Canyon Lake: A User’s Guide
It’s almost April, when many Canyon Lake parks reopen for the summer season. Enjoy the great outdoors with the help of this handy list of area parks, trails and amenities manged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
There are seven major parks on the shores of Canyon Lake as well as a JBSA Recreation Park for active duty military personnel and DOD cardholders.
Most are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers while several others are managed by Comal County.
Although some are open year-round, many are closed through the winter and reopen in April.
Amenities include campgrounds, beaches, picnic areas, boat ramps and opportunities for shoreline fishing.
Quintessential Canyon Lake
Overlook Park, 601 Coe Rd., a day-use park, features spectacular view of the dam and Canyon Lake. It’s widely considered one of the best places in the area for lake views, fishing, seeing wildlife, hiking/walking and swimming. The park is situated on a hilltop at the south end of Canyon Dam and also serves as the location of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters. The park definitely lives up to its name.
Visitors can easily access the Verada Real walking trail across Canyon Dam. A restroom at the top of the hill and visitor parking is available. There are no camping or picnic facilities but you are welcome to hike and picnic.
Ceremony spot has six benches.
Bird species at the park include osprey, raptors, waterfowl, sparrows, wrens and migrating warblers.
The office for visitor information is open Monday through Friday 8am to 4:30pm, excluding Federal Holidays. Free.
There’s an entrance and/or boat ramp fee at most parks. Information about camping fees and facilities can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park page and on Texas Parks and Wildlife site.
Click here to find specific information about Rebecca Creek, Potters Creek West, Potters Creek, County Ramp 23, Cranes Mill, Cranes Mill Marina, Tom Creek 2, Tom Creek 1, Comal Park 1, Comal Park 2, Canyon Park, Jacob’s Creek 1, Jacob’s Creek North, Turkey Cove, Skyline/Canyon Dam.
The 250-acre JBSA Recreation Park at Canyon Lake is open to all DOD card carriers and active-duty military personnel. For more information, click here.
Class A Parks
Potter’s Creek Park
Located on the northwest side of Canyon Lake, this 303-acre fee-based camping park includes 132 modern RV sites, seven screened shelters, 10 designated tent camping sites and five family sites.
Amenities include one large pavilion, five shower houses with restrooms, a large beach, and boat ramps.
A fishing dock is located at the outside boat ramp.
Parts of the park are open all year, with closures based on utilization.
Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily April through September, this 485-acre fee-based park offers tent-camping opportunities as well as a beach where day use is allowed.
The park offers a primitive campground with 155 campsites, two overnight shelters, one day-use shelter, a boat ramp and courtesy dock, vault toilets, water fountains and over eight miles of hiking and biking trails.
The park does not include shower facilities. A number of additional campsites have been abandoned or closed.
Canyon Beach Park
Located on the east side of Canyon Park near the park entrance is Canyon Park Beach. This day-use-only park is open from April through September. Facilities include picnic tables, closable grills, a swim beach, vault toilets, and a water fountain. A fee is assessed for use of this facility.
Joint Base San Antonio Canyon Lake Recreation Area (includes Jacobs Creek Park)
This 258-acre park is located on the north side of the reservoir. The terrain varies from flat to steep, with sparse tree cover on the southern portion. Oak and junipers are dense on the northern portion.
The area is now three separately permitted areas, all operated by JBSA. Part of this area is operated under a permit agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and JBSA. This joint-based facility includes specific areas managed by Fort Sam Houston and Randolph Air Force Base for the exclusive benefit of the military and U.S. Department of Defense employees.
JBSA also operates Jacobs Creek Park as a day-use area open to general public use.
The two areas managed for military members and defense department employees are open year-round and feature 216 total campsites. Forty-one of these sites have electrical and water hookups and 175 are without electricity and water. There also are 30 group campsites, two group picnic shelters and several cabins.
Two marinas offer 130 dry storage slides, 123 wet slips, fishing piers and boat rentals.
JBSA also features four boat ramps, a nature trail and swim beaches.
Located on the south short of Canyon Lake near Startzville, this 116-acre park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset April through September.
