Lake Mineral Wells State Park
It was the last day of our stay at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and I thought, while doing a little top-water fishing, I would take a little time to recap the events of our awesome trip.
"Strike?!" Nope, that was just my lure dragging through some underwater weeds... It is a warm and humid, sunny morning in north Texas and I am fishing in a private little cove at our campsite. The edge of the bank is muddy, but there is a dry 2-foot square rock on the the shoreline - I know if I cast from this spot, there are no nearby branches or brush to hook into. Since dawn, I have tried several top-water rigs, plugs, spinners, etc., but so far no luck...
We arrived at the ranger station, at Lake Mineral Wells State Park, on Tuesday around noon and secured shady campsite #30 next to the lake. To get to our site, we drove on a road that crossed below the spillway of the lake's leaky dam.
At our campsite, we unhitched our RV and drove into the city of Mineral Wells to eat lunch at the Mesquite Pit restaurant. Their chicken-fried-steak was as good as I've ever had. After the delicious meal, we got gas and groceries, and drove back to our campsite on the lake. By late afternoon, we finished setting up camp by stretching some pumpkin colored camp-lights over our picnic table.
On Wednesday, we woke early and drove about a mile to the Cross Timbers camping area to begin hiking the Cross Timbers Back Country Trail (fancy name for a 2.32 mi. hike in the country). The CTBCT (equestrian, hike and bike trail) connects to the Cross Timbers Green Trail (1.06 mi.) - we decided to include that trail in our morning nature walk to add in some more mileage.
By 11:30am, when we returned to the trail-head, it was too hot to hike any further. Before returning to our campsite, we explored the park and planned the next day's adventure.
We got back to camp and headed for the showers. We made bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches for lunch and spent the afternoon relaxing at our tree-covered lake-front campsite. That was when I broke out my gear and started my first day of fishing at Lake Mineral Wells.
After about 30 minutes of fishing, I switched my bait from a top water rig to a watermelon colored plastic worm and, on the second cast, got hung up in some weeds. While jerking my fishing pole (like a fool) to free my line, it snapped in half. Top water fishing was over, but I brought my fly rod along, so I switched to fly fishing for the rest of the afternoon.
Thursday morning, the temperature at dawn was noticeably cooler and dryer. It was the perfect start to a splendid day! After breakfast, we drove a couple of miles to the Penitentiary Hollow Overlook area to hike the Red Waterfront Trail. The hike began with a slow descent down steps built from local area rocks and rough cedar hand railing. The hollow was surrounded by steep rock walls that were rigged with rock climbing anchors, so that climbers and rappellers can use them to sharpen their mountaineering skills. The hollow itself is also a unique habitat for wildlife and nature.
While exploring the hollow and admiring the cliffs, we briefly ran across the only other campers we saw in two days of hiking Lake Mineral Wells. "Beautiful day!" one hiker hollered. "It sure is!" I replied. "Have a great hike!" one of them said. "You too!" I replied. With that, they were gone and we had the place to ourselves again. When you visit parks during the week, you have the best chance of solitude on the trails.
From the hollow's floor, we navigated along a rocky trail between two large rock formations and landed onto the Waterfront Trail. We hiked the speed of snails (because we could) down the .7 mile Red Waterfront Trail to take in as much wildlife and beauty as the trail had to offer, which was quite amazing.
We capped off the morning's hike with a short stroll down the Trailway Spur to the Lake Mineral Wells State Park Amphitheater. The smell of fresh-cut grass filled the air. The grounds had recently been groomed for the weekend's events, Name that Bird and Star Gazing.
We got back to camp around 11am, showered, and drove back to Mineral Wells to have another lunch at the Mesquite Pit, where we enjoyed a couple of 1/2 lb. Smokehouse Cheddar Burgers.
While we were in town, I found a tackle shop and bought a replacement rod for my spinning real. It wasn't exactly the same as the original, but was a nice fit. When we got back to camp, I quickly tore off the price tag, attached the old real to the new rod, and was top water fishing once again.
Well, it is our last day at Lake Mineral Wells state park, and it is now late morning and I have been fishing since sunrise without getting a single bite. Perhaps there aren't any fish in our private little cove, or maybe the fish just aren't interested in the bait I am presenting, or maybe they are feeding on the bottom, or maybe... Anyway, it doesn't matter, it is time to put away the fishing rod and start preparing our vehicles for the next leg of our road trip. There will certainly be future trips to Lake Mineral Wells State Park, where I will continue my quest for that trophy bass!
After completing our checklist of tasks to perform and items to stow, before getting out onto the road, I took one last look at the glassy waters of the tiny lagoon I had been fishing in for the past few days. Suddenly, an enormous bass broke the surface of the water, as if to say, "You didn't get me this time, sucker!"
Lake Mineral Wells Trailway
One thing that we regrettably did not do at Lake Mineral Wells State Park (because we didn't have time) was hike or bike the Lake Mineral Wells Trailway. The trail stretches about 20 miles between the cities of Mineral Wells and Weatherford, with stops along the way to Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Garner, Texas. On our next trip, we will make the time to bike (or hike) this historic trail and take in everything it has to offer.