11 Best Lakes near Abilene, TX for Swimming, Fishing, and Boating

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Abilene has a wide selection of lakes. Most of them are medium size reservoirs with simple facilities. Yet, almost all of them are full-on recreational lakes with hardly any restrictions.

There are family-friendly options with picnic spots and beaches, as well as reservoirs for fishing fans and boating enthusiasts.

And the best thing is, almost all the options are within an hour’s drive from the city. Check them out!

Lakes near Abilene:

  1. Kirby Lake
  2. Lake Fort Phantom Hill
  3. Lake Abilene
  4. Oak Creek Reservoir
  5. Lake Coleman
  6. Hords Creek Lake
  7. Lake Sweetwater
  8. Hubbard Creek Lake
  9. Lake Stamford
  10. Lake Cisco
  11. Possum Kingdom Lake
Lakes near Abilene Texas Comparison Table

1. Kirby Lake

  • Official Page: Kirby Lake
  • Distance from Abilene: 6 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Picnics, Sports Fields

Kirby Lake is a 740-acre reservoir just south of Abilene. It’s a popular fishing spot and an excellent place for boating.

Kirby Lake Park provides the only access area to the lake. It remains undeveloped, with just a couple of boat ramps, fishing piers, and restrooms. 

However, right next to the park is a small playground with picnic ramada and a baseball field. In 2018, Kirby Lake Master Plan (pdf) was announced, so the area will likely see improvement soon.

Swimming at Kirby Lake is prohibited due to the poor water quality. However, the local authorities monitor the situation and will open the reservoir for swimming when it’s safe. 

The primary recreation at Kirby Lake is fishing. Although it only scores average reviews, it’s a trendy spot to cast. 

And surprisingly, this small reservoir holds two state records. One of which is for a massive 90-pound bighead carp. Still, blue and channel catfish are the most prevalent species here, followed by largemouth bass and carp.

Overall, Kirby Lake has huge potential, but in the meantime, it’s best left for anglers and boaters.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX

2. Lake Fort Phantom Hill

Lake Fort Phantom Hill
Photo: wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Official Page: Lake Fort Phantom Hill
  • Distance from Abilene: 10 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Picnics, Camping, RVs, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing

Lake Fort Phantom Hill is a 4,213-acre reservoir north of Abilene. It’s the nearest recreational lake with public access and no restrictions.

The most popular spot on the lake is Johnson Park on the northern shore. It’s a buzzing place with picnic spots, playgrounds, tent camping, and boat ramps. This park gets very busy during summer weekends. 

The quieter alternative is the boat ramp on the southern tip of the lake. There are no crowds here but no amenities either.

Also, Lake Fort Phantom Hill is the nearest spot to Abilene, where swimming is allowed. The water clarity is typical of Texan reservoirs, and many folks choose to cool off in summer here.

Other activities include all types of boating, as well as sailing, as the lake is home to the sailing club, which you can find on the eastern shore.

And when it comes to fishing, Lake Fort Phantom Hill is pretty good. The reviews are higher than average, and so are catch sizes. The typical species here are catfish and bass. It’s not uncommon to land a 20-pound blue cat or an 8-pound hybrid bass.

All things considered, the lake is an excellent option for both families with kids and seasoned lake-goers. And it’s just 15 minutes from downtown.

Related: 9 Epic Lakes for Recreation near Lubbock, TX

3. Lake Abilene

Lake Abilene
Photo: flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Official Page: Lake Abilene
  • Distance from Abilene: 18 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Picnics, Camping, RVs

Lake Abilene is just 595 acres in size. It’s a family-friendly destination and an excellent choice for your very first lake trip.

The reservoir is accessed via Lake Abilene State Park, which offers modern facilities, kayak rentals, and a selection of accommodation types, including full-hookup RV sites and yurts.

Although swimming is allowed at Lake Abilene, the park also offers a 1930s-built swimming pool, perfect for cooling off in summer.

Another feature that you don’t get at every lake is a network of hiking and biking trails that sprawl through the park. Altogether, there are over eight miles of paths here.

Yet, this destination has a significant drawback – it’s a no-wake lake. Boating is allowed but is restricted to idle speed, which means no wakeboarding or jet skis. 

Still, more space for kayaking and canoeing. And if you ever wanted to try paddleboarding, it’s an excellent lake to start. It’s quiet and unintimidating.

When it comes to fishing, Lake Abilene is OK. It’s too small to produce lunkers, and despite the frequent stocking, the biting remains average. Great fun for the kids, though.

