When the sun's out and the temperature is climbing, there's no better place to enjoy Austin's rugged, hilly scenery than Hippie Hollow Park, a lovely expanse of precipitous limestone cliffs and promontories set along the eastern shore of serpentine Lake Travis.
Hippie Hollow is unusual and popular for one major reason: it's the only public park in Texas where nudity is officially permitted. It's not surprising that you'd find such a place on the outskirts of liberal, countercultural, and LGBT-friendly Austin.
One particular section of the park has a hugely loyal following among LGBT sunbathers, who flock here just about any day of the year there's sun and temperatures above 50 degrees.
History of Hippie Hollow Park
The former McGregor Park was renamed in 1985 when Travis County took ownership. It had long been a popular nude swimming area, and local authorities tended to ignore complaints as long as swimmers were not doing anything else illegal.
Travis County designated Hippie Hollow an 18-and-older beach in 1995, due to its established identity as a clothing-optional beach.
Finding Hippie Hollow's LGBT Beach
Hippie Hollow is about a half-hour drive northwest of Austin. Take the MoPac Expressway (or Highway 1) north for about 5 miles from the west side of downtown to Highway. 2222, which leads west about 12 miles to the park.
The slightly trickier part is finding your way to the LGBT section once you're at Hippie Hollow's parking lot, and you've paid the day-use fee. Once you've parked, walk down the stone steps to the paved pathway, and at the public bathrooms, turn left and start walking.
If it's a nice day, you'll almost certainly encounter men and a handful of women strolling nude along the path, and sunning themselves on the rocks below, which extend from the paved path to the water.
Keep following the paved trail as it winds, and at the end of the paved section, steps and a path leading to an expanse of rocks that constitute the unofficial gay section.
Be sure to watch your step. The rocks are steep, and if you're swimming, be careful not to dive or swim into a rocky section submerged just below the water surface.
Hippie Hollow Beach Gay Events
Of particular note, the gay community holds a few big gatherings throughout the warmer months. Kicking off the season, First Splash Weekend is held by several key gay bars and other Austin community businesses over Memorial Day Weekend.
Another increasingly fun and free-spirited get-together is the Annual Hippie Hollow Otter Fest, held in mid-July.
Then at the close of the summer season, Splash Weekend at Hippie Hollow is held over Labor Day weekend.
Rules of Hippie Hollow Park
Heed the park's myriad rules and warnings, and note the strictly enforced hours - all of this info is posted on the park's website. Another excellent site on the park offering additional information is HippieHollow.com.