Growing up in Austin, I had a family friend who owned their own personal kayak fleet (a mixture of 5 single and tandem kayaks) and a custom truck rack to carry them all safely. It was enough to take a team of friends out and the freedom to go out wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We managed to paddle plenty. We visited rivers and rapids in the surrounding area for weekend camping trips and lake Travis for day trips.
Something that became a regular outing for us were short jaunts to Lady Bird Lake. If you are lucky enough to live in the Austin area, it’s conveniently located and free to paddle. More specifically though, our group really enjoyed night kayaking the lake. We would park near Austin High School and put in at the drainage ditch ramp. Since it would be dark we were always sure to mount a 360 degree light to the kayak above our heads and we would also bring a few Princeton Tec Headlamps and plenty of glow sticks.
What made it so great was the fact that we would have the whole lake to ourselves when we went, and we weren’t going at outrageous hours either (usually between 8-10pm in the evening). To paddle Lady Bird Lake without a hundred other people on the lake is rare during the day, but common at night. The usual hustle and bustle of the lake is replaced with a calmness that makes for some of the most relaxing paddling you can get, right in the heart of downtown Austin.
We Austin paddlers are lucky to have a resource like Lady Bird Lake but certainly invite you, “out of towners” to make your way down here. It’s free and an easily accessible way to get your paddling “fix”, plus its fun for both beginners and experienced kayakers alike. Recently, I’ve even been hearing about how it’s a popular place to fish. Whether it be at night or during the day, I definitely recommend that all Austin paddlers take advantage of such a great kayaking venue.