Overall, this destination is great if you don’t own outdoor equipment yet. Plus, you can always rely on rangers keen to share local knowledge and help with geocaching.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

4. Oak Creek Reservoir

Oak Creek Reservoir
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Oak Creek Reservoir 
  • Distance from Abilene: 49 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Oak Creek Reservoir, also known as Oak Creek Lake, is 2,375 acres in size and is located near Blackwell. It’s a well-kept lake with top reviews and a calm atmosphere.

The lake has three access areas. One of them is just a boat ramp on Route 70. But the other two are more developed spots with RV sites, bait stores, and docks.

A large chunk of the shoreline is private, but generally, shore access is easy. Locals love their lake and keep it pristine, making it one of the cleanest spots around Abilene.

When it comes to activities, there are no restrictions at Oak Creek Reservoir. Swimming, paddling, camping, and boating are all allowed here. And you can also wakeboard and jet ski, although there aren’t many people doing it.

Fishing is OK at the reservoir. In the last five years, it was heavily stocked with largemouth bass, which is a typical catch here. You won’t break the state record, but 4lbs+ fry is common.

Overall, Oak Creek Reservoir is a hidden gem that rarely disappoints. If you like serene but developed lakes, this is it.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX

5. Lake Coleman

Lake Coleman
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Lake Coleman
  • Distance from Abilene: 44 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Lake Coleman is a 2,000-acre reservoir southeast of Abilene. It’s another hidden gem with well-kept facilities and some of the highest ratings.

Although there is only one access area to the reservoir, it’s well-developed and has everything you might need on a lake trip. 

In addition to the standard boat ramps, picnic spots, and camping, it also has a marina with a bait shop that works during the season. Plus, there is a small RV park and a selection of cottages, giving plenty of accommodation options.

Like many lakes around Abilene, it has no restrictions on recreation. However, note that this reservoir has some standing timber which is great for the bass population but can be dangerous when wakeboarding or skiing.

Talking about fishing, it’s a bass lake. It was stocked with largemouth in 2019 and scores some of the top reviews nowadays. 

Further, the underwater vegetation creates the perfect habitat, sustaining a healthy bass population. The bite is strong, but sizes are nothing to write home about.

The only drawback is that the lake gets quite busy during summer weekends. Probably because it has just one access point, still, it’s a fantastic option that shouldn’t be missed.

Related: 9 Epic Lakes for Recreation near Lubbock, TX

6. Hords Creek Lake

Hords Creek Lake
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Hords Creek Lake 
  • Distance from Abilene: 52 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

At 510 acres, Hords Creek Lake is a relatively small reservoir. However, it’s surrounded by parks and recreational areas, making it one of the best choices for lake getaways.

Thanks to its modest size, the reservoir feels cozy and unintimidating. The shoreline is dotted with oak trees, and local deer pose for photographs.

The parks around the lake offer camping, RV sites, picnic shelters, and boat ramps. Naturally, swimming is allowed at Hords Creek Lake, and some areas even have designated beaches.

Boating activities like wakeboarding, skiing, and tubing are possible, too. However, you have to bring all the gear and a boat with you. The reservoir doesn’t have any rental facilities, which is the biggest drawback here.

Fishing is OK at Hords Creek Lake. It scores above average for that. You can fish from the boat, ADA-accessible piers, or anywhere from the shore; the access is excellent.

Unlike some other options on the list, this lake is set up for recreation. It’s one of the top choices around Abilene, and it shouldn’t disappoint.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

7. Lake Sweetwater

Lake Sweetwater
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: Lake Sweetwater
  • Distance from Abilene: 38 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Lake Sweetwater is a small 630-acres reservoir west of Abilene. It’s a simple place that suffered greatly during the droughts, but it’s treasured by locals and offers a crowd-free experience.

The lake has just one access point located next to the spillway. Here you will find a large boat ramp, tent and RV sites, a fishing pier, and a store with kayak rentals and a restaurant.

Swimming is allowed at Lake Sweetwater, but it’s not recommended. The reservoir is prone to algae bloom, and the bottom isn’t clean. Still, many people do, but bringing swimming shoes is highly recommended.

When the water is high, this is an excellent boating lake that allows for wakeboarding, skiing, and even sailing. You can check the current level here

In 2019, the reservoir was stocked with 500,000 largemouth bass to help the population recover after the drought. Yet, the fishing reports from here are scarce, and you rarely see a largemouth above three pounds.

Overall, Lake Sweetwater is a simple option without any bells and whistles. It’s not as popular as other lakes on the list, but it’s excellent if you want to avoid crowds.

Related: 9 Amazing Lakes near Wichita Falls, TX

8. Hubbard Creek Lake

Hubbard Creek Lake
Source: Tobias Tullius / unsplash
  • Official Page: Hubbard Creek Lake
  • Distance from Abilene: 54 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

At 14,922 acres, Hubbard Creek Lake is the largest reservoir near Abilene. It offers a mix of private and public access areas, but it’s not as highly regarded as smaller reservoirs.

