UPDATE: We finally did the entire Goodwater Loop and I now have an itinerary and video of the entire loop if you are wishing to do the entire Goodwater Loop as well.
We ended up only backpacking 4.5 miles in and camping at Cedar Hollow Camp so we could enjoy lounging by the lake for a while and just taking a much-needed break from everyday life.
We were able to fill up with potable water the entire length of the trail which means we did not need to filter lake water. We each carried 4L of water and it worked out great between fill-ups. This was done during Springtime and if you plan on doing it during summer you may need to filter lake water once (between Mile 1 and Tejas Park) otherwise 4L each got us through the first night and to Tejas park the next day.
Both my husband and my teenage son (I call him “The Boy”) accompanied me on this trip.
DAY 1: Cedar Breaks Trailhead to Cedar Hollow Campground
We began at Cedar Breaks Trailhead and headed west towards Cedar Hollow Camp, which is about 4.5 miles from the trailhead.
The trail was a lot different than I expected. It borders a cliff for pretty much this entire section and was very rocky in most of the locations, which created a really good workout. Either very strong ankles or boots with ankle support are suggested!
The scenery changes constantly from being in the woods, to completely open fields, to a little bit of in between. It is highly suggested to bring sunscreen!
If you go in late Spring, it is beautiful as the cactuses will be in bloom as well as wildflowers!
Cedar Hollow Campsite
Note: that this is from our first experience at this camp (a year before we did the entire loop). We actually got to the campsite around 2 pm this go around and were the only ones there until later into the night and we had no issues with anyone being loud.
We arrived at Cedar Hollow Camp around 4:30 p.m. and were pooped. This is a primitive campground, however, it does have open-air toilets! What I mean by that is that there are two toilets that are literally out in the open in the middle of the camping area (my husband did get a picture, and I will upload it asap).
The campsites are first come, first serve and most have a fire pit, picnic table, and lantern holder. By the time we got there, all the better spots were taken.
The ground here, at most of the sites, is at a slant (as you can tell from the picture below). Great for hammocks (and we were the only tents there) but horrible for tents.
We ended up finding a secluded spot and put our tents up on the most level ground we could find. Funny how “level” as seen to the eye is not the same as laying down trying to sleep! We didn’t sleep well at all. To make matters worse, the rest of the campers all decided to have a big ole’ party until about 3 am and their freaking dogs barked ALL NIGHT LONG!!!!
When I looked on the map, I realized this camp was just a short ways away from a trailhead, which explains why this site was so popular.
The one major bonus though is that is has easy access to the lake for swimming or fishing or just lounging around. The beach though is VERY rocky, I would suggest having water shoes!
So if you plan on staying here, get here early and avoid weekends. Be prepared that this is more of a party spot. The area isn’t that great for tenting, but great for hammocks. Also remember that even though the map says there are bathrooms, that it is just 2 open toilets that sit next to each other.
Day 2: Cedar Hallow Campground to Willow Creek Campground
We got a later start than originally planned. Due to leaving our rain fly’s off our tents, dew settled on everything in our tent and made everything pretty wet. So, we waited around for the sun to dry things out before packing our gear away.
There is a nice climb out of the campground and then again on the main trail as you head towards Tejas Park.
We stopped at Sawyer Campground to have a snack and check out the campground. None of the sites have a picnic table or fire ring. It appears that there is a communal fire ring and picnic table in the middle of the sites. The privy (bathrooms) are also without walls and the ground is not very level. There is access to the lake though and this campground would be great for large groups.
There is another nice climb out of Sawyer Campground and again on the main trail.
Pretty soon the trail opens up to Prairie and near mile 8 you will cross over a small cold stream (great for filling up on water or dipping a rag in to get your head wet).
After mile 8 you encounter a steady incline that will lead you back into a wooded area. Shortly before mile 9 you will encounter a steep incline and then after a short little hike on a pretty steep cliff the trail drops back down into open prairie where it will remain until you get right outside of Tejas Park.
The trail will split around mile 10.5 and you will need to stay right (there is no sign) and then turn an immediate left. If you stay straight it will still lead you into Tejas Park, but appears to dump you into the back of the campground.
