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 was number 45 on our list of visited Texas State Parks.
We arrived at the park's headquarters at noon on Friday, which would typically be an early arrival time for selecting the perfect site, but discovered that the park was almost at capacity - the campsites in the Council Bluff camping area were all reserved, and only two available 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 the troops 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 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 4 pm, 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 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 with clear blue skies.
After some coffee and breakfast, we decided to hike the Texas Oak Trail and the Possum Loop Trail. On the way to the trailhead, we strolled through the Willow Point camping area, past a sea of YMCA tents, to 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, just in case.
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 take in as much nature as the short Texas Oak Trail had to share with us, which was quite impressive.
The wooded trail roughly follows the lake's shore and, near the end, connects to the .29-mile Possum Loop trail. The two trails are home to many birds, squirrels, rabbits, garden spiders, and butterflies. No doubt there were many other species of critters in the surrounding trees and bushes, but they kept their distance and stayed out of sight.
It took us several hours to hike the short trails - we walked about 30 steps, stopped, then looked all around us so that we wouldn't miss a thing, then repeated this process until the trail's 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 too tired for another hike. We will certainly add it to the itinerary 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 a small fire at our campsite, ate s'mores, and sat by the fire until the last ember burned. 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 4 am, remembering the fish cleaning station, and decided to fish for a while before we packed up and headed to our next destination, Possum Kingdom State Park. I tried several artificial lures and worms but no luck. 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.