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Take a ride on an electric boat, fish without a license (and with free loaner gear), hike, bike, boat or just enjoy the flora and fauna of the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

You can do it all at Inks Lake State Park, located on Park Road 4 between Burnet and Marble Falls. It’s just a few miles west of U.S. 281.

New hiking trails just opened, winding through granite outcroppings, live oak, cactus, and mesquite along the banks of Inks Lake. The water in Inks, which is a constant-level lake in the Colorado River chain that runs from Buchanan to Bastrop, is what really makes the park special, says Carol Adams, a naturalist at the park.

“Having the water in Inks makes for beautiful vistas when you’re on the trails,” Adams says. “It makes for diverse opportunities for activities, too.”

For example, she suggests kayaking for an upper body workout, then hiking the trails for the lower body. You can swim in the warmer months and enjoy the bird-watching and fishing all year around.

And if you don’t know how to do any of that, Adams and her fellow rangers can help.

Every Friday, you can fish with a ranger on one of the park’s two piers using equipment from the tackle loaner program. And because you’re fishing in a state park, you don’t need a license, Adams says. Check the website at for times, as they change throughout the year.

Also depending on weather and the time of year, electric boat rides around the lake are available for an extra charge.

“In December, I do what is called a Jingle Bell Jaunt on the weekends,” Adams says. “We have hot chocolate at the park store and we get in the boat and go for a cruise. We may even sing a carol or two!”

The rangers also offer electric boat sunset cruises, kayaking lessons and tours (including a midnight paddle), and organized hikes and bird-watching with a naturalist. Bird-watching treks are on foot and by boat. Hiking can include lessons in geology or plants and animals, take your pick.

The Magic of Murmurations is just one example of a nature hike available at the park.

“A murmuration is when black birds and grackles fly into a cove to roost,” Adams says. “Thousands of them come from all directions and they make these patterns in the sky called murmurations, where they all turn at the same time, getting ready to land in the reeds.”

Murmurations this fall and winter will be followed by Owl Prowls, another bird-hiking feature dreamed up by this creative, nature-loving ranger.

“Fall and winter are the best times to go for hikes,” Adams says. “We have beautiful colors in winter that are like fall in other parts of country, and the water is so peaceful. When the sun comes out and reflects on beautiful calm, blue water, it is just so tranquil and healing. Who doesn’t need that in the winter?”