Editor’s update: It is now illegal to swim or float at Secret Beach, but people still enjoy wading in the water.
Psssst. Hey there, can you keep a secret? Hmm, not me; nor most of Austin — especially when it comes to swimming holes. While what is known as Secret Beach isn’t really much of a secret, it is a pretty sweet spot for splashing and playing in the sand.
I had been hearing about this swimming hole all summer, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally packed up the kids to find this fairly secluded spot. Secret Beach is a little stretch of soft sand along the Colorado River inside the newly renovated Roy G. Guerrero Park in South East Austin. The water is shallow and clear, making it a nice spot for little kids. (Although, from what I understand, it is also a very popular spot for all ages in Austin and can get more crowded and rowdy on late afternoon weekends.)
My family first visited one recent Saturday morning around 9 a.m. We played up the fact that this was a “secret” beach to the delight of our boys, and it immediately had the makings of a good pirate adventure. We followed specific directions that we found on the Internet (a.k.a. our “treasure map”),
which I’ll happily share with you…
Arrive at Roy G. Guerrero Park (400 Grove Blvd.) and keep going until you see the parking lot for the Montopolis Youth Sports Complex. Park your car in that lot, and then cross the road to get on the walking trail. You will follow this trail for less than 10 minutes (at a child’s pace) until you come to a right turn in the path where a sign listing park rules (with doggie clean-up bags) is posted. Then you turn right and go downhill to the beach. It is slightly steep for little legs (or for parents carrying little ones), so be extra careful down this part of the path. But that’s it! You’re now at a small little sandy beach!
Before our visit, my husband and I debated about taking our dog, but since she is often left out of family adventures, we decided to bring her along, and we’re so glad we did. There were about six dogs swimming there that morning, a few people sitting in the water, and one kayak that went by. The kids played in the sand, tried to catch fish, and our dog was immensely happy.
Our only trouble was the “hike” back. My three-year-old had a massive temper tantrum due to the fact that he wanted to be carried back to the car. While preschoolers’ moods aren’t predictable (and I can assume that this would never happen to you), I would advise packing lightly but taking all necessities (snacks, shovels, towels, etc.) because trips to and from the car are not ideal.
When we left, we ventured over to the NEW, awesome, enclosed playground at Roy G. Guerrero Park. Upon seeing it, my little guy quickly changed his cranky tune. He was delighted to climb around on this nature-themed playscape equipped with nature sounds and a mini tightrope walk. He even asked if he could have his birthday party there, which as you know, is the ultimate in park compliments.
If you go to Secret Beach, please keep in mind that water in areas such as the Colorado River can be dangerous at times. Be sure to check the Lower Colorado River Association website for water quality conditions or warnings about water safety. Do have your children wear water shoes to protect those toes. And of course, in any water where a lifeguard is not on duty (such as this), please use your utmost caution.
Roy G. Guerrero Park
400 Grove Blvd.
Austin, TX 78741
Freelance web producer, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys (ages 3, 5, and 7), and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures.