If you’re looking for a state park near the water with plenty to see and do then check out Lake Somerville State Park. One thing that wasn’t obvious looking at the map was just how big this state park is, and how much land it covers. You have to take a small road trip just to get to the other state park.
Wait, other state park?
Lake Somerville is broken into two main park areas, Nails Creek and Birch Creek, but within that are six different management areas that the Texas Parks & WIldlife maintains as well. In this post you’ll learn about the main two areas, hiking/camping, and the railway system that usually connects the two areas.
Nails Creek State Park
On highway 290 between Austin and Houston, you may notice a sign that alerts you to exit for Nails Creek State Park, but if you look at the list of state parks that one is not on it. It’s a little confusing, but because the complex to Lake Somerville is so vast, they broke the different sections down. And once you’ve visited them it does work because each area does feel different than the next.
Of the two main areas, Nails Creek feels best suited for spending time on the water, so a lot of the features that you’ll find here are centered around fishing and water recreation. Check out this post for other state parks to swim.
Camping at Nails Creek SP
There are two main pedestrian camping areas and one equestrian camping area. In the equestrian camping area, you have room for your tent set up, but you always have a pen for your horse to camp in as well. This was the first time seeing something like this and it was pretty neat.
Cedar Creek Camping area is a water & electric site that also features a small fishing pond for the kiddos and accessible restrooms with a shower. Sites 44-52 have great access to the water, but a lot of the sites are relatively close to the lake.
Bent Tree Camping area is better suited for RVs, and then of course the sites for the horses.
If interested in making a reservation, you can find more information here: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lake-somerville/fees-facilities/campsites
There are two primitive camping areas relatively close to the Nails Creek Unit: Mills Pond and Flag Pond primitive sites. Because at the time of this visit the main trailway connector was closed, check ahead to ensure you’re able to access those camping areas.
They’re both by the water, so should be a fun time.
Hiking at Nails Creek Unit
There is an extensive list of trails that encompass all units of this state park, so decide what you’re in the mood for and just start hiking.
In Nails Creek, there is only one trail listed on the map, Cedar Creek Loop, but there are a handful of different places you can venture to including the Rocky Point Trail (0.2 mi), Overlook Trail (0.7 mi), Colvin Hill Bypass (0.6 mi.), Nails Creek Loop (0.7 mi. ), and the Lakeshore Trail (0.7 mi.).
Plenty of options to stack some miles and have some great views of the water. Points of interest #6, #7, and #8 are in this area and those locations are for scenic views, picnicking, and great fishing.
Lake Somerville Birch Creek Unit
The Birch creek unit felt like a small state park. The visitor center is tucked away down the curved road. The trees surrounding the building, and the overall feel of this section felt better suited for spending some time camping in the wooded areas near water.
It was amazing to be in the general same region, but feel like you’re in a completely different state park.
While fishing and other water recreation are still a draw, the campsites are a little more extensive. Here you’ll find the Old Hickory Camping Area, Group Trailer Sites, Post Oak Camping Area, and the Yaupon Camping Area.
There are extensive trails here as well that loop and connect through the campsites, so it’s perfect to just get out of your tent or RV and venture around the park.
One recommendation would be to just start at the visitor’s center and walk to the water. You can access the Sunset Trail (0.9 mi.) and Wilderness Run (1.3) to enjoy some lovely views of the lake.
If you’re into birding, then definitely head towards the Yaupon Camping area and hop onto the Eagle Point Trail (0.1 mi.). As the name implies this is a popular destination to try and spot some Bald Eagles as they spend their time nesting in this part of Texas and the park.
Then there’s the rest…
This barely scratches the surface of what this region includes. The park system is also made up of additional recreational areas that are used for land management and are suitable for hunting. The rest of the Lake Somerville Trailway includes a handful of different trails that can be accessed from CR 140 in the western part of the park.
The Newman Bottom Access Road is a mile long dirt road that will take you sections of the trailway that you can definitely explore. It looked like a fantastic spot to grab your bike and venture out.
There is one point of interest in this area, #4 Newman Pad, and it’s a reminder of the petroleum extraction that used to take place in this park that ended around the 1980s.
Have you been to this state park? Share your experience in the comment section below.