The Texas Trailhead welcomes a new contributor, and author of the Texas State Park Adventures series, Jefferson Marshall. Continue on to read his Cleburne State Park visit recap.
Check out his amazing books on his website to learn more about some of our state parks.
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Cleburne State Park Visit Recap
If you’re in the DFW area wondering if [Cleburne State Park] is worth the drive, the answer is undeniably yes.
Cleburne State Park is located about an hour’s drive away from Fort Worth. It’s arguably the closest park to the DFW Metroplex, unless you’re visiting Cedar Hills State Park, which rests in the heart of the city on Joe Pool Lake.
For daytrippers or overnight campers, Cleburne, TX has everything needed to stock up the cooler with meals or to grab a quick bite before heading into the park (also The Published Page Bookshop is worth the look for book lovers).
At the entrance, a rock wall holds in place the picturesque state park sign- complete with brown background and engraved yellow lettering reading “Cleburne State Park”.
At the headquarters, there is a drive-up check in and small gift shop to explore before enjoying the rest of the park (truth be told, the gift shop was closed when I drove through, but I did do some window shopping).
CCC & Texas State Parks
The Civilian Conservation Corps are responsible for creating some of the loveliest state parks Texas has to offer. Learn more about which parks they helped build.
Cleburne State Park was believed to be a home to the Comanche amid the backdrop of the Civil war. In the late 1930s and early 1940s the land was purchased and facilities were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. CCC Company #3804 construction includes (but was not limited to) an entry bridge, a portion of Park Road 21, a dam, and a three-tiered limestone spillway.
Cleburne State Park Trails
In total, Cleburne State Park showcases eleven trails/loops.
The longest trail, Fossil Ridge Trail (2.5 mi) follows the west and north border of the park. Camp Creek Loop (1.1 mi) takes you along the scenic CCC-fashioned Camp Creek Bridge. With the spillway levels low in November, my wife and I enjoyed combining White-tail Hollow Trail (1.9 mi) and Spillway Trail (0.7 mi) for a look at the CCC Spillway and a scenic view of Cedar Lake from the dam located on its southern border.
Located within the park is Cedar Lake, a 116 acre lake. This lake is perfect for fishing and kayaking with several piers and boat ramps to choose from. Crappie Cove, Perch Point, Sandy Flats, and Bluecat Bottom (0.1mi – 0.3mi) are fishing trails each surrounding the lake.
Coyote Run Nature Trail (1.7 mi), Limestone Ridge Trail (1.7mi), and Inner Loop Trail (1.7mi) are technical biking trails complete with twists and switchbacks.
Points of Interest
Hanging close to the park road and lake you’ll see the Camp Creek Bridge and CCC Spillway. The Camp Creek Day Use Area was a great location for my wife and I to enjoy lunch together, soaking in the sunlight on the late November afternoon. Cedar Lake Beach is also perfect for swimming in the warmer months. For the children, there is even a playground located on the northwest side of the lake. I also noticed a sign reading “Cleburne State Park- Photo Scavenger Hunt.” While exploring the park, if a picture is taken of each item on the list, a prize awaits the successful scavenger at the park headquarters. Some of the photo requirements include snapshots of bugs, rocks, birds,and mammals.
Most camping options are located on the far north end of the park. Campsites with water and electricity are plentiful. The five different camping loops are each equipped with restrooms and showers within walking distance. Screen shelters are available as well. Especially interesting are the spacious and well-kept cabins complete with Dining Hall for special use.
Cleburne is certainly a smaller and quieter state park perfect for escaping the bustle of the city. It’s always a pleasure to marvel at the engenuity and tenacity of the CCC boys. Without their endeavours, our state would have far less opportunity for the average household to experience a taste of the outdoors. Cleburne State Park provided us with a peaceful lunch in the day use area, a leisurely stroll beside the spillway and along the lake, and great camping options to consider for future getaways.
Entry Fees: $5 for adults, Free Children 12 and younger.