Lake Mineral Wells State Park Recap
The Western Cross Timbers.
According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife, ‘Where Native Americans, legendary cattlemen, and health seekers all found sustenance.” For me, it was a recommendation by Chet Garner, otherwise known as The Daytripper. I was in the Fort Worth area for work and was looking for a place to hike. Little did I know that my experience here would be one of my funnest hikes visually.
The state park is well known for rock climbers, but there’s Lake Mineral Wells for water activities, and it has a pretty great trail system too.
I was there on my way out of town, so I didn’t get to inspect the campsites, but I did pop into the park store which had plenty of snacks, random souvenirs, and plenty of fishing gear including bait. This was actually the first time I realized that not all park gift shops were at the same place as the headquarters. Now I know…
- Because of the terrain- super-sturdy shoes. Something with a thick sole. One of the few times I’d say boots would work well here if you have sensitive ankles.
- Plenty of water
- Bird book
- If you climb, then rock climbing gear!
It was suggested that I do the ‘Red Waterfront Trail’, and so that’s just what I did. The park map says it is .7 miles and challenging. And this terrain was definitely really rough at times.
There were parts where I had to kinda leap over gaps in between rocks, but you’re walking pretty close to the water most of the way, so it was worth the amazing views. Your final destination is also Penitentiary Hollow, so more on that in a bit.
Something about the geographic landscape of Texas, but expect to see a lot of rock formations coming up from the ground that are climb-able. I spent a lot of time on the trail just playing on some of the higher rocks to see which I could get up on without worry of falling to my demise.
There are three points of interest on this trail: It starts with Post Oaks, The Four Cedar Elms (which I looked for, but couldn’t quite figure out which they were. There are plenty of elm trees here is why) and finally the Penitentiary Hollow Overlook.
This was definitely the gem, and definitely why it’s such a haven for rock climbers learning, or veteran.
When you get there you’re almost walking into this enormous cavern. It just has these huge rock walls you walk into, and just a note; there are a handful of ways in and out of here, but its overall square footage isn’t that big, so go explore but don’t feel you’re going to get turned in a completely wrong direction and get lost.
The reason I know that is when I was there I did start to panic a little bit because I couldn’t get a gauge on my whereabouts. Everything started to look very similar when I went exploring down a side path. There was another group doing a small tour and the guide let me know that I could really just crawl through anywhere and it would lead me back to the center of the rock formation. So that was definitely helpful at the time.
The overlook trail itself was a little tricky to find having never been here before, but once you find the staircase the views are worth it. There you’ll also start to notice the metal loops that people use for ropes that you don’t initially notice on the ground.
Overall there are nine trails at this park with the Cross Timbers Black Trail being the longest at 2.32 miles and the Trailway Spur being the shortest at .61 miles.
There are five campsites including one primitive camping area. Post Oak, Live Oak, Cross Timbers, and Plateau camping areas are tent/ RV. The Primitive camping area is accessible by the Primitive camping trail which is 1.95 miles long. So…. Be prepared for that.
If you’re just using a tent the Post Oak area is your top bet, otherwise, the other sites are water/electric sites that may be more suitable for an RV.
Overall Lake Mineral Wells State Park is definitely worth stopping into, even if it’s just for the day to splash around. Check ahead on water conditions as sometimes the summer heat does weird things to freshwater.
Also, check out this link for fun information about Mineral Wells and its magic water!