Fort Parker State Park is one of the Civilian Conservation Corps state parks in Texas, and despite its stature, still has a ton to offer in terms of hiking and visual displays.
The history of the park is seen throughout, and this is a fantastic option for fishing too. If you’re looking for a fun family-friendly state park, Fort Parker State park needs to be added to your travel list.
There’s a funny joke in the November 2021 issue of Texas Monthly that is a couple pulling up to the drive-through asking the lady handing them their food how the town of Mexia is pronounced.
How do you pronounce this place? the passenger asks. The voice in the window replies, “Dar-wee-queen”.
Driving through Mexia is similar to most small Texas towns off of the main highway. Pickup trucks adorned the busy Tex-Mex restaurants, factory-type businesses with large 18-wheelers line the highways, and of course your Dairy Queen restaurants.
While a pseudo-famous celebrity called Mexia home, the sign that greets you upon entering the town would rather celebrate its state football championship.
Off of Highway 14, you’ll turn down Park Road 28 and make your way to the small headquarter building that once homed the CCC camp infirmary.
Right off of the bat, you’ll encounter the history of what Fort Park represented when the Civilian Conservation Corps was stationed here to create parks for Texas.
According to the official TPWD site, 1500 acres were donated and used to create the state park in 1935. And from 1935 to 1942, African-American men from the CCC 3807 Camp (c) helped to create the park, and also build one of the most fascinating structures at the park that still stands today.
The Navasota river was dammed by the CCC servicemen and thus created Fort Parker Lake. The spillway is an engineering site to see, and the design is so reminiscent of the times.
You can also find a recreation hall, and travel on a handful of different roads that they built as well. Learn about the full history of this park here.
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Camping site options
|Type of site||# of sites||Cost||Best Use|
|Campsites w/ electricity||24||$20||RV, Tent|
|Electricity, tent only||1||$20||Tent|
|Campsites with water||10||$12||Tent|
|Cabins, no beds||2||$45|
Most of the camping is going to place you near the lake, and even the shelter and cabins are just above the waterfront campsites.
The quaint size of the park does place the camping sites fairly close together, but the recreation areas allow room to spread your wings.
All of the camping and recreation is along the main corridor of the park, so this place has a fun weekend getaway vibe.
Hiking Trails at Fort Parker SP
|Bur Oak Trail||.5 mi loop||Easy|
|Springfield Trail||1.8 mi.||Easy|
|Navasota River Trail||1.9 mi. one-way||Easy|
|River Loop||.9 mi.||Easy|
|Baines Creek Trail||2.5 mi. one-way||Moderate|
|Limestone Bluffs Paddling Trail||5.4 mi.||Easy|
All of the trails have Fort Parker Lake as a beacon for direction. You’ll be fairly close to the water wherever you go, and there are several points of interest to visit.
From the headquarter building you can access the Springfield Trail and learn a little history of the park and visit the Springfield cemetery. The final resting place for citizens of the town is located within the park itself.
If you want to see the amazing craftsmanship of the CCC, then make your way to the other end of the Spring Trail towards Lake Springfield, and check out the Fort Parker Dam. You’ll see it from above on the trail, but there is plenty of open space through the trees to admire the spillway.
If you make your way around the dam you’ll hop onto the Baines Creek Trail and access point of interest number eight which is another overlook.
All of the trails connect in some form, so you can really make a day of it and get in those steps. Aside from the trails on the ground, bring your kayak and float across Fort Parker Lake on the Limestone Bluffs Paddling Trail that starts on the Navasota River.
On a quiet Tuesday afternoon, the sounds you hear are birds, squirrels, and maybe the wind blowing the reeds on the grass, but this park is definitely busy during warmer months. Great place for the entire family to camp, if not, then a day trip is a perfect way to spend it at Fort Parker State Park.