The park features two boat ramps, 55 picnic sites, a large swim beach, children’s playground, and a restroom at the beach. A fee is assessed for use of this facility.
This 18-acre day-use-only park is free-of-charge and open daily from sunrise to sunset year-round.
Located below Canyon Dam along the first mile of the Guadalupe River, the park features an ADA-accessible parking lot and trailway with a fishing pier near the dam and adjacent to the GBRA hydroelectric plan tailrace.
A foot trail is available alone the right bank of the river. The river can be accessed from the trails for fishing.
The Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam is the southern-most sustainable trout fishery in the nation. It’s a popular place for trout fishing.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) monitors the trout population and releases rainbow trout in the river annually.
The park does not have camping or picnic facilities. Potable restrooms are only available occasionally. The nearest restroom facility is located at the nearby Overlook Park.
Comal County has leased a 68-acre portion that was formerly Guadalupe Park from USACE for operation of its Comal County Hidden Valley Sports Complex.
This 51-acre tent-camping-only facility is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from April through September. It’s a popular area for scuba diving.
Located on the north side of Canyon Lake Dam on North Park Road, it includes 19 campsites and vault toilets.
Each campsite includes a picnic table and a fire rings.
Potable water is available but there are no RV hookups, showers or boat ramps at this park.
A fee is assessed for use of this facility.
On the Water
Lake Canyon Yacht Club
This four-acre lease of water surface is adjacent to JBSA Sunny Side. Originally leased in 1968, it features 18 acres of land on a bluff overlooking the lake.
This is a private recreation lease open to members only.
Canyon Lake Marina
Leased to and operated by Suntex Marina, Canyon Lake Marina is located on the west side of Canyon Park and provides 450 wet slips, 53 dry storage units, ship stores, fuel docks, a comprehensive service center, boat rentals and a restaurant.
This lease consists of 18 acres of land and 13 acres of water.
Cranes Mill Marina
Also leased and operated by Suntex Marina, Cranes Mill Marina is located near Cranes Mill Park and features 250 wet slips, dry storage units, ship stores, fuel docks, a comprehensive service center and boat rentals.
This lease consists of nine acres of land and five acres of water.
Comal County Hidden Valley Sports Complex CRRC
Comal County has an outgrant lease for 68 acres for the area once part of Guadalupe Park. To locals, it’s now the CRRC.
This sports complex has approximately 75 acres that include a recreation center, nine soccer fields, six baseball fields, two football fields, an outdoor basketball court and softball complex, and a community pavilion.
Canyon Lake boasts three different trails for hiking, biking and equestrians.
Hancock Horse Trail
This multi-purpose trail, operated by USACE, is 3.5-miles long one way, and runs along the north shoreline of Canyon Lake.
It can be used by horseback riders, hikers and cyclists.
Trailhead is located at the end of Old Hancock Road just off FM 306 and terminates near a group pavilion at Canyon Park.
The trail runs from open plains near the shore to wooded coves along the north shore. Several park-style benches are placed near the water’s edge.
Note: Proof of a ‘Negative Coggins Test’ is required for equestrian use of this trail.
This hiking and cycling trail, operated by USACE, is over eight-miles-long, roundtrip, with connecting loops.
Trailhead parking is located on Canyon Park Road approximately one mile off FM 306.
The first two miles of the trail feature madrone trees for which the trail is named. Its breathtaking vistas can be enjoyed by all levels of hikers.
The majority of the trail’s rocky terrain runs beneath a tree canopy and varies from flat to steep on a few climbs.
During the spring, wildflowers bloom profusely. Wildlife is abundant.
The trail is rated as intermediate to advanced for mountain bikes. Drops, ledges, tight turns, narrow paths and other natural obstacles make the trail technically challenging to most riders.
Guadalupe River Trail
This trail is 0.9 miles long. The trailhead is located at the base of Canyon Dam at the far end of the southern-most parking area.
It features a scenic walk along the bald cypress-lined banks of the Guadalupe River. Many of the trees along this trail are thought to be over 100-years-old.