Lake Georgetown/Goodwater Trail Tips?
I'm spending a week at Christmas again with the in-laws in Georgetown this year and plan to bring a steel hardtail to leave at their place for good. They live just a couple of miles from the dam at Lake Georgetown so I'm hoping to do the Goodwater Trail at least once on this trip. Any tips on riding this trail, especially as regards not getting lost? Is the trail easier to follow clockwise or counter-clockwise?
And what tires do you recommend - I'm thinking maybe 2.4" Ardents?
Any other "can't miss" trails in the area? I've hiked/run along the Barton Creek Greenbelt and it seemed pretty cool.
Thanks in advance for any advice and I hope to see you guys out on the trail in about 6 weeks!
I think it is easier to follow going counter clockwise, but I don't think one is much better than the other. The south side is much more technical, so it might be better to do it first? I have only hiked the trail, and there are two turns that I miss each time, but I always figure it out quickly.
I'm not sure where the San Gabriel trail starts, but I think it is somewhere just a little downstream of the dam, so if you wanted something easy, that could be cool to check out.
Looking forward to seeing what others have to say, since I would like to ride this trail someday.
I have ridden it both ways and clockwise is much better. I should also mention that you will probably be out there for at least 4 hours. Bring more water and food then you think you need and give yourself plenty of time. And I'm not really sure you can get LOST, just keep the lake on the same side the whole time, the trail is hard to loose if you use common sense. I never had a guide or even a good map and made it around just fine. You may want to hit up Paul at Central Texas Powersports (check their website to make sense of the "powersports" part), he is pretty cool and rides out there a bit, and that shop is something to see.
I don't think tire choice is a big deal, the surface is pretty varied and I don't think anything will be bad anywhere. I think the first time I did it I had SB8s and was fine, and have also been out there with Navs and was also fine. There are some ROCKY sections so the cush of 2.4 might be nice.
If you have never been to the GB then make an effort. It is the definitive Austin trail. Awesome single track right in the city, and Chuy's will be waiting for you when your done.
I may be convinced to show you around but I haven't been on the big bike much lately so I'm a bit out of shape and I tend to just do the same ol' simple loops. But if you find someone else to lead I'd be down to tag along, I need some new people to ride with.
Here is a pretty thorough ride report I did after I visited. It has a link to a GPS map and a lot of info on the individual trails that make up the Lake Goodwater trail system. I did it clockwise...
The trail is awesome.
SBTEC MTB ATX: Goodwater Lake Trail
If you keep a sharp lookout, when you head east from Tejas, there is a left turn that takes you to more singletrack. If you miss it, you ride a lot more gravel road on the way to Walnut.
Your average speed was pretty awesome, at least compared to what I'd expect to do. You are right about the limestome being a potential sidewall killer...
You should be able to find water at...
Tejas (one or two faucets)
Russell (faucet at the camp hosts trailer site just outside the gate and east of the entrance road. maybe other places too.)
Hogg (backside of the entrance gate hut.)
Might be other sources, but everytime I went through I was on foot and in a hurry, so I didn't feel like venturing far. I guess some of the parks have campsites with hookups.
I'll definitely hit these trails next time I have an excuse to head to Austin. I'll try to post back here if I do.
I did the Goodwater and San Gabriel R a couple of weeks ago. Below is a copy of the review. My experience with a 29er hardtail and 2.2" tires was that the rocky sections tended to bounce the front end around which made control difficult in some situations. I ran 30-35 psi but could probably have run them a little softer. Of course, with the Goodwater, you have to balance this versus the risk of pinch flats and rim damage. It doesn't bother me to take my time or to walk the bike through the rougher sections either.
I've ridden or walked sections of or the entire Goodwater Trail about a dozen times. Since sections are extremely rocky, I frequently take the hike-a-bike approach. Otherwise, you can lose control and this is the last place you want to incur a mobility injury. I've done the trail with both rigid cyclocross and 29er hardtail bikes. This trail is far more enjoyable when it's cool; otherwise, you'll be pretty miserable for the last miles, especially if you try to do it rapidly. I usually take about 8 hours to complete around 32 miles.
