 acres of spring-fed land is on the National Registry of Historical Sites. The 32 springs on the property feed a lush, green flora that is home to a myriad of birds and other wildlife. Primitive tent camping is available as well as RV sites. Call (830) 693-4181 for more information.

Shaffer Bend Recreation Area*

706 County Road 343A in Marble Falls

Campers can hike, mountain bike, or ride horses on this 508-acre park on Lake Travis. Picnic tables and grills available. Non-flushing toilets within the acreage; flushing toilets at the park entrance.

Camp Creek Park*

1221 County Road 343 in Marble Falls

Forty acres on the north shore of Lake Travis shaded by large pecan trees. Fire rings and grills available along with 16 campsites and non-flushing restrooms.

Canyon of the Eagles

16942 Rand Road 2341 in Burnet

Walk-in-only campsites are located on Tanner Point, a small peninsula on Lake Buchanan. Offers picnic tables, fire pits, a dumpster, and port-a-potty access. Campers have access to RV bath house with restroom and showers as well as park amenities and resort dining. Also available are drive-up campsites near or on the lake at Chimney Slough. From $30 a night. Call (512) 334-2070.

Reveille Peak Ranch

105 County Road 114 in Burnet

Features 250-plus primitive campsites for Friday and Saturday night camping. Someone in the camping group must be registered to mountain bike or run the trails with an event or a scuba group. Contact info@rprtexas.com or (512) 755-4417.

Inks Lake State Park

3630 Park Road 4 West in Burnet

Variety of campsites available with electricity and water. Nine primitive sites are available 1.58 miles from the ranger station. No ground fires or pets allowed in primitive areas. No water available either, but a primitive toilet is on the trail. Permits are required. Call (512) 389-8900 to make reservations.

LLANO COUNTY

Cedar Point Recreation Area*

545 Ranch Road 3014 in Tow

A 310-acre park on the north shore of Lake Buchanan with nine campsites. Picnic tables and grills available; non-flushing toilets. Campsites are $12 a night. Entrance fee is $5 for ages 13 and older and $2 for campers with disabilities and seniors. Children 12 and younger get in free.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

16710 Ranch Road 965 in Fredericksburg

Outdoor composting toilets are available at the 20 primitive campsites at Moss Lake and Walnut Springs in the Enchanted Rock park. No ash-producing fires are permitted. No water is available, and campers must hike 1-3 miles over rugged terrain to the sites. Call (512) 389-8900 for more information. Reservations may be made online.

Long’s Fish and Dig

822 County Road 321 in Kingsland

While camping at Long’s Fish and Dig, you might also be on the lookout for arrowheads, precious stones, and even gold (although prospecting costs extra). The property along the Llano River has been owned by the same family for more than 100 years and been a fishing and camping favorite for just as long. Call (325) 388-6131 for more information.

Oxford Ranch Campground

11380 Texas 16 South in Llano

Both a working cattle ranch and a campground deep in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, this privately owned facility has a large area for tent camping. The tree-studded property is perfect for hammock camping. Wood can be purchased on site. Includes showers and restrooms. Picnic tables and fire pits can be found throughout the area. Cash or check only. No reservations needed. Call (325) 247-1639 for more information.

*Property of the Lower Colorado River Authority. Most LCRA campsites are $12 a night. Group campsites $22 a night. Call (855) 392-7638 for reservations and information. Reservations may be made online.

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