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Trip List by boilinginTexas

Texas State Parks - The Good, the Bad and the Gnarly

29 Apr 2008  New vistas, new cool spots to discover
4.5 of 5 stars based on 4 votes

Although I have visited many Texas State Parks in the past, I finally bought a State Park Pass. In keeping with that spirit, I decided to visit as many Texas state parks as I can and write up which ones were worth going to or staying at. Please bear with me as I visit each site and add particulars to this list.

  • 1. Cedar Hill State Park
    Cedar Hill State Park, Cedar Hill, Texas

    25 minutes east of Fort Worth
    Right in our backyard is a sprawling combination of lake, picnicking and camping. Popular primarily for fishing or boating, this park on Joe Pool Lake has over 350 camping areas that range from lakeview to deep woodsy. It has a nice side swimming area, a large expanse of grassy parkland, fishing piers, boat ramps and a demonstration farm. This is not a particularly good park for trail hiking, mountain biking or tour-de-france practice, but it is a good place to stay if you plan on trail hiking or geocaching at the Cedar Hill Mountain Preserve next door, or if you want a good place to camp and sail/boat over the weekend.
    Please see my writeup on choice camping spots at Cedar Hill State Park.
    Check out the events page on the State Park calendar. They often have seminars at the Penn Historical Farm.
    Scenic Views * * * (a couple of walks with a Scenic Overlook, but best lake views are for the daycampers)
    Camping Facilities * * * * (elect and h2o at most of them)
    Outdoor Activities * * * (Sailing, hiking, motorboats, Wildflower hike, Penn Farm, Fishing Derby, Coyote Tracking, Wilderness Survival)
    Proximity to Entertainment * * * (DFW)
    Ambiant Noise * * (Lots of road roar at night from the highway)

  • 2. Cleburne State Park
    Cleburne State Park, Cleburne, Texas

    1 hour south of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views tbd
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * * (hiking, biking, amphitheatre, interpretive trail, swimming, motorboating, fishing)
    Proximity to Entertainment * (Cleburne)

  • 3. Lake Mineral Wells State Park
    Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Mineral Wells, Texas

    1 hour 15 minutes west of Fort Worth - 148 camping spots
    Rustic and rocky with outdoor activities and very quick to get to.
    This secret of a State Park has a lovely manmade lake that you can boat on, fish in, and kayak on. It has a boat ramp, Kayak rentals and a cute little 30 foot sandy beach to swim in the lake.
    This park is known for hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing and equestrian trails, but it is also a scenic place just to go hang out for a weekend. There are no awful spots to camp here, but there are definitely sites better than others.

    Please see my writeup on choice camping spots at Lake Mineral Wells State Park.
    Check out the events page on the State Park calendar. They often have concerts or seminars at their outdoor Amphitheatre.
    Scenic Views * * * *
    Camping Facilities * * * *
    Outdoor Activities * * * * (Bicycle Tours, hiking, wildflower walks, rock climbing, motorboating, kayak/canoe, fishing, equestrian, mountain biking, swimming, Cowboy poetry, Night sounds discussion, Kids Wilderness Survival, Amphitheatre, Wildlife Viewing)
    Proximity to Entertainment * * (Weatherford)
    Ambiant Noise * * * * (If there was sound, we sure didn't hear it)

  • 4. Ray Roberts Lake State Park
    Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Pilot Point, Texas

    1 hour 16 minutes north of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views tbd
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * * (hiking, fishing, biking, equestrian, swimming, sailing, motorboating, canoe/kayak)
    Proximity to Entertainment * * (near Denton and Gainesville)

  • 5. Lake Whitney State Park
    Lake Whitney State Park, Whitney, Texas

    1 hour 26 min south of Fort Worth
    Scenic Views **** (available to overnight and day use)
    Camping Facilities ****
    Outdoor Activities * * * (hiking, biking, interpretive trail, swimming, sailing, motorboating, fishing, airstrip)
    Proximity to Entertainment ** (Near the tiny town of Whitney). NOTE: The State Park entrance is on the far southeast side of the lake on FM1244 a couple of blocks from downtown Whitney. If you come in from the west side (as Google Maps tells you) it will take you another hour or two to get to the entrance on the other side.Get the map from the State Park site itself. From the North, go south on 35, exit Hwy 77west, turn right on Texas 22 into Whitney. Left on FM933/Colorado, right on FM1244)

    See my photos of choice camping spots.

    Lake Whitney is one of the best state parks close to the DFW metroplex. It has a tiny general store with firewood, ice, and tshirts. (but you might want to get your donuts from the Donut Hole right outside the park.
    Most of the sites have some proximity to the lake, but many don't have access due to elevation (ledge).
    Best View: Sunset Ridge: 124-130, (124,126,128,130 best view of lake), Very few trees. but *124 has trees and view.
    Worst sites: Lake View, 111-123, and 131-137, has covered tables but no trees and 131-137 has no view either.
    Most Trees: Horseshoe loop, 1-51, good place to camp when it is cold because it blocks the wind, but no view of lake and very still in summer.
    Screened shelters: Towash 1-21
    RoadRunner: 99-110, (104 and 105 walk to lake)
    BlueBird: 88-98 (91-93 best view)
    StarView : 69-86 (trees at 85 and 86)

  • 6. Lake Tawakani State Park
    http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lake_tawakoni/index...

