Thursday April 11, 2019
Thursday we drove over to Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway and back. In the future we might want to stay in Lake Mineral Wells if we were going to be in the area.
The park’s best and most interesting park features were built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
The above stone picnic tables and stone grill are located in the day use area next to the Penitentiary Hollow Overlook. This area of the park is up high on a bluff overlooking the lake. When the lake can be seen through the foliage, the views are pleasing. Old growth post oaks cover this part of the park.
Penitentiary Hollow entrance signs were pretty clear. Especially the “USE CAUTION” sign. Summarizing: This is a really dangerous trail so be super careful or avoid this trail altogether. This is first Texas park I’ve seen with a rock climbing area.
The day use area of the park seems to have more restrooms than other parks. Spotlessly clean with fixtures in good repair.
The park’s lakeside concession store, The Trailway Trading Post, wasn’t open. Thursday hours were 1:00 to 6:00 PM. Cafe style seating could be seen through the door. The building is CCC construction and the surrounding gardens were pretty. Hours were posted on the door.
Campgrounds are accessible via a road that doubles as the spillway. When the lake gets full, water spills over the wall running over the roadway into the spillway. Driving the spillway road can be a bit eerie. Looking out toward the lake makes it apparent that the road is much lower than the water.
Turtles and a Canadian Goose bobbing in the water at eye level stared at us as we drove past. Felt odd and exhilarating being at the same level as the wildlife. Like you could reach out and touch them.
Normally, screened shelters are nothing to write home about. However, after leaving the spillway area, the road rises quickly to rise to the top of a bluff. Many of the screened shelters sitting on the bluff have fabulous lake views. Lake front property. We saw campers in the shelters midweek which is unusual for Texas State Parks.
Further down the same road are the campgrounds. Some camping loops are more level than others. Depending on the accuracy of the reservation system campsite descriptions, it might be hard to get reservations right for a level site. Some of the campsites are literally on the water. The lake may have been up higher than usual. The lakeside campsites seemed a bit flooded in places.
We did pay attention to mobile phone signals. Both AT&T and Verizon had mostly one to three bars but there are a few dead spots. Can’t live without mobile Internet.
Six tenths of a mile from the above sign, the State Park trail intersects with a trailway connecting the towns of Mineral Wells, Garner and Weatherford. The twenty mile trailway built on former railroad track bed supports hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Down the same path is the park’s amphitheater. Nicest State Park Amphitheater. Ever. The stage is large enough to support theater productions. Not sure how the sound would work out. Bring your own chair.
Hope to see you on the road ahead.