Adventures at Lake Mineral Wells State Park
by Tehra Wieck 3/27/16
The family and I packed it up and headed out to Lake Mineral Wells State Park for a weekend in nature. Just west of Fort Worth, Lake Mineral Wells is a three hour drive from Austin and about an hour drive from Dallas. Having never heard of this park, we were pleasantly surprised with all the park had to offer. It’s one of four Texas state parks that have rock climbing and rappelling, along with 12 miles of trail for hiking, trail running, mountain biking and horse riding. The park also provides rentals for kayak, canoe, boats and fishing gear. On Friday night we went to a free Star Gazing event that included telescope viewings and a lesson about the stars, and on Saturday my kids attended a free Wilderness Survival class.
We first hiked the challenging Red Waterfront Trail that leads to Penitentiary Hollow, the parks Rock Climbing and Rappelling Area. The trail was super fun, lots of rocks and a few short climbs. There were a lot of people on this trail, so on a busy weekend it would be hard to keep a good trail running pace. It’s less than a mile long, but you are rewarded with a scenic overlook and all of the cliffs that make up Penitentiary Hollow.
We rented a shelter that had water and trail access. I set out for a trail run straight from our campsite and ran along the Blue Waterfront Trail. It’s only 1 ½ miles, but it was a challenging and rewarding trail that takes you along the edge of the lake. Because it was fun to run, I had no problem running this route a couple times to get in more mileage since some of the other trails were closed. The trail has a lot of rocks, but they are flat and smooth for the most part, and fixed to the ground. I ran in a standard trail shoe, without a rock plate, and my feet were fine.
I intended to run the parks Cross Timbers Trails, where you could explore 10 miles of trail, but because of the recent rain, these trails were closed. If you plan this trip around trail running and want to get in more than a few miles, make sure these trails are open. They include some moderate and easy trails, but judging from the terrain on the Red and Blue Waterfront Trail, I imagine these would be fun to run too.
Overall, I loved this park. It was a perfect weekend getaway, and I’m sure we will be back when the Cross Timbers trails are open and the boys have learned to rock climb.