Cloaked by the loblloy pine and oak trees of The Davy Crockett National Forest sits Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, a campground that hosts locals and national visitors every year. Built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, this beautiful lake area is open year-round and is an ideal location for camping, leisurely hikes, swimming, and other outdoor activities.
Driving from the heart of Austin, Highway US-79 East leads visitors to the recreation area’s nearest city Ratcliff, TX. From there, campers and day trippers drive down State Rt. 1 about a mile to get to the campgrounds.
Pitch a tent and roll out the sleeping bags for a weekend retreat in the woods. A highlight for locals and outdoor enthusiasts, camping at Ratcliff Lake is a highlight. Presenting with over 70 campsites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis, the rec area features electric hookups, showers, trash bins, toilets, and accommodations for vehicles up to 50 feet long (Note: there are no RV sites). Reservable campsites are available.
Ratcliff Lake provides plenty of opportunity for boat fishing and is home to schools of Blue catfish, Bream, Channel catfish and Largemouth bass. With wheelchair accessible fishing piers, one primitive pier, and boat ramps, there is no shortage of fun to be had underneath the clear blue Texas skies on the lake.
For those that enjoy rambling in the forest, there are three hiking trails that are accessible from the rec area. Four C trail is twenty miles long, Tall Pines is one and half miles long, while Trail Tamers is only quarters of a mile long for those that like short and sweet hikes. Trail Tamers is also wheelchair accessible.
Yogi Bear would have loved this picturesque lake not only for its stunning natural setting and huge trees big enough for a bear’s back scratch, but for all of the picnicking that occurs year-round. Texans love eating in the outdoors and herald Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area as one of the best sites for picnicking. With two reservable sheltered picnic areas, a reservable amphitheater for up to thirty people, and over fifteen single-family picnic areas this rec area is a top spot for outdoors-loving foodies.
Know Before You Go
Since the Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is open year-round, there are no specific peak seasons for visitation and camping. Visited by campers of all ages, single families, and groups of up to 30 people, the rec area is a premier destination for the wild at heart.
The daily rate for entry is $3 for adults and children. Dogs are allowed in the recreation area. Campsite fees vary by specific experience, vehicle type, and reservable availability.