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Belton Lake Review and Rating

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Belton Lake
Belton, TX
Website
Texas Outside Rating: 6.8

Acres Of Water & Miles Of Shoreline
12,300 acres and 136 miles of shoreline

Links

Brief Overview:

 Belton Lake (actually, a reservoir) is a deep lake (124' maximum depth) with a typically greenish cast to the fairly clear water. Belton Lake has a shoreline that is mostly undeveloped but does have a scattering of beautiful homes on bluffs overlooking the lake, some Corp of Engineer Parks, and a Fort Hood Recreation Area.  Limestone bluffs, trees, and rolling hills make this a very scenic lake.  The shoreline has some sandy areas but is mostly rocky.

Belton Lake is an impoundment of the Leon River and the Cowhouse Creek, and is about 10 minutes from Temple. The main lake area is dominated by steep, rough limestone shoreline on the south shore mixed with more gently sloping shorelines on the north side.

During the floods of 2007, Belton Lake suffered a lot of damage and was closed for a number of months. A majority of the parks are still closed  and the Corp of Engineers can't seem to find the funding for cleanup and repairs.

Since it is a Corps lake, the majority of the shoreline is open to visitors. There are many coves on the lake that offer you a more private swimming experience. Of course those are only accessible by boat, but you can pull up just about anywhere and take a dip or cast a line and try to land some fish. 

The south end of the lake is more open and wider but from there the lake twists and turns where the river cut it's way through the limestone.  There are a number of small and some large arms that are scenic and offer smooth water for skiing, boarding, or tubing.  

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A Typical Texas Outsider Day

We come to Belton Lake to enjoy some time on or by the water and camping in one of the Corp of Engineers Parks.  We have stayed at Cedar Ridge Park and really enjoyed it - read our review of Cedar Ridge Park.   

Lake Belton also offers a waterfall to climb up and enjoy on a hot summer day and the gorgeous limestone cliffs are a sight to behold with lots of opportunities to view wildlife.

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Other Cool Things To Do:

On the Cowhouse Creek arm of Belton Lake, the U.S. Army out of Fort Hood operates the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area (BLORA). It is open to the general public and offers pavilions, picnic sites, a lakefront swimming area, a waterslide, boat rentals (safety course required), and more. See this page for more details.

Pier 36 Marina at Cedar Ridge Park has some funky and interesting houseboats that are worth checking out.

A couple of times a year - New Year's and 4th of July, there are also parades of lights - boaters deck their boats out in lights and "parade" around the lake. DFG offers a nice vantage point to take in this sight.

Hiking is offered at Miller Springs - right off the lake. Blora also offers horseback riding and paintball. Belton also has a water park. SummerFun Water Park - www.summerfunwaterpark.com. Downtown Belton is home to several antique shops and the Bell County Museum. Belton hosts its annual 4th of July parade and rodeo. Bell County Expo Center holds a variety of events like concerts (Miranda Lambert, ZZ Top, Flyleaf, etc.). Oh, and the dam offers a perfect view of the sunset! Some of the comments and ideas for things to do were submitted by one of Texas Outside's visitors - thanks for your help.

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What To Do If No Boat:

If you don't have a boat and like to fish, then call Bob at Holding the Line Guide Services and let him take you out after white bass, hybrids, largemouth or smallmouth. Bob knows the lake and is the holder of 6 State Fishing records; he even offers fly fishing trips for long-rod enthusiasts. Bob is offering Texas Outside visitors a $20 savings for a short period of time, so book a trip now! Click here to print his coupon.

BLORA has boat rentals if you want to get out and explore the lake.

If you don't have a boat, one of the most popular hang-outs is Temple Lake Park - 2305 runs right into it. They have picnic tables with bbq pits, a couple of swimming areas, bathrooms, and pavilions. There are also several other good parks to go to.

 

We understand that there are also a few houseboats for rent at Pier 36 and probably at Frank's Marina (where you can also gas up).

