Goodwater Loop

Texas is big but we are lacking in long hiking trails. This is largely due to the state being more privately owned than most other states. Though huge, it was born from massive ranches and oil fields and little of it is protected land. While there are a couple of large parks like Palo Duro Canyon and Big Bend National Park, most state parks are smaller and only a few hundred acres or less.

Having dozens of small parks makes the small amount of protected space more reachable by people but it doesn't provide many trails long enough to be done over multiple days. That is especially true for the central Texas area, near Austin.

I have several backpacking goals this year and getting ready for them without any backpacking options nearby is challenging. One of those goals is to do the Lone Star Hiking Trail (or on Alltrails) from start to finish. That trail is roughly 98 miles and is usually done in 7 to 10 days. The trail passes through a few different parks but also crosses private land and sections even go along highways to string together a modest through hike.

While the LSHT is on my to-do list this year, I feel like I need a few warmup hikes, and one of the few within hundreds of miles is a trail that circles Lake Georgetown called the Goodwater Loop.  While I've done a ton of hiking, one thing I haven't done is 15+ mile days on flat land at low elevation. I've done a few 10+ mile hikes and even a few 10+ mile days in the mountains at elevation. The 10-mile hikes locally were fairly trivial. The 10 mile days in the mountains were barely survivable but they were also done when I wasn't in the shape I needed to be in.

The Goodwater Loop is my chance to see what a 100 mile through hike might feel like. Is 15 miles a day a good target? 20? 25? This is a whole new type of hike for me and I just have no idea what to expect.

This is also my chance to try out my cold-weather gear and my shoes. Sadly, my sleeping bag is bound for the closet since it is synthetic, doesn't pack down well, and is stupidly overrated for warmth. I have a new quilt ordered but it won't be here for a few weeks.

Wish me luck on my hike!