I love pitching a tent in the backcountry, but every now and then, when I’m feeling soft, I can’t resist bedding down in a cabin.
A few weeks ago, I checked in at Lake Bastrop North Shore Park, where I’d booked a night in the new six-person cabin built by a company called GLAT. I slid open the barn-style door of the fully furnished, one-room bungalow, flopped onto a king-sized bed as refrigerated air caressed my neck. Never once did I miss the hassle of unpacking a tent or driving stakes into the ground. After a few relaxing minutes, I rose from the bed, changed into my swimsuit and relocated to the inflatable hot tub just outside the cabin’s front door.
This cabin is nothing like the no-frill cabins at Bastrop State Park just down the road. I love those too –– the way they’re tucked in the tall pines and built of hewn timbers and local stone. But Lake Bastrop North Shore offers an entirely different experience.
An upscale cabin at Lake Bastrop
This beauty sleeps six –– two people in the big bed, and four more in the two pull-out day beds in the same room. There’s a spacious bathroom, complete with an actual toilet, a glassed-in shower and a sink with a long countertop, plus a nook with a mini-fridge and coffee maker. Outside you’ll find a long dining table, an outdoor grill, a sink for washing the dishes, a firepit with chairs, and that steaming hot tub. You can even rent an inflatable movie screen and watch a flick after dark, although I prefer stargazing.
Is it worth the cost?
But you’ll pay for the more upscale experience. A six-person cabin at Bastrop State Park rents for $150 per night. This one will set you back between $400 and $500 per night, depending on the season and day of the week.
If you do bite the bullet, plan accordingly. My husband and I made a romantic evening of it, first bringing steaks and asparagus to cook on the outdoor gas grill and then opening a bottle of wine to enjoy on the porch as the sun set. Later we soaked in the hot tub, and strolled around the park, enjoying the rain-cooled evening.
Sunday nights are quiet at the park, we found out. A few folks staying in the nearby Airstream trailers, also available for rent, wandered past. But from our porch, we couldn’t see anyone else. A screen of trees separates the cabin from the safari tents next door. (Those tents, by the way, are furnished with cushy beds, but no bathroom. Guests get to use the community bathhouse down the path.)
As the sky turned from blue to purple and finally black, a zigzagging line of lights strung among the trees outside our abode blinked on, adding to the cozy atmosphere. A few minutes later, the tree frogs started croaking.
A park to explore at Lake Bastrop
The cabin makes a good home base for exploring this hidden gem of a park, which covers 182 acres. Families will appreciate playground equipment like swings and a tetherball game. Little kids can build sand castles on a small sandy beach. Teens and adults can rent kayaks and standup paddleboards while anglers can cast a line off two docks.
Just remember that the water in Lake Bastrop, a cooling lake for a nearby power plant, is nearly as warm as what fills that hot tub. In the summer, water temperatures hover in the low 90s. You can’t really go for a “refreshing” swim.
Time to relax
That’s not what we were here for this time. We sat on the porch and played a few dice games, but turned in early, then rose with the sun to go for a trail run. A 4.5-mile pathway winds over narrow wooden bridges and beneath towering oaks and pines. Spiderwebs glistened in the morning dew. The trail extends all the way to South Shore Park, another LCRA facility on Bastrop Lake, but we turned back at the midway point.
Sweaty and happily worn out from our run, we toasted the new day with coffee and juice on our porch.
We soaked in the view of the lake, now cast in a silvery hue, and stayed a little longer. No rush this time. We didn’t have a tent to take down, just a few bags to toss in the truck.
Every now and then, that’s what I need.
If You Go
From Austin, it takes about an hour to get to Lake Bastrop North Shore Park at 603 FM 1441. For more information about the park go to https://www.lcra.org/parks/lake-bastrop-north-shore-park/
Book the cabin (or a safari tent or bell-shaped tent) at www.glataustin.com. The park also rents Airstream trailers for $225 per night; campsites cost $35 to $40 per night.
Rent a standup paddleboard or kayak, fish from the dock, hike the 4.5-mile trail between North Shore and South Shore parks, or play a game of tetherball.
Eat & Drink:
You could make the 10-minute drive to Bastrop (The Roadhouse at 2804 Highway 21 East makes a good burger), but I’d recommend stocking up on groceries and cooking on the outdoor gas grill. Dishes and cookware are provided and cleanup is easy in the outdoor sink.
If you’re into cycling, bring your gravel bike and explore some of the rural roads around Bastrop, including Gotier Trace and Antioch roads.