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As the sun dips below the horizon, a great blue heron surveys the waters at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Crickets begin their twilight melody as the heron stands quietly at the Texas lake's edge. Suddenly, the large bird lurches forward, unfurling its wings and skimming across the clear water to find a final resting place for the night.
Sights such as these are plentiful at Stillhouse Hollow Lake, a wide and deep artificial reservoir located near Belton, Texas. The 6,430-acre lake resides in the eastern portion of the great state, within the Prairies and Lakes tourism region. Its 58 miles of shoreline rests entirely in Bell County.
Stillhouse Hollow Lake was originally created to fill recreation needs, along with developing fish and wildlife habitat, flood damage reduction and water conservation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the lake, began construction in June of 1962, completing the project six years later at the cost of $24.5 million. The lake was first known as Lampasas Lake, named after the Lampasas River which drains into the body of water.
Jumping to present day, Stillhouse Hollow Lake and its immediate surroundings are now a hotbed full of wildlife, retirees and recreation seekers. With an average depth dropping down to 36 feet and a maximum depth of 107 feet, the lake's clear waters holds an assortment of fish for anglers. Largemouth bass reveal themselves more in the spring and fall, while white bass come out in early spring. Smallmouth bass and channel catfish can be fished for year round; crappie and flathead catfish stick to certain areas in the lake, like submerged brushpiles or in the upper portion of the lake.
Summer residents and vacationers have a choice between accessing Stillhouse Hollow Lake by boat or by beach. Multiple boating ramps are located throughout the lake and a marina can be found at the lake's eastern most shore to stock up on boating supplies.
Two of the four parks at the Stillhouse Hollow Lake have swimming beaches available for recreational fun. Spread out a towel and soak up the sun's bountiful rays or have a sandcastle-making contest near the shore. The clear waters provide a great opportunity for beginner snorkelers as well.
With so much surface area, water enthusiasts have ample space to water ski, wakeboard, kayak or sail across Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Grab the kids and perfect your wakeboarding skills, slice across the water on water skis, or make a game of trying to flip a friend off a colorful inner tube. Vacation rentals and real estate are available and make for a quick trip to and from the water.
Those looking to explore the nearby woods for wildlife watching will find plenty of opportunities throughout the area at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Slap on sturdy hiking books and trek across Chalk Ridge Falls, a five mile trail that winds through tall trees and across an old suspension bridge, eventually revealing a picturesque waterfall. Dana Peak Trail is perfect for any equestrian searching for solitude in the north section of the park. Both of these trails are open year round and, with stealth and good fortune, the woods will provide unique glances at doves, waterfowl, rabbits and quail.
Hunters have access to the numerous wildlife management areas at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Camping is available for both hunters and those seeking silence under the stars. Pitch a tent, roll out a warm sleeping bag and listen to night owls hooting softly under the moon's bright gaze.
Stillhouse Hollow Lake is practically within shouting distance to the city of Belton, a mere five miles away. The city is chock full of daytime and nighttime activities, from a theater and trail rides to bike trails, paintball courses, true Texas rodeos and lively county fairs. Pick any time of year to sample the city's sushi or steakhouse restaurants, or delve into Belton's deep history while visiting their classic museum.
Less than 15 miles away from Stillhouse Hollow Lake rests its sister lake, known as Belton Lake. Belton Lake offers 136 miles of shoreline, complete with beaches for sunbathing, picnic sites for grilling out, and boating for anyone wishing to feel the lake wind whipping against their face.
Discover your own sense of wonderment at Stillhouse Hollow Lake through its magnificent hiking trails for the outdoor enthusiast, clear waters for the angler or snorkeler and abundant wildlife for the bird watcher. Visiting Stillhouse Hollow Lake allows you to be only minutes away from its thriving city or its peaceful lake waters.
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