Nearby Activities:

Can't really help you much with fun things to see nearby.  Belton and Temple are close and have restaurants and some shops and Temple has fun reasonably priced golf course.

Temple has a couple golf courses - see this Temple Golf Course Map.

Restaurants, Bars, & Music:

If it's restaurants you're after, you can head into the town of Belton and dine, very casually, at Schoepf's Old Time Pit Barbeque. You'll smell the smoke blocks away, the meats always tender, and they make their own old-time thin sauce with lots of black pepper - mmm good. Visit there website.

 If you prefer to dine on the lake, a long-time Belton Lake establishment, Frank's Lakeview Inn & Anchor Club (2207 Lake Road Phone 254-939-5771) is the place to go. Frank's Lakeview Inn and Anchor Club has been completely renovated. It is now known as Dead Fish Grill. It has a beautiful view of the lake, and they shoot off a canon at sunset every night. They also offer live music almost every night and a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer months. Call ahead for lakeview seating.

Wake Boarding & Skiing:

Due to the high bluffs and limited boat traffic, there is always somewhere with calm water for skiing and boarding even when the wind is howling. The Leon River arm is fairly narrow, so be considerate of those who are anchored or fishing as you speed by.

Fishing:

You should call Bob at Holding the Line Guide Services and let him take you out after white bass, hybrids, largemouth or smallmouth.

According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, Belton Lake is a popular lake for hybrid striped bass, and can also be a good largemouth bass lake at certain times of the year. Most of the shoreline is very steep, rocky habitat. Majestic tall bluffs and long rocky points are most common, although sand and mud flats can be found up the Leon River and Cowhouse arms. The lake has little or no aquatic vegetation. Timber is also limited.

Largemouth bass fishing is at its best from late February through April. As the water temperature begins to rise, bass become more active and prepare for the upcoming spawn. The backs of creeks and coves, protected from the north wind, provide the warmest water on the lake. Good creeks to target are Cedar, Bear, Owl, Stampede, and Cowhouse. Spinnerbaits, plastic lizards, jerkbaits, and jig and pork combinations are the preferred baits. From May through September look for bass on main-lake points and flats next to creek channels. Stickbaits, chuggers, buzzbaits, crankbaits, and plastic worms can all be productive under the right conditions. From October through December, bass can be caught from the same areas as during the spawn. Smallmouth bass are generally caught from the dam to the Cedar Creek area at mid-lake. Early spring and late fall, when the water temperature ranges from 55 to 65 degrees, is the prime time to target smallmouth. Spawning occurs in rocky coves protected from the north wind. In summer and fall, long, gently sloping rocky points are good areas to fish. Deep diving crawfish-colored crankbaits, stickbaits, chuggers, buzzbaits, grubs, and small jigs are usually most productive.

Hybrid striped bass were introduced to Belton Lake in 1977, and have since become a very popular sportfish in the reservoir. Hybrids tend to travel in schools throughout the main lake. They can be caught bottom fishing with live bait as well as trolling jigs and crankbaits, with or without the aid of downriggers. White bass fishing is best from March through May when they migrate up the lake into the Leon River to spawn. Bank or boat fishing from the Highway 36 bridge north to Mother Neff State Park using small jigs or spinners can be very productive. During summer and fall, white bass sometimes school on the surface. Try fishing for white crappie between late February and the middle of May, when crappie move into shallow water in the backs of creeks and protected main-lake coves. Spawning crappie are fairly easy to catch on live minnows or small jigs fished around stumps and submerged cover in 2 to 5 feet of water. In summer, fall, and winter, crappie can be caught around large isolated trees and submerged brush at 5 to 20 feet. Catfish are best in the spring and summer. Channel cats spawn from May to June, during which time they move into water 2 to 5 feet deep in the backs of creeks or along flats just off the river channel. Shad, shrimp, blood bait, and stinkbait all work just fine.