You will come to the trailhead entrance which is on the left. Take that and head straight back towards where you see a picnic table (this is the camp host picnic table but there was no camp host when we were there so we used it to eat). The water faucet to fill up your water and trash cans are located near the picnic table.
Once you leave out the same way you came in you will take a left and follow the trail to the road, where you will take a right, go over the bridge and the trail will start again after the bridge on the right.
You will cross over a stream and then the trail becomes what looks like an old fire road. You will stay on this fire road and in open prairie until you reach Walnut Creek campground.
The trail does split before mile 12 and you can choose to either stay straight or go to the right. They both meet back up. We stayed straight.
Shortly after mile 14 the trail runs through the lake and is about calf deep, but is clear so you can easily see where you are walking. You can alternately choose to skip the water by taking the alternate trail right around mile 14, which is a detour around the water. We like adventure, so we chose the water route!
Shortly after the water crossing (about 1/4 mile), you will come to Walnut Creek campground on your right.
Walnut Creek Campsite
Walnut Creek Campground is a primitive campground with no privy. There are 6 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings, and plenty more space to set up extra tents. There is also access to the lake and the ground here is more level than at the other two campgrounds.
Day 3: Walnut Creek Campground to Cedar Breaks Trailhead
We decided to get an early start in hopes of getting to the end by 4pm. After calculating the distance we had left we realized that today was going to be our longest day.
Although we got up a 6am, we didn’t leave the campground until 8am, which was about 30 minutes later than we wanted to leave, but still earlier than we usually do!
The trail goes through prairie as it did the day before for about half a mile after the campground and then it goes back into the trees after a little climb and remains in this type of terrain until you get closer to Overlook Park.
Our first stop for the day was 2 miles down the trail at Russell Park so we could fill up on water.
Once you get to Russell Park you can either continue on or take a short detour to potable water and a restroom. To get to both you will need to turn left at the parking lot the trail dumps you in at and go straight. At the stop sign take a right and go past the gate attendant. The trail to continue on will be located on your left OR to fill up on water stay straight on the road and restrooms and water fountain will be right after the boat ramps. There are also trashcans as well if you need to dump some trash.
Our next stop was Jim Hogg Park for lunch. You can also fill up on potable water here as well, however, the detour is much further than at Russell Park.
Once you hit mile 20 (shortly before Jim Hogg Park) the trail becomes a tad confusing and is not marked very well at all, so make sure you are paying attention. You will then come to a trail where you can go left to a road or right to continue on. You want to go right and continue on the trail (there is no sign telling you which way to go here). This will dump you out into Jim Hogg Park at an information sign. We decided to use the shade of the sign to sit down and eat lunch (there is also a trashcan for trash).
To continue on the trail, you will take a left at the sign and the trail continues on near the RV dump station. While there is a water faucet at the RV dump station, you DO NOT want to use it. If you want potable water take a right on that road and continue on to near the boat ramp where there is a bathroom.
Our last stop was at Overlook Park to fill up on water and take a break before starting our road walk across the dam.
The trail will dump out into a parking lot, turn right towards the white building. On the backside are 2 benches to rest, or continue on the concrete path to the restrooms. Once at the restrooms turn left and continue to follow the concrete path to the road for the dam.
The road is closed to vehicular traffic which makes the road walk a lot more pleasant.
Once you leave the dam, you will climb a hill, follow the road past the gate attendant and the Cedar Breaks Trailhead parking lot where you parked your car will be on your left!
Goodwater Loop Trail Tips
Bring plenty of water – Depending on the section you will be hiking and time of year, water sources could be 10 miles apart.
Wear good boots – The trail is rocky, good ankle support is needed unless you have really strong ankles.
Bring your camera – The trail offers some beautiful views and beautiful scenery.
Bring a map & compass – The trail is not marked well at all and it is easy to veer off the trail onto what will look like other trails.
Maps & Info
WEBSITE: COE Lake Georgetown Website
Have you hiked the Goodwater Loop Trail? What tips do you have?