Lake Brownwood State Park
Lake Brownwood State Park, located approximately 15 miles from Brownwood (and the nearest decent selection of wine), was the first park (of four) we planned to visit on our week-long Texas State Park vacation in late September, 2016. Lake Brownwood is number 45 on our list of Texas State Parks we have visited over the years.
We arrived at the park's headquarters at noon on Friday, which would normally be an early arrive-time for getting the perfect campsite, but we were surprised to discover that the Council Bluff camping area was full, and there were only two campsites left in the Willow Point camping area.
"The park is full because this is the YMCA Indian Princess weekend," the park ranger said. "Every year fathers bond with their daughters on a two-night camping trip."
The Indian Princesses hadn't checked in yet, so we had the park to ourselves until they arrived. We picked the campsite closest to the lake and spent the afternoon relaxing in the shade of a large Live Oak tree down by the water's edge.
While gazing out at the vast lake, we saw many different kinds of watercraft: ski boats, bass boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, and a variety of kayaks. No doubt they (like us) were all taking advantage of the last few warm weekends of the summer. The grassy shore of the picnic area is a great place for launching a kayak.
Around 4pm, campers began flowing into the campground and started setting up their tents. A couple of hours later, an unexpected thunderstorm changed outdoor evening plans for all of the campers in the park. It rained into the early morning hours, shutting down any possibility of a late night campfire, so we crashed early.
We woke Saturday morning to the endless song of a mockingbird perched in a tree nearby. I opened the door to our RV and looked outside - the night-long rain had left Lake Brownwood State Park and the skies were sunny and blue!
After some coffee and breakfast, we decided to hike the Texas Oak Trail and the Possum Loop Trail. To get there, we hiked past a sea of YMCA tents, through the Willow Point camping area, towards the fishing pier. The smell of recently cleaned fish emanated from the cleaning station. It's nice to know that someone is catching fish, I thought, I'll get my fishing gear ready for action when we get back to our campsite.
The entrance to the Texas Oak Trail is only a few yards from the fishing pier. The trail is only 1.35 miles long, so we decided to take our time and soak in as much nature as the trail had to offer, which was quite impressive.
The wooded trail roughly follows the lake shore, and near the end, connects to the .29 mile Possum Loop trail. The trails are home to many birds, squirrels, rabbits, garden spiders, and butterflies. I'm sure there were many other critters living in the surrounding trees and brush, but they were keeping their distance and staying out of site.
It took us several hours to hike the short trails - we walked about 30 steps, then stopped, then looked all around us so that we wouldn't miss a thing, then repeated this process until we came to the end.
There is another trail at Lake Brownwood State Park called Nopales Ridge Trail that is 2.89 miles long, but it was getting late in the day and we were ready for rest. We will certainly add it to the itenerary of our next trip to Lake Brownwood State Park.
After a day on the trails, we drug our tired bodies back to our campsite. The Indian Princesses were everywhere. They were running around, riding their bikes, and having fun while their fathers prepared a big evening celebration around a central bonfire.
After dinner, we built our own small fire at our campsite, ate s'mores, and sat outside until there was no more light left in the clear sky. It was a perfect night for star-gazing - no moon. I'm sure the YMCA group will never forget this fine September evening.
I woke up at 4am the next morning, remembering the fish cleaning station, and decided to try to get in a little fishing of my own, before we packed up and headed to our next destination, Possum Kingdom State Park. I tried several artificial lures and worms, but didn't get a single bite. I didn't catch any fish that day, but if I hadn't woken early, I would have missed the magnificent sunrise!
For detailed information about Lake Brownwood State Park, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.