I've never had a flat, but I'm conservative about walking the bike over areas with sharp limestone. Mesquite thorns are what usually get my tires, but this trail is mostly Ashe juniper. Take tubes and a patch kit as a precaution.
Take plenty of water and a HAT; a hydration pack is recommended. Water can be obtained on the trail at Tejas Camp and at the check stations / restrooms at Cedar Breaks, Russell, Jim Hogg, and Lake Overlook Parks. Trail snacks are essential in my opinion.
I usually start out from San Gabriel Park to the east which adds about 8 easy miles roundtrip. Various shortcuts can remove quite a few miles from the 26-mile lake circuit, but a GPS and some planning are highly recommended. The low-water Box Crossing over the San Gabriel at the W end of the Lake (markers 9/10 or 12/13) cuts off a few miles. During low water, you can cut across the hollows (markers 16 and 18) around Russell Park, but it requires some bushwacking and a GPS.
A nice out-and-back of around five miles is from the Cedar Breaks Park trailhead W to Crockett Gardens / Knight Spring (the most popular feature at Lake Georgetown).
The trailhead at Westlake Pkwy on the S side can be used for access and emergencies. A few trailheads exist on the north side also, but the various manned park entrance gates are your best bet if you should need help.
Comanche Bluff - Lake Granger - mostly single-track (no rocks!) completely different from Goodwater to the W
Pecan Grove WMA - Lake Granger - mostly old double-track
San Gabriel R - Georgetown - paved and hardpack
Cameron Park - Waco
Barton Ck - Austin - rugged single-track in juniper woodland
Slaughter Ck - Austin - single-track in mixed field/woodland
Thanks for all the tips everyone. I figure the ride would take me a good 4-5 hours and am planning to bring along my 100oz Camelbak. I'll probably try it clockwise and if I get a chance hit it again later in the week counter-clockwise.
I've run and ridden San Gabriel many times. It is a great running trail but maybe a little short and non-technical for biking.
BigPapa - Funny you should mention that, I went to Cental Texas Powersports when I was down visiting last year. As a mountain biker and motorcycle rider that place was nirvana to me, my girl thought she'd never get me out of there! They could use a few more pedal-powered bikes but their bike accessories and motorcycle inventory are great.
Although it may be convenient since you'll be staying Georgetown, the Goodwater Trail would be at the bottom of my list of area trails to ride. The rocks eat sidewalls; the abundant thorns, burrs and cacti puncture tires and tubes and there isn't enough flow, in my opinion, to make the trail fun. I am baised though...I had to walk out of the trail this past summer after 3 flats and a broken spoke.
Recommend: Greenbelt, RPR, Walnut Creek (for speed and flow) and City Park.
Really? I would say that the Goodwater loop is on a list of can't miss trails for visiting riders. The trail may need some improvements but the ride is way more then worth it. And I hate to tell ya but you may be cursed, but I have never gotten, seen been with anybody that has gotten, a flat out there. I did have one guy start throwing up about half way around and we had to come back and get him with the truck. But to be fair it was 100+ that day.
I've ridden segments of the goodwater loop (live in gtown) and it is a pretty awesome trail. However, the segments I've done were not flowy but I wasn't expecting it to be. There are sharp rocks that would love to eat sidewalls but I've never had a flat out there. I would definitely recommended doing the loop or even segments (out and back) to anyone.
I will say the cedar breaks segment is by far the roughest/most technical of the segments I've done.
LGT is a beast. That's the beauty of it... Flow is relative, there are plenty of fun spots out there that aren't complete rock gardens. I've ridden all over Central Texas and this is one of my favorite trails. Mainly because I feel like I've accomplished something after completing a full loop. It's what mountain biking is all about... just my .02 cents.
