10 fall bucket list adventures in the Highland Lakes
Build your bucket list for a fall trip to the Highland Lakes with help from 101HighlandLakes.com, your guide to adventure in Burnet, Marble Falls, Kingsland, Llano, Spicewood, Horseshoe Bay, and beyond.
Sometime toward the end of September, temperatures usually dip below 90, marking the perfect time for nature-based adventures in the Highland Lakes. In between, plan stops at local wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Here are our top 10 Fun Things to Do in the Highland Lakes in the fall.
Visit any and all of the five public bird blinds and viewing stations in the Highland Lakes to get a close look at the birds migrating through the area each fall. You can also visit Canyon of the Eagles or take a tour on the Vanishing Texas River Cruise, which winds its way up the arm of the Colorado River that flows into Lake Buchanan, where a variety of raptors nest for the winter, including American bald eagles.
The state’s only year-round chairlift takes bikers and hikers 350 feet to the summit of Spider Mountain on the shores of Lake Buchanan. A series of descending trails ranked by difficulty await beginners to extreme mountain bikers at the bike park. A hiking trail offers an alternative descent by foot. Of course, you can also ride back down in the chairlift. A wristband gets you as many rides as you want during a designated period of time.
3. Set up camp
Whether you want to backpack a mile or more into the wilderness with your own food and water or prefer to pitch a tent near picnic tables, grills, and restrooms, the Highland Lakes has it all. Campsites are available at Texas state parks and natural areas, Lower Colorado River Authority facilities, or private parks across Burnet and Llano counties.
Go ahead and put up the boat for the winter (after cleaning off the zebra mussels). The Highland Lakes provides plenty of opportunities to fish from the shore in city, state, and LCRA parks. If you want to know what kind of fish you’ll find in which lakes, check out our list right here.
If it’s still too hot to hike, take a 90-minute walking tour in the cool, dark recesses of Longhorn Caverns. You’ll descend along clearly marked trails 135 feet into the earth, where the temperature is a constant 68 degrees. You’ll learn about the history of the caverns, which have served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, a Native American meeting hall, and a source of gunpowder (bat guano) for Confederate soldiers.
7. Go hunting
For many, fall in the Highland Lakes means hunting, beginning with dove hunting and followed by deer, turkey, and quail (just not in that order). By the way, you can hunt for feral hogs year-round. If you’re not into shooting things, you can always go bargain hunting at the many shops in Highland Lakes.
Discover the wonders of the night sky at the Eagle Eye Observatory at Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park and Resort on Lake Buchanan. Several telescopes are housed in a sliding-roof observatory complete with computer-enhanced imaging. You can also set up your own telescopes at a number of other stargazing spots across the Highland Lakes, including the Kingsland Slab and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
The Highland Lakes has an impressive list of haunted houses, roads, jails — you name it. You can even eat a delicious meal in the very house where the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was filmed. Find out about the haunted Red Top Jail, a murderous hitchhiker on U.S. 281, and ghost prints at Old Oak Square in Marble Falls, where you can also do a little shopping.
Fall is the best hiking time of the year in the Highland Lakes. The weather is cooling off, the colors are changing, and wildlife is on the move. We have a whole guide for hiking the hills and trails in Burnet and Llano counties and beyond. You can trek through the granite formations around Inks Lake at Inks Lake State Park, climb the batholith that is Enchanted Rock, or discover the vistas at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. The choices are endless.
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