Chalk Ridge Falls Park

Chalk Ridge Falls Park by Stillhouse Hollow Lake Dam will close temporarily for two weeks starting Friday.

BELTON — A popular Bell County nature area by Stillhouse Hollow Lake will close for two weeks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials announced.

Starting Friday, Chalk Ridge Falls Park, 5600 FM 1670, will be closed for two weeks as Corps officials perform a periodic inspection of the dam and its associated structures.

The park — closed until May 14 — will be used as a staging area for workers and heavy equipment during the closure.

“In order to keep the public safe, the park must be closed to visitors. No walk-ins will be allowed,” agency spokesman Clay Church said in a news release. “We appreciate the public’s understanding and the support of this mission essential maintenance work.”

The popular Belton area spot, adjacent to the Lampasas River, has miles of hiking trails, rocky bluffs and a spring-fed waterfall.

Brad Ellis, interim lake manager, said Chalk Ridge is so popular that outdoor enthusiasts and hikers are often lined up to enter the park at 8 a.m. many mornings.

“We know it’s a popular place with the local population,” Ellis told the Telegram Tuesday. “We don’t like to close the park, but this is for needed maintenance.”

The work at the park will include an inspection completed every five to seven years in which engineers enter the dam infrastructure to check for any damage to the structure.

“There’s going to be a lot of heavy equipment and moving parts so we aren’t allowing walk-ins,” Ellis said.

When the park was closed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, visitors would park along FM 1670 and walk in to access the park. FM 1670, Ellis said, was lined with cars on both sides near the entrance at several times.

Stillhouse Hollow Lake — initially called Lampasas Lake — was built by the Army Corps of Engineers from 1962 to 1968. Congress designated the dam as Stillhouse Hollow Dam in September 1959, according to U.S. government statutes.

The lake at its conservation pool elevation of 622 feet above sea level covers 6,430 acres with 15,271 acres of public land above the pool. The federal boundary line is 67.5 miles long.

Chalk Ridge Falls Park, managed by the Corps of Engineers, is included an update of its comprehensive land and recreational management master plan for the area. The plan, last updated in the 1970s, will guide the agency for the next 25 years as planning continues, officials said.

“The master plan study area includes Stillhouse Hollow Lake proper and all adjacent recreational and natural resources properties under (Corps) administration,” Church previously said. “Revision of the master plan does not address in detail the technical operational aspects of the reservoir related to the water supply or flood risk management missions of the project. Stillhouse Hollow Lake is a multi-purpose reservoir constructed and managed for flood risk management, water supply, fish and wildlife, and recreation.”

On Tuesday, Stillhouse Hollow Lake was at 621.68 feet above sea level, slightly below its normal elevation. The lake was releasing one cubic foot per second into the Lampasas River.

For information, contact the lake office at 254-939-2461.