I got to sample LGT while we were in town for a wedding, for about 3 hours on Nov 30. Started at Overlook, rode probably 12 miles out and back on the north side (mileage posts peter out beyond Jim Hogg); lots of respite in between rock gardens. By myself, so was even more cautious than usual, but there was only one spot I just got off and wouldn't session because it was too gnarly. Felt plenty challenged, worried about flats but had no problems. Signage is sketchy; Austinbike has verbal directions (but no maps) that mostly got me where I wanted to go. Couldn't figure out how to get on the around-the-lake loop from Cedar Breaks at all. We visit Austin periodically to see family; now that I've found Lk Georgetown, no more Walnut Creek for me!
If you enter cedar breaks and take the 1st left, the trailhead starts there. There's a little circle for parking.
I did the Hogg to Russell out and back today for the first time, it was pretty fun I thought. My gf on there hand, not so much lol.
from cedar breaks you start at the little circular area where there is a big star in the middle. the host can tell you where the dayparking area for the trail is. it's pretty close to the entrance gate. there is a spot where, 3 years ago anyway, where the trail goes up a 4 foot rock ledge, which I always thought was odd. anyway, lots of people park at that parking lot and go out to the spring, so you ought to be able to pick out the trail pretty easily next time you are out there.
I used to ride this trail a lot till I started racing then stopped liking this trail. I'd always wanted to do the whole loop but always did out and backs. A few weeks ago I started at the dam (Overlook Park) going counterclock wise to Jim Hogg with the intent of a nice easy out and back. I only brought 2 bottles of mix and a cliff bar. I hit Jim Hogg and Russel Park rather quick and wanted to stretch the legs a bit and ride the open double track to Tejas Park. Next thing I knew was it was going to be closer to keep riding the whole loop.
I'd recomend this starting point and direction. I filled up my bottles at Tejas Park and the whole loop took just over 3 hours without trying hard. I rode the open park from Russel to Tejas at around 15 mph just because I so happy to get out of the rocks and wanted to open it up a bit.
I rode it on my carbon HT but wished I had my epic. I used specialized control captian in the front and ground control in the back with no issues.
I've been wanting to do the entire loop, but I've only ever done out and backs.
I haven't done Russell to Tejas, is the entire segment double track? That would be a nice change/relief from all the rocks from overlook to Russell. What about Tejas to sawyer? I've done out and back at cedar breaks and that was rough at times and was wondering if the rockiness continued to band past sawyer.
Russell to Walnut is mostly singletrack.
From Walnut to Tejas, you can either ride gravel the whole way, or take a turn onto some singletrack. I think the singletrack bit is easy to miss, especially if you are on the rivet trying to get to Tejas. It's a little foggy because each time I have been through there I have been hiking for about 6 hours already.
From Tejas to Sawyer is about half flat singletrack through tall grass, and half up and down stairs. At least from what I remember.
Did an out and back from Tejas to sawyer yesterday and it's probably my favorite segment so far. There were only 2 stair sections. A lot less rocks in this segments than in others I've done, which is nice because I like going fast.
cool, thanks for the report.
