The 5 Biggest Lakes near Houston, Texas

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: June 7, 2023
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Houston, Texas, is home to at least 70 lakes within 25 miles of the city. A lot of the lakes are recreational and popular spots for locals. Some of these lakes are massive and have some incredible fun facts! Over 22.3 million people visit Houston, Texas, yearly, and many don’t realize there are precious and large lakes near the big city.

Ready to discover the 5 biggest lakes near Houston, Texas? Here’s a preview in pictures:

Keep on reading to learn more about these important lakes!

1. Lake Livingston

Lake Livingston

Lake Livingston has a surface area of 130 square miles.

©Derek Jeffries/

First on our list is Lake Livingston, which has a surface area of 130 square miles. It is an artificial lake built and maintained by the Trinity River Authority (TRA) of Texas since 1966. Its main purpose is to provide water to Houston, Texas. Lake Livingston is 31 miles long and 9 miles wide, with an average depth of 23 feet. The maximum depth is over 3 times as deep as the average at 90 feet. To showcase how massive this lake is, it has 450 miles of shoreline.

There are two main islands in the lake which are frequently visited, which are Alligator Island and Pine Island. While Lake Livingston was manufactured for water-supply purposes, locals enjoy recreational activities like swimming, birdwatching, boating, kayaking, and fishing. There are three boating ramps and multiple scenic and calm fishing spots. Test your luck and see if you can catch perch at Lake Livingston.

2. Lake Conroe

A view through some trees of Lake Conroe, Texas

Lake Conroe runs into Sam Houston National Forest.


Lake Conroe is a reservoir near Houston. Its surface area is 21,000 acres. This lake is only partially located in Conroe, Texas, and is maintained by Montgomery County. The average depth of this lake is 20 feet, while the maximum depth is 75 feet. There are three natural islands within Lake Conroe. This lake is also one of the newest in the Houston area and was only completed in 1970.

The lake runs into Sam Houston National Forest, where visitors can partake in multiple activities like camping, skiing, boating, and more. Since Houston is close to the swamp and parts of Louisiana, you can expect to find alligators in the water or basking on the ledge. There are two public entry points for swimming in the lake. There are large monster fish in this lake that attract thousands of visitors yearly.

3. Addicks Reservoir

Addicks Reservoir

Even though the reservoir and dam have a clear purpose, the land surrounding them (roughly 26,000 acres or 105 sq km) is full of nature and readily explorable trails.

©Junker Photography/

Addicks Reservoir has a recent history. Like most of the lakes on this list, it is artificial. This reservoir was built to prevent flooding in Houston. Addicks Reservoir sits on 26,000 acres of land, including recreational areas and nature observation opportunities. This lake is not the most popular to visit near Houston, but it is one of the biggest.

If you decide to visit and enjoy Addicks’ Reservoir, you won’t get bored with all the activities to do. Bird watching is a favorite for most locals. You can spot quails, woodpeckers, and songbirds. There are also trails available for hiking and cycling. While not part of the lake, you can also join a 54-hole golf course in the reservoir. Pay attention to your surroundings when hiking one of the Addicks Reservoir trails since bobcats frequent the area.

4. Lake Houston

Lake Houston

Lake Houston is a large reservoir on the San Jacinto River.

©Angela Feltes/

As its iconic name suggests, Lake Houston is in Houston, Texas. It is a large reservoir on the San Jacinto River. Not only can you do recreational activities on this lake, but it also supplies water to Houston. The surface elevation for this lake is 44 feet, and the surface area is 11,854 acres. When the lake is filled, the water volume extends to an impressive 160,000 acre-foots. While it is a large lake, its maximum depth is only 45 feet.

When traveling to Lake Houston, you can enjoy the water. There are many areas where swimming, boating, and fishing are allowed. Be aware, though, that some alligators have been spotted in Lake Houston over the last few decades. However, they are not extremely common. Blue catfish and largemouth bass are largely in supply in the lake. Near the lake is a wilderness park that offers camping so you can make the best of your trip!

5. Smithers Lake

Smithers Lake

Smithers Lake was built on the Brazos River.

©Texas state government / CC0 1.0 – License

You may have noticed that all lakes on this list are artificial. Many Houston lakes were designed to decrease the chances of flooding and for an additional water supply. Smithers Lake was built on the Brazos River. It is a great vacation spot with plenty of rental options near the lake. The surface elevation is 66 feet, while the surface area is 2480 acres.

NRG Energy owns Smithers Lake and maintains it as the cooling-water supply for an electricity generating station. It is not a recreational lake, though, but you can still walk around the area and enjoy the views. Fishing is not allowed on this lake, but even if it was, you wouldn’t want to. You have a better chance of seeing and catching a large alligator than a fish.

Summary of 5 Biggest Lakes near Houston, Texas

Ranked by Surface Area SizeNameSurface Area in AcresFeatures
1.Lake Livingston83,000Swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, bird watching
2.Lake Conroe21,000Camping, water skiing, boating, fishing
3.Addicks Reservoir16,780Bird watching, hiking, cycling
4.Lake Houston11,854Boating, fishing, swimming, camping
5.Smithers Lake2480Cooling water for electric generation station; some cabin rentals.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Angela Feltes/

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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