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Discovering the Lake Buchanan waterfall

The Fall Creek waterfall on Lake Buchanan is on the northern Colorado arm of the lake, about 20 miles north of Buchanan Dam. The experience of seeing the natural beauty of the waterfall is worth the effort to reach its remote location. Staff photo by Jared Fields

Immediately after posting the photo to social media, I received not just comments but text messages from people asking where this beautiful site was.

It couldn’t be in the Highland Lakes. But where did I go? The tropics? The Caribbean?

No. Indeed this waterfall is in the Highland Lakes.

Lake Buchanan to be exact.

The Fall Creek waterfall, located on far north Lake Buchanan, is unknown to many in the area because of its remote location.

Twenty miles upriver from Buchanan Dam, the Lake Buchanan waterfall is a reward to those who take the time to venture there.

The journey began one morning when Lake Buchanan was near full, at 1,018 feet. It’s a level not seen since 2008. My co-worker invited me to go with him on his bass boat to see the Lake Buchanan waterfall and get photos for work. It was not a bad day at the office.

We put the boat in at the Llano County Park, located next to the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Black Rock Park at 3400 RR 261 in Buchanan Dam. We wanted to make a circle around the lake. If you go just for the waterfall, I suggest driving farther north to Cedar Point Recreation Area on the Llano County side of Lake Buchanan. It is located at 545 RR 3014 in Tow.

Making our way up the western edge of the lake, we had to slow our speed a few times to navigate full-grown trees suddenly submerged just below the surface. Trees have grown in the shallow portions of the lake that have been exposed for more than five years. As recently as June 2015, the lake’s water level was 20 feet lower than the day we went out.

Be prepared to navigate the new growth and floating driftwood as you get farther north on the Colorado River. Parts of the open channel can seem like you are in an East Texas lake or the swamps of Louisiana.

You clear the trees and enter the straight and see a steep cliff ahead. But where is the waterfall?

That’s when it appears.

And even though you’re looking at this 30-foot waterfall, you still can’t believe it exists. The tall boulder provides another landmark to view. This is a time to drop anchor and swim for a bit or just sit and relax. The sound of the waterfall is the only thing you can hear.

When the water is lower, there is a sand bar near the waterfall. Currently, it is about 6 feet below the water, so be sure to check your depth-finder as you approach the Fall Creek waterfall. You can quickly glance the current lake levels before heading out on the lake here.

Eventually, time comes to leave. Lake Buchanan is known as a fisherman’s lake, so most of the boats are smaller fishing craft. The large, southern section of the lake can become choppy if it is windy, so don’t plan on zooming full-blast across the lake unless you’re in a larger ski boat. If you stop on an island or along a public-access point on the shore beware of snakes. The accumulation of driftwood among the shores has created a haven for snakes.

Two men fish near a submerged tree June 25, 2016, on Lake Buchanan. Many full-grown trees poke above the surface, or are just hidden below the water. Staff photo by Jared Fields

With the rise of Lake Buchanan in the last year, one helpful resource for fishermen comes from the Lake Buchanan Conservation Corp. They’ve placed 21 brush piles around the lake as fish attractors. You can get GPS coordinates to them here.

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