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Virtual Highland Lakes: Kingsland Slab

The Llano River forms the swimming holes and sandy beaches of the Kingsland Slab on FM 3404 in Kingsland. The river flows east for a little over 100 miles through Kimble, Mason, and Llano counties before joining the Colorado River and Lake LBJ in the Highland Lakes. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell

The Kingsland Slab on the Llano River is more than a great place to swim for free. Prospectors pan for gold, anglers cast for spawning white bass, and hikers trek along the granite outcroppings, stopping often to cool off in shallow wading pools, deep swimming holes, or waterfalls.

The easiest place to enter the Slab area is the FM 3404 water crossing in Kingsland, where panning for gold has been permitted by the state for one mile in both directions.

Swimmers and floaters will find small rapids and water chutes to ride; sunbathers have sandy beaches and islands.

History buffs can uncover ancient campsites. Archeologists claim one site was actually a community cooking complex used by Native Americans.

Rock hunters also love the Slab for its quartz, granite, gneiss, flint, schist, feldspar, and limestone. Avid rock hounds can search for llanite, a rare brown granite with blue crystals and pink feldspar found only in the Llano area.

The area is mostly made up of the same type of pink granite quarried in Marble Falls to build the state Capitol in Austin. An igneous rock that bubbles up from under the Earth’s surface, pink granite is composed of feldspar, quartz, mica, and amphibole minerals of iron and magnesium. The color comes from potassium feldspar plagioclase, which contains calcium and sodium and forms striations in the rock.

As you can see, it is also a favorite for photographers seeking to capture a pristine, natural Texas landscape.

The Slab does have a downside: As it is not a maintained park, it has no drinking water or restrooms. It is also prone to flooding, so avoid it in rainy weather.

To fully enjoy, take your own water and snacks. Just take your trash back with you as you won’t find any trash cans in the area. Wear swim shoes and stay on the riverbed. Go too far inland and you’ll be trespassing on private property.

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