Species Poor Fair Good Excellent
Largemouth Bass
Catfish
Crappie
White Bass
Hybrid Striped Bass
Sunfish
Smallmouth bass

*Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Camping, Waterfront Lodging, and Day Use Parks

Live Oak Ridge Park offers both R.V. and tent camping with water and electricity available at all sites. Gate attendants reside within the park to serve the visitors. This park is well shaded with large oak trees, and campers have access to restroom facilities with showers, a 1-lane boatramp and dumpstation. This park has 48 single campsites and all sites will accommodate tents, RVs, or trailers.

Cedar Ridge Park offers both RV, screened shelter, and tent camping with water and electricity at all 68 sites. Gate attendants reside within the park to serve the visitors. Cedar Ridge Park camping area has restroom facilities with showers, a 2-lane boat ramp, a fishing dock, a swim beach, a playground and basketball court, and a dump station.  Read our review of Cedar Ridge Park to learn more about this great park. 

Westcliff Park has 38 campsites, 27 have water and electricity for tent or R.V. camping and the remaining 11 are primitive, tent only sites. This park is staffed with full-time gate attendants. Campers have access to restrooms with showers, a 2-lane boat ramp, swim beach, and playground.

Winkler Park has 15 sites with water, but no electricity. There is a camp host that stays in the park year round to serve the campers, and there are restrooms with showers.

White Flint Park has had many improvements in the last few years which include screened shelters, full RV hookups, and fully enclosed restrooms and showers. In the past it was a free park but are now charging an entry fee.

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Ramps & Marinas

There are a number of two lane boat ramps on the lake, see TP&W's website for a list.

Frank's Marina is located at Belton Park off FM 439. This Marina has boat slip rentals, snack bar, gas, and covered fishing dock. For more information, contact the Frank's Marina at 254/939-7443. Lake Belton Marina At Cedar Ridge is located at Cedar Ridge Park off of state highway 36 and it has boat slips for rent, snack bar, & gas. For more information, contact the marina at 254 986-2466.

Texas Outside Rating of Belton Lake
Beauty: 
Water Clarity: 
Water Conditions: 
Skiing & Board Conditions: 
Beaches: 
Cruising & Touring: 
Restaurants & Bars: 
Safety Level: 
Lake Lodging & Camping: 
Fishing: 

More Pictures

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Texas Outside Lakes Rating Scale

Texas Outside rates lakes on a 1 to 10 scale based on:

  • Beauty: high scores are given for lots of trees, hills, or pretty houses
  • Water Clarity: if you’re standing in two feet of water and can’t see your toes or the water has a deep brown color, we’re talking a 1
  • Water Conditions:  rough water with waves over a foot (good for PWCs or surfing) due to consistent wind or boat wakes don’t rate high on our scale
  • Skiing & Board Conditions:  on the weekends if you can typically find a good cove or part of the lake with glass, we’re talking a 10
  • Beaches:  don’t you hate those beaches when you step into the water you sink in mud up to your knees and loose your flip-flops or it’s all slime and weeds or small rocks – if so, that’s a 1
  • Fun Scale: lakes scoring a 10 have fun restaurants and bars, great coves for raft ups or swimming, and fun rental toys
  • Cruising & Touring:  if you can cruise the lake and look at beautiful houses, nice marinas, pretty coves, or anything similar it will score high
  • Restaurants & Bars:  nothing better than cruising over and having some good food and listening to some great music on the deck of a fun restaurant – the ride back with smooth water and a fun moon is also pretty cool – we’re talking a 10
  • Safety Level: lakes with lots of wild and crazy jet skiers or fast cigarette boats will score low
  • Camping:  we’re looking for beautiful spacious sites right on the water with a nice sandy beach to swim and park the boat
  • Fishing:  the bigger the better and they have to be easy to hook

 

*Fishing information was provided with permission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife (www.tpwd.state.tx.us) in 2006. Texas Parks and Wildlife does not endorse Texas Outside or information presented on texasoutside.com. ©Copyright Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.