Lake Fort Phantom Information

Fort Phantom Hill Lake sits in Jones County seven miles north of Abilene, Texas, in Central West Texas. Fort Phantom Hill Lake covers 4,213 acres with 29 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 66 feet, and is commonly called "Lake Fort Phantom". The City of Abilene owns and operates Fort Phantom Hill Lake for municipal, industrial, and recreational purposes. 

Elm Creek, a tributary of Clear Fork Brazos River, feeds Fort Phantom Hill Lake. The eastern shoreline of Fort Phantom Hill Lake is developed and only a small portion of its western shoreline is developed. It is in an extremely rural area, and Abilene, Texas, is the only city with shopping and entertainment for miles and miles near this lake.

Fort Phantom Hill Lake lies between US Route 277 and SH 351. It is surrounded by rolling plains and flatlands with stained to muddy and red-colored waters. Fort Phantom Hill Lake is prone to long periods of dropping water levels and moderate to severe fluctuation levels. 

History of Fort Phantom Hill Lake

Construction of Fort Phantom Hill Lake began in June 1937 and was finished in October 1938. There is a historic Fort Phantom Hill, which was one part of a line of forts built from the Red River to the Rio Grande in the early 1850s to protect the westward-moving frontier of Texas settlement. Today, Fort Phantom Hill is part of the Texas Forts Trail, a 650-mile highway tour of historic Texas forts in West Central Texas.

The fort’s original name was “Post on the Clear Fork of the Brazos”, and the U.S. Army occupied it from 1851 until 1854. Three original stone buildings, an intact stone powder magazine, a stone guardhouse, and an almost-intact commissary or warehouse, more than a dozen stone chimneys, and stone foundations from the original fort remain. Eventually, a fire destroyed most of the log walls and thatched roofs of the post’s buildings. 

Nomadic Indians of the Comanche, Kiowa, and Tonkawa Indian tribes roamed the future Jones County region before settlement. The Caddos and Delawares camped along Clear Fork, and Wichitas occasionally hunted in the area. Large herds of bison drifted on these West Texas Plains and provided food and durable goods for the Indians. 

The military outposts guarded the frontier and provided protection to Forty-niners following the Randolph B. Marcy trail across Texas on their way to California. Merchants imported supplies from Austin. In 1858, Fort Phantom Hill became a station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route from St. Louis to San Francisco.

The earliest White settlement of Jones County came in 1851, when the army established Fort Phantom Hill. The Texas legislature established Jones County in February 1858, from Bexar and Bosque counties. Indian raids forced the settlers back east during the Civil War. It took another 15 years to settle Jones County.  In 1872, Fort Phantom Hill was reestablished.

By the mid-1870s, federal troops had removed the Indians, and the buffalo hunters and bone haulers moved in. The last buffalo seen in Jones County was in 1879. Longhorn Cattle ranchers settled in to take advantage of the vast grass ranges. Early ranches included the T-Diamond, established in 1876, and the Ericsdale Ranch of the Swenson Land and Cattle Company, established in 1882. Then the farmers arrived in the region. 

Today, Jones County hosts historic events and recreational opportunities. The Cowboys Christmas Ball and the Texas Cowboy Reunion, held at the site of old Fort Phantom Hill, draw visitors. There are recreational parks for boating and fishing on several of the county's lakes and reservoirs, especially around Fort Phantom Hill Lake.

Fishing Lake Fort Phantom

The predominant game species are hybrid striped and white bass, and blue catfish. Other species include largemouth and Florida largemouth bass, channel and flathead catfish, crappie, freshwater drum, and sunfish. Hybrid striped bass, white bass, and blue catfish angling opportunities are excellent on Fort Phantom Hill Lake. All fish are managed under statewide regulations. Boats must be licensed with the City of Abilene, Texas. 

