Discover Austin: Hippie Hollow - Episode 100

Discover Austin released it's first episode 1,552 days ago and has taken us all across Austin and Central Texas. Now, we've arrived at the 100th episode! I think there's only one Austin destination suitable to fill this monumental spot. Join me as I bare it all at Hippie Hollow! If you'd prefer to read about this classic Austin spot, the transcript can be found below the video.

Greetings!  I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty.  Located along the shores of Lake Travis is the only public park in Texas that’s clothing optional.  We’re going to visit Hippie Hollow on the 100th episode of Discover Austin.

Hippie Hollow is, with one major exception, just like other parks in the Travis County Parks system.  It’s got a gorgeous shoreline and some nice trails.  But it’s best known for what it doesn’t have – clothes.  While the park’s distinction is well-known, there are signs giving notice for those who might not be familiar.  So what are the ground rules?  Well, it’s a clothing optional beach so you can swim naked here, you can sun bath au natural, and you can walk around in the buff all you want.  But that’s it.  Lewd activities are against the law and not tolerated.  And don’t come here to be a gawker.  If you think this is some haven of supermodels and Fabio’s, you’ve got it all wrong.  This is just regular people with regular bodies doing regular county park things.  To be clear, you don’t have to be naked to visit the park.  You’ll certainly see some people wearing swimsuits, shorts, and shirts, but most people utilize Hippie Hollow because they don’t want to wear anything.

Almost 100,000 people visit the park each year.  It covers over 100 acres and has more than a half mile of Lake Travis shoreline.  But there’s no beach here.  In this area, the shoreline is simply rocks all the way down to the water.  How far down you have to go depends upon the lake level, which fluctuates based on rainfall.  So its actually a good idea to wear something on your feet.  With the expansive shoreline, you can usually find a private area if you’d rather not be around other people.  But Hippie Hollow can be a very social place.  Just keep your eyes up when you’re talking to somebody, got it.  Almost the entire length of park has a swimming area that is marked off from boats so there’s plenty of room to be in the water.  There’s a main pathway from the parking lot that runs almost the full length of the park.  Restrooms can be found along the path as well as the occasional staircase to take you down to the water.  There’s also what they call a “primitive” trail which is simply a dirt walking path through the park.  Part of this trail is located in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve so you’ll need to stick to the path while exploring.

A few more things you should know before coming out to Hippie Hollow.  First, pets are not permitted so leave them home.  Your pet is naked all the time so this park isn’t anything special to them.  Second, alcohol is permitted, but absolutely no glass bottles.  The glass bottles thing be a no-brainer given the combination rocks and nude people, but I want to make sure you know about it.  Third, no one under 18 is permitted.

Hippie Hollow was originally called McGregor Park.  It wasn’t designed as nude park, but just developed that way.  It’s owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority and has been here since Lake Travis was formed by the Mansfield Dam back in 1941.  It was just raw land with no parking, trails, or facilities of any kind.  It used to be very remote and far removed from Austin, but people were known to skinny dip there.  By the 1960s, it was well-known for being a place you didn’t have to wear clothes and that’s when the Hippie Hollow name became popular.  As the park became a bigger draw in the 1970s, bills were introduced in the state legislature to require clothes, but they didn’t go anywhere.  Neighbors tried to get the park closed down, but that effort also went nowhere.  Some people were arrested for public nudity, but no jury would convict them.  The Sheriff’s office felt resources were best used elsewhere and stopped making arrests.  In 1985, Travis County took over the management of the park, adding trails, restrooms, and parking.  The intent of the county is to provide a safe, clean park allowing Hippie Hollow’s tradition to thrive and helping to Keep Austin Weird.

Hippie Hollow certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you’d like to give a try, stop on by. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen – lots and lots of sunscreen.  I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty.  Thanks for joining me for the 100th episode of Discover Austin.  And remember, when you’re ready to buy or sell a home in Central Texas, I’m ready to help.

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