The lake has half a dozen access spots, but Bridgeview on Route 180 and Village Inn on the eastern shore are the most developed ones. Here, you will find campgrounds, RV sites, motels, boat ramps, and piers.

Naturally, this lake’s size is its biggest advantage. It never feels crowded, and there is plenty of space for fast boating activities like skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing.

Also, it’s a superb lake for paddling. Unlike many reservoirs in Texas, where the shoreline is uniform and boring, this lake offers limestone cliffs, coves, and bridges to explore. However, you will have to bring your own craft as there are no rental facilities here.

In addition, Hubbard Creek Lake is an excellent fishing reservoir. It’s large enough to produce lunkers, and thanks to the rich underwater vegetation, it supports a healthy fish population. Bass over 4 pounds is prevalent here.

Despite all these advantages, the lake doesn’t get top reviews. Probably because the facilities aren’t as good as they could be, it definitely needs a rental shop with kayaks and pontoon boats. 

Related: 9 Epic Lakes for Recreation near Lubbock, TX

9. Lake Stamford

Lake Stamford
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: Lake Stamford
  • Distance from Abilene: 50 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Lake Stamford is a 5,124-acre reservoir north of Abilene. It’s another fantastic option within an hour’s drive from the city, especially for anglers.

The lake has two marinas for access. Both offer bait shops, camping, boat ramps, and piers. However, the Stamford Lake Marina also has cabins and RV hook-ups.

Like most lakes in Texas, there are no restrictions on recreation here. Boating, paddling, and swimming are all allowed, although there are no boat rentals here.

From 2015 to 2019, the reservoir has been stocked with largemouth bass, which is the most typical catch here. Also, you can expect white bass, gar, and catfish; some cats here reach a pretty good size.

As usual, fishing is best from the boat, but both marinas have fishing piers, and the bank access is generally easy.

Overall, Lake Stamford doesn’t stand out. It’s just another option within an hour’s drive from Abilene. 

Related: 9 Amazing Lakes near Wichita Falls, TX

10. Lake Cisco

Lake Cisco
Source: pasja1000 / pixabay
  • Official Page: Lake Cisco
  • Distance from Abilene: 50 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, Cabins

Lake Cisco is a 1,050-acre reservoir east of Abilene. It’s a popular spot for fishing and boating activities.

This reservoir isn’t great for picnicking or lying on the beach, as it doesn’t have any parks. However, it’s a pretty good spot for boating, paddling, and fishing.

It has two access areas. The North Ramp is just a launching ramp with parking and primitive camping. 

However, the South Ramp has cabins, RVs for hire, and kayak and SUP rentals provided by Lake Cisco Rentals. This is excellent as most reservoirs don’t have rentals.

The most popular activity on the lake is fishing, and it’s well-rated, too. Although it’s modest in size, there is plenty of largemouth bass here. Catches over 5 pounds are rare, but the bite is good.

Overall, Lake Cisco is best suited for boaters and paddlers. It doesn’t really have wide-open areas for picnics or BBQs. 

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX

11. Possum Kingdom Lake

Possum Kingdom Lake
Source: Nicolas Henderson / CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Possum Kingdom Lake
  • Distance from Abilene: 90 miles (1h 40min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Sailing, Hiking, Camping, Cabins, RVs, Scuba Diving

Possum Kingdom Lake is a large 15,588-acre reservoir 90 miles from Abilene. It’s one of the top recreational lakes in Texas, with clear water and every activity imaginable.

The lake is dotted with parks, marinas, and campgrounds. But if this is your first time visiting, Possum Kingdom State Park is the best place to start. It offers modern facilities, designated beaches, and reliable park rangers who are always ready to help.

In addition to the typical lake activities, you can try sailing, scuba diving, and snorkeling here. Also, unlike many lakes in Texas, PK offers miles of trails for hiking and biking.

Compared to other options on the list, this reservoir excels at rental facilities. There are dozens of outfits available; you can hire anything from a paddleboard to a SeaDoo. 

And when it comes to fishing, it’s fantastic here. It’s a bass lake that produces good-size fish. For example, the biggest largemouth caught here was 16 pounds, and the biggest striped bass was a whopping 34 pounds. If you want the best fishing experience, hiring a guide is recommended.

When it comes to drawbacks, there are just a few. Firstly, the lake gets rather busy, especially during the events like Red Bull Cliff Diving in 2018. Also, it’s a pricey place. If you want to take advantage of everything the lake offers, you’ll have to splash out. But it’s worth it!

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