Texas Parks and Wildlife installed brush piles at the downstream end of Fort Phantom Hill Lake. When the lake is full, the west bank has acres of black willow trees, and aquatic vegetation includes stargrass, bulrush, pondweed, and smartweed. Other areas of the lake are predominantly rocky with boat docks, and humps and ledges can be productive. At low water levels, habitat is limited to rocky areas on the east and north shores and boat docks. 

Four boat ramps are available when Fort Phantom Hill Lake is full. When water is low, two additional ramps are available at Johnson Park. Excellent shore fishing opportunities are available at several areas of the lake. Fort Phantom Hill Lake does not have a marina, but there is one dry storage service. There are a few bait shops. Fishing guides work at Fort Phantom Hill Lake along with several area lakes, and guide services are limited.

Find experienced local guides on our Lake Fort Phantom Fishing Guides page.

Boating Lake Fort Phantom

Fort Phantom Hill Lake has excellent winds for sailboating and windsurfing. Other recreational activities include water skiing, jet skiing, fishing, and kayaking. Rocky points and slim sandy beaches characterize the lake’s shorelines. There are four boat ramps and no marinas. Boats must be licensed with the City of Abilene, Texas. 

There are few stores, and they close early. It is best to bring your gas and supplies with you. Abilene, Texas, is the closest area to buy your supplies. There is one kayak rental service on the southeastern border of Fort Phantom Hill Lake. There are no lakefront restaurants or boat repair services. 

Find or sell a boat on our Fort Phantom Hill Lake Boats for Sale page. 

Lake Fort Phantom Real Estate

Fort Phantom Hill Lake is a small lake and the real estate market for lake homes is limited. The median price for homes is $320,297 and $214 per square foot. New homes are coming on the market as the Fort Phantom Hill Association is moving forward with a planned community of neighborhood homes, weekend cabins, and businesses. 

Abilene, Texas is the nearest town with a population of 124,156, and the only center for entertainment and shopping. Ft. Worth, Texas, is the closest metroplex to Fort Phantom Hill Lake and 140 miles east. There are enough restaurants and a small nightlife in Abilene to keep people happy, but it is not like the big city. 

Dyess Air Force Base is located approximately seven miles southwest of Abilene, Texas. Abilene ISD and private schools serve Fort Phantom Hill Lake’s educational needs. Abilene, Texas, is kid friendly with a cultural history and an arts district with museums. 

To find your dream lake home, explore our Lake Fort Phantom Homes for Sale page.

Fort Phantom Hill Lake Vacation Homes

Vacation home rentals are limited on Fort Phantom Hill Lake, with only two or three available at any given time on the lakefront. There is a bigger selection of vacation homes in Abilene, Texas. The vacation homes are modern, with numerous amenities at a wide range of prices and sleeping arrangements. There are no cabin rentals at Fort Phantom Hill Lake.

Find the perfect vacation home on our Lake Fort Phantom Cabins page. 

Camping at Lake Fort Phantom 

Campgrounds are located at two city parks with primitive camping only on Fort Phantom Hill Lake. No fees or reservations are required, and campers can only stay for 48 hours. Seabee Park is not on Fort Phantom Hill Lake, but on Elm Creek just south of the lake. This park includes five acres of wetlands with four tent sites and no drinking water. It has four campsites, a large pavilion, picnic areas, grills, restrooms, and viewing areas, plus lighting and parking. 

Johnson Park is on the northern shores of Fort Phantom Hill Lake. It has five campsites, a pavilion, playground, outdoor classroom, sand volleyball court, picnic areas, grills, kayak trails, disc golf, an open play field, sidewalks, restrooms, parking, lighting, and a long stretch of waterfront. 

There are two RV parks, Fort Phantom Lakeside RV Park and Honey Hole Phantom Hill RV Park, next to Johnson Park on the northside of Fort Phantom Hill Lake. Fort Phantom Lakeside RV Park offers 14 full hook-up sites, 50 & 30 amp breakers, a 30' x 30' crappie house. The pavilion area is covered with a concrete floor and shade trees. It offers daily, weekly, and monthly rentals. 

