South of Buchanan Lake (which is far larger) you will find Inks Lake State Park in Burnet, Texas. This Texas State Park is small, but it’s amenities make up for its size. Hike to the highest point in the park and take in the views, play in the water, or stay the night. The possibilities are numerous, and you could easily spend several days at this park. In fact, there are at least 10 dog friendly things to do at Inks Lake.
10 Things to Do at Inks Lake State Park
- Hike with your dog on nine different trails
- Swim with your dog at Devil’s Waterhole
- Find hidden treasures by geocaching
- Stay in a cabin or primitive site
- Boat on the lake
- Scuba dive
- Take a canoe tour
- Fish at Stumpy Hollow
- View wildlife from the Bird Blind
- Purchase snacks, supplies and souvenirs
We visited Inks Lake State Park in the winter to hike the trails with our dog. There are only eight miles of hiking trails, but they are all dog friendly. Additionally, the trails are fairly easy to hike. Some of the rocky areas may be moderately difficult, but they are not challenging.
The water level was quite low during our visit and the temperature made it too cool for a swim. Several people were fishing, and many more were visiting with an RV. The park has nearly 200 campsites including cabins and primitive areas. Although Inks Lake is dog friendly, they do not allow dogs in cabins, or primitive areas.
How to Get to Inks Lake State Park
Address: 3630 Park Rd 4 W, Burnet, TX 78611
Fees: $6 if you do not hold a Texas State Parks Pass
This Texas State Park is easy to find between Buchanan Lake and Longhorn Cavern. Park Road 4 is the only way into the park. Head west on Park Road 4 from US-281 and you will pass Longhorn Cavern before reaching the lake. We used the close proximity of the parks to our advantage and hiked at each in the same day.
Inks Lake State Park is open daily. The office is open from 8am until at least 5pm. As it gets warmer the office tends to stay open later on the weekends. There is an entrance fee of $6 if you do not hold a Texas State Parks Pass. This park is not quite as popular as a few others in Hill Country, but we made a reservation nonetheless. Reserve your spot online before heading to the park to ensure you are not turned away during busy days.
Dog Friendly Hiking Trails at Inks Lake
All of the trails at Inks Lake State Park should be easy for most hikers to manage, even beginners. There are only eight miles worth of hiking trails inside the park. Most of them are on the south side near Park Road 4. Two of these cross the road, and vehicles are not required to stop. There are nine points of interest on the Inks Lake State Park Trail Map, and we visited them in reverse order.
This trail is about a mile long and provides access to the other trails on the south side of the park. Parts of the trail are rocky and wooded as it bends around the water. Point of interest 8, is in the middle between Park Road 4, and the lake. This area is known as Stumpy Hollow, and may be a good fishing spot where trees stick out of the water. Discoloration could easily be seen on the rocks and trees because the water level was so low.
There are two short trails which run along the rocks between the water and parking area. We found the rocky areas that make up the Fisherman Trails fun to hike. Climbing to the highest point provides a nice view of the lake. I definitely could not see Buchanan Lake, but I did notice a castle to the south. These two trails are out-and-back from Lake Trail.
Follow Lake Trail south and you will find this trail after crossing Park Road 4. Be careful crossing because vehicles may be driving quickly down this road. Woodland Trail is a two mile loop trail. Either direction will get you to a connecting trail which heads toward Pecan Flats and point of interest 9. Despite its name, Woodland Trail is very rocky and open. There’s not much shade, but there is another good view of that castle in the distance.
Pecan Flats Trail
Take the short connecting trail (it will be marked) to Pecan Flats, which runs nearly two miles through wide open terrain. Heading left at the fork is the quickest way to reach point of interest 9 – the highest elevation at Inks Lake State Park.
The viewpoint is supposedly 1,000 feet high, and provides a great view of the lake. You can also see Texas Hill Country all the way around the viewpoint. Tall hills are noticeable in the distance, and that castle still appears in the south.
Pecan Flats is an easy hike but contains very little shade. You can follow a short loop, or continue on toward Lake Trail. Grab the interpretive guide from the HQ and locate 28 additional points of interest on this trail. Again, be cautious crossing Park Road 4, which cuts through Pecan Flats Trail. The total distance on the south side of Inks Lake is about seven miles.
The waterhole is a very popular swimming area on the north side of the park. To get there from the hiking trails on the south side you must go through the entire parking area (including many camps). Unfortunately, it’s not possible to exit the park, follow Park Road 4, and park near the Bird Blind. It’s at least a two mile hike from Devil’s Waterhole Nature Trail. You may follow the trails around the water, or cut across to the scenic viewpoint.
Abbey and I opted for the rocky shortcut. We arrived at the top of the rocks just in time for the sunset. The view was great as a few bats fluttered in the shadows near the face of the rock. Due to the low water level, other hikers and their dogs were crossing the water as well. Three points of interest are in this area including Devil’s Waterhole, the overlook and Spring Creek Delta.
Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail
Cutting across the water put us midway along Devil’s Backbone. Due to the position of the sun we were unable to get to the Bird Blind. Instead, we followed the nature trail back around the water toward Valley Spring Creek Trail. Both trails are fairly wooded and easy to hike. Swimming is at-your-own-risk, but no one was in the water during January. The water level appeared to be about six feet low by the lines along the rocks. However, I believe they will be allowing the lake to refill soon before spring arrives.
The Sun Goes Down on Inks Lake State Park
Darkness had fallen by the time we returned to our vehicle. We visited Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Cavern State Park in the same day. It was quite an adventure. The dog friendly hiking trails were very scenic and easy to conquer. We spent the entire day hiking, but there are many other things to do.
As we left, campfires were being setup, and food was being grilled. Many visitors were getting their camps ready for the night. The water level had been low, and unused by most, but there will be a host of people in the water as it warms up. The winter is a good time to go hiking, but the rest of the year will be better for water activities.
There’s so much more to be done at Inks Lake State Park in Hill Country. Hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, camping, scuba diving, and bird watching make for one great adventure – too much for just one day. Which activities will you choose?
I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it.
We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site.
Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly. I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.