Austin has many little sweet spots — tucked away places that seem invisible in the urban landscape until someone points them out.
For years, a sandy beach along the Colorado River in East Austin was one of those places. It’s been the soft dance floor for dozens of parties. It’s been a natural landscape for all kinds of doggie dates and romantic picnics. And it’s the shore of one of lesser-known swimming holes in the city.
They called it Secret Beach. But, as dozens of articles have noted since it became part of Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metropolitan Park in 2012, Secret Beach is secret no more.
But that doesn’t mean there’s a line to get in. Even on a recent, sunny Saturday afternoon, while baseball teams played on nearby diamonds, the hundred-plus-yard beach was host to only a few small groups.
Some skipped rocks across the river. A few young boys waded into the cool water. Dogs chased after frisbees. And a young couple relaxed on a blanket in the sand.
It’s illegal to swim in the river at the park — and pretty much everywhere else in the Colorado River in Austin. Water releases from the nearby Longhorn Dam can cause potentially dangerous currents.
But, still, many can’t resist at least wading in a little ways.
The beach isn’t really a secret, but you won’t find any big signs leading the way.
It’s in Southeast Austin. Enter the park from Grove Boulevard, which is just off of East Riverside Drive. Park by the baseball diamonds at the end of the road. Walk north of the baseball diamonds toward the marked trailhead. Then, just keep right for a couple hundred yards. You’ll head down a relatively steep hill before it opens up, exposing the sandy beach.
The beach is a great place for a picnic, playing with your dog or just exploring the river banks. But if the beach isn’t calling you, there’s plenty more in the park.
Roy G. Guerrero Park had its grand opening in 2013, and it features miles of multi-use trails, sheltered picnic areas, baseball and softball fields and a disc golf course.
The park is also eco-friendly, using reclaimed water to save about 10 million gallons a year.