The Honey Hole, formerly known as Charlotte's Cove, is a covered and enclosed fishing dock, bait shop, and RV park. Their RV sites include seven lakeside spots with electricity, water, and sewer. Tent camping is available for $15 a night per tent. Fishing fees are $5 a person, $4 for seniors, veterans, and college students, $3 for children, and children under four fish for free.

Check out our list of campgrounds and RV parks for your family adventure on our Lake Fort Phantom Camping page. 

Things to Do at Lake Fort Phantom 

There are no restaurants or nightlife on Fort Phantom Hill Lake, but you can find those in nearby Abilene, Texas. Three golf courses call Abilene, Texas, their home. The Maxwell Golf Course is a public course that is always in great condition. The Abilene Country Club is for members only. The Diamondback Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course open daily to the public.

Fort Phantom Hill is one of the most pristine historic sites in Texas and part of the Texas Forts Trail. Fort Phantom Hill is located two miles north of Fort Phantom Hill Lake’s northern shores at 10818 FM 600, Abilene, Texas. The remains of the fort include three original stone buildings, an intact stone powder magazine, a stone guardhouse and an almost-intact commissary or warehouse, more than a dozen stone chimneys, and stone foundations from the original fort.

Frontier Texas is located in historic downtown Abilene. Frontier Texas is a western heritage center that allows visitors to relive the Old West through the magic of state-of-the-art technology. Frontier Texas brings the frontier to life. Exhibits include "Blood & Treasure on the Frontier", a high definition, surround-sound welcome theater, Wild Land, Comanche Empire, Buffalo Hide Trade, and much more. 

The Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden in Abilene features five sets of sculptures in the garden depicting some of artist Garth Williams’s most iconic characters from best-selling books like Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. The garden is free year round and pet friendly on a leash.

The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature at 102 Cedar Street, Abilene, Texas, celebrates the artistic achievements of children’s book authors and illustrators through exhibits of their original artwork. The center designed educational programming to stimulate creativity, promote literacy, and increase appreciation for the arts. Free weekly art activities are available for children and their families. The bookstore carries a wide selection of children's books.

The Abilene Zoo at 2070 Zoo Lane, Abilene, Texas, features over 1,000 animals representing 250 species, including lions, black rhinos, monkeys, bears, reptiles, birds, and amphibians.

The Grace Museum at 102 Cypress Street, Abilene, Texas, in the heart of downtown in a historic building, is an AAM accredited museum. Changing exhibits feature the best of Texas art, past and present, within the context of American art. Its Children’s Museum offers hands-on learning activities. 

Plan your next activity on our What To Do At Lake Fort Phantom page.

Lake Fort Phantom Weather

Fort Phantom Hill Lake sees an average of 26 inches of rain, with four inches of snow, and 244 days of sunshine per year. The winter low in January is 30 degrees with a summer high in July of 96 degrees. April, May, and October are the most comfortable months for this region.

Keep an eye on the skies with our Lake Fort Phantom Weather Forecast page. 

Lake Fort Phantom Zip Codes

Jones County: 79501, 79503, 79520, 79525, 79533, 79553.

Flora and Fauna at Fort Phantom Hill Lake 

Common wildlife sightings at Fort Phantom Hill Lake are dove, duck, quail, geese, boars, sandhill cranes, squirrels, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer. Fort Phantom Hill Lake is in the rolling plains vegetation area, with tall grasses and mesquite trees. Soils are black to sandy loam with clay subsoils. 

Lake Fort Phantom Email Updates


Lake Fort Phantom Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Lake Fort Phantom Weather Forecast


Severe Tstms

Hi: 98

Saturday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 71



Hi: 98

Sunday Night


Lo: 64

Memorial Day


Hi: 96

Monday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 68


Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 92

Tuesday Night

Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 65

Lake Fort Phantom Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 5/25: 1629.62 (-5.38)

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