    1 hour 40 minutes east of Fort Worth
    Scenic Views tbd
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * * (hiking, biking, swimming, sailing, motorboating, mountain biking, wildlife viewing)
    Proximity to Entertainment * (Not near anything)

  • 7. Lake Arrowhead State Park
    http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lake_arrowhead/

    2 hours 13 minutes North and West of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views tbd
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * (Fishing)
    Proximity to Entertainment * * (Wichita Falls)

  • 8. Possum Kingdom State Park
    Possum Kingdom State Park, Caddo, Texas

    2 hours 16 min west and slightly north of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views tbd
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * (hiking, fishing, fireworks, swimming, sailing, motorboating)
    Proximity to Entertainment tbd

  • 9. Lake Brownwood State Park
    Lake Brownwood State Park, Brownwood, Texas

    2 hours 44 min west and south of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views tbd
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * (fishing, motorboating, interpretive trail, small hiking trail, swimming)
    Proximity to Entertainment tbd

  • 10. McKinney Falls State Park
    McKinney Falls State Park, Austin, Texas

    3 hours 16 min south of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views * * * (scenic overlook of falls)
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * (Nature hike, biking, amphitheatre, interpretive trail, historic ruins, scenic overlook, birdwatching, fishing, environmental programs)
    Proximity to Entertainment tbd

  • 11. Inks Lake State Park
    Inks Lake State Park, Burnet, Texas

    3 hours 31 minutes south and a bit west of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views * * * (scenic overlook of Devil's Waterhole)
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * * (hiking, swimming, amphitheatre, motorboating, Canoe/kayak, fishing, gold course, scenic overlook, youth camp, canoe workshops, rock diving, Full Moon Hike, Bluegass Show, Fishing with a Ranger)
    Proximity to Entertainment tbd

  • 12. Pedernales Falls State Park
    Pedernales Falls State Park, Johnson City, Texas

    3 hours 37 minutes south and slightly west of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views * * * * (Scenic overlook of falls and river)
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * * (hiking, interpretive trail, biking, swimming, amphitheater, bird blind, scenic overlook, youth camping)
    Proximity to Entertainment * * (Austin)

  • 13. Bastrop State Park
    Bastrop State Park, Bastrop, Texas

    3 hours 38 minutes south of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views * * * * (Scenic overlook)
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * (Lost Pines hike, fishing, interpretive trail, canoe/kayak, Pioneer Village, pool, interpretive trail, wildlife viewing, canoe rental)
    Proximity to Entertainment tbd

  • 14. Colorado City
    Colorado City, Texas

    3 hours 45 min west of Fort Worth

    Scenic Views tbd
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities * * (interpretive trail, swimming, canoe/kayak, fishing, motorboating)
    Proximity to Entertainment tbd

  • 15. Guadalupe River State Park
    Guadalupe River State Park, Spring Branch, Texas

    4 hours 37 min south of Forth Worth

    Scenic Views tbd
    Camping Facilities tbd
    Outdoor Activities tbd
    Proximity to Entertainment tbd

  • 16. Galveston Island State Park
    Galveston Island State Park, Galveston

    5 hours 7 min South and east of Fort Worth
    Post-IKE update...
    Park is completely toast. No camping is available right now. Day use is available on the Bay side (hot). Texas parks is planning to completely demolish and rebuild the park by October 2009. I'll let you know. Right now, not even the dunes, bathrooms or roads are there.
    -----------------
    Galveston is one of my favorite State Parks, but the most un-parklike state park in Texas. (Namely that is has no trees). What it does have, however, is its very own strip of beach, and lots and lots of RV hookup/electrical camp sites protected from the sea by planted dunes.
    No one who is not a paid camper can go onto their beach, so you practically have it all to yourself. The state park has clean and airy shower/bathroom facilites right next to the beach, full electrical and water and concrete pavillion picnic tables at each site. (which is very handy in the brutal summer sun).
    If you are pitching a tent, the sand is very soft. But bring lots of stakes (or go to Walmart like we did to buy several packs) because the wind is a constant 30mph minimum and sometimes whips around at night. You wouldn't want to wake up floating halfway to mexico.
    The state park offers walking wildlife and marine life tours that are very informative. If you are planning to stay over a holiday weekend, call ahead for reservations. It gets crowded on holidays.
    This state park allows dogs.
    Scenic Views * * * (ocean)
    Camping Facilities * * *
    Outdoor Activities * * * * (walking, off road driving, swimming, jet skiing, beach volleyball, seawall biking, bird watching, plant id tour, wetlands, surf fishing)
    Proximity to Entertainment * * * * (Galveston)