Thanks again for all the advice, I managed to get in a ride around the lake as well as rides at the Greenbelt and Walnut Creek and a recovery ride on the San Gabriel Greenway. Thoughts for anyone else visiting the area:
Lake Georgetown/Goodwater Trail: Two ~10 mile long rock gardens with 5-6 miles of straight, flat dirt roads in the middle! Signage was awful - none of the turns are marked and for some reason there are signs along straight sections of the trail(?). Cedar Breaks was definitely the toughest section and I walked a lot of it, the rocks are more like a coral reef than the more rounded stuff we have in North Carolina. I'd recommend full suspension bike or a fatbike if you've got one (I rode a hardtail). Tough trail with a lot of character. A lot of the trail is deserted - I only saw one other rider so be careful if you go out there alone - it could be days before someone finds you. (If you know a guy who was out riding a Fisher SS there on 12/24 tell him thank you for me - he helped me get back on track after getting turned around and confused)
Barton Creek - Another trail with a lot of character but way easier than Lake Georgetown. Went on a Saturday (albeit a cold one) and the trail was packed with other riders, hikers, and dog walkers. Everyone was very friendly except a couple of really rude dog-walkers (I've got dogs myself and couldn't believe the attitude of these two women). It's really easy to go the wrong way on a spur trail here and I ended up backtracking a lot. The Hill of Life is tough - it's not actually all that steep but with all the loose rock it's like trying to ride on marbles - much respect to anyone who can climb that thing! The pool at Zilker Park is closed until March for maintenance so I wasn't able to get in my annual swim there.
Walnut Creek - Completely different trail from the other two with comparatively very few rocks. For me this was by far the most fun of all the trails but it's also a lot more like what I am used to. I was happy to see all the dog walkers and riders co-existing so well after my Greenbelt experience. This trail would be great fun with a rigid SS.
Was very impressed by how friendly all the other riders were and how eager they were to help with navigation and advice.
Was lucky and happened to hit the Bicycle Sports shop on their 20% off day for a great deal on a Specialized tire and some Endura Hummvee shorts which I can never find on sale anywhere else!!!
That coral reef stuff looks like death for sidewalls. I know when I hiked it I did not enjoy that kind of rock.
Originally Posted by jnroyal
You are right about turns not being marked. That didn't even occur to me. But, yeah, basically no signage at all. There are a couple of places where I have consistently gone the wrong way. At least you always have the lake as a guide. To find the trail, find the lake, then go uphill. ;)
Has the grass died down out near Tejas? One time when I hiked it, the grass was head high, and I had a constant feeling that a deer or snake was gonna git me.
Was the water turned on at Tejas? That is a good resupply point, but if you counted on water and there wasn't any, that would be no bueno.
Going past the closed down day use area always seemed spooky to me.
How long did it take you to ride all the way around? Oh and which direction did you go?
I was amazed that the rocks didn't tear a hole in my sidewalls and that I didn't even get a single flat. I guess tire technology has come a long way and I just need to learn to trust the good people at Maxxis.
Most of the turns I missed were in locations where you couldn't see the lake, and in the Russell and Hogg parks where they don't bother to mark the turn off of the paved road. I can understand that the Corps has a limited budget for signs but If you can only afford a few signs, put them at the turns/forks please!
There was some waist-high grass in the Tejas area but it was too cold for snakes so I wasn't worried about them and the grass was short enough to be able to see any deer.
I'm not sure about whether the water at Tejas, the day was cool enough that my 100 oz. Camelbak was all I needed for the whole trip (as a matter of fact I was amazed at how cold it was the entire 10 days we were in the area). I did see a lot of people through the trees so I'm guessing there were some restrooms open somewhere over there.
It took me about 4.5 hours to ride all the way around, with probably about a half-hour of that spent back-tracking wrong turns and pulling up maps on my phone to find the trailheads. I think if I rode it again I could do it in the high 3:45-4:00 range but major props to the guy who did it in close to 3 hours flat - there's no way I could pull that off.
I went clockwise, starting at the dam.
Great information. Thanks very much. Your time looks pretty solid to me. I'll be happy to get it done in 5, what with all the rocky stretches, and my general lack of awesome.
Nice report jnroyal. I definitely agree with you regarding lake Georgetown. Since I live in gtown and have done each segment out and back at least once, I'm familiar with the trail. If its your first time there I can certainly see how one could get turned around at times (although I feel like the trail is fairly defined in most areas, with the exception of coming out on park roads and trying to find where the trail picks back up).
I have yet to make the entire loop but plan to in the spring when the time changes. Your time sounds good especially after looking at strava. I would like to make the loop around that time for my first go at it. What was your average speed?