Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailways is located just east of Mineral Wells, Texas. It encompasses nearly 3,300 acres, including the man-made Lake Mineral Wells. The lake was dug in the early 1920’s and used as a reservoir for local drinking water until 1963. The landscape is hilly and dissected by several deep canyons. The park also includes 20 miles of abandoned railroad beds from the Mineral Wells, Weatherford and Northwestern rail lines.
The land for the park was originally home to Native Americans of the Comanche tribe. White settlers began to arrive in the area around 1850, and the land that was to become Lake Mineral Wells State Park was originally deeded to a settler named James Alvis Lynch in 1877. He drilled a well on the property in 1880 and much to his surprise, when his rheumatic wife began drinking the water all symptoms of her disease began to fade away. Rumors of the healing mineral water quickly spread and the area soon became a popular health destination.
The property eventually fell into the hands of the City of Mineral Wells. By 1963 a better water supply was found to accommodate the ever increasing number of residents in the area, so the city donated 1,095 acres along with the 646 acre lake to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Since the adjoining property belonged to the Fort Wolters Army Post and they were scaling back, they donated the remaining acreage for the park around the same time. Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway was opened to the public in July, 1981.
Excluding public hunts the park is open year-round for camping, swimming, fishing, boating, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking. Visitors are likely to encounter many species of wildlife, most commonly white-tailed deer, turkeys, raccoons, squirrels and box turtles. Bird enthusiasts should keep their eyes peeled for 170 species of birds including red-shouldered hawks, herons, barred owls, wood ducks, Hooded Mergansers, sparrows, painted buntings, Carolina Chickadees, northern bobwhites, turkey vultures, and several species of wrens, warbles and vireo. The park has an abundance of beautiful native flora and fauna, so you’re likely to catch wildflowers in bloom throughout the year, too.
Anglers will enjoy fishing on picturesque Lake Mineral Wells. There is a permanent boat launch and several fishing piers installed for easy accessibility. The most abundant species of fish include largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, sunfish and bluegill. Only pole and line fishing is permitted, and each angler may only cast up to two lines at any given time. For channel and blue catfish, anglers must observe a daily bag limit of five fish but there is no minimum length. Maps of the lake are available at the State Park office. The lake has been stocked periodically, the last time being in 2005.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway contains several loops of campsites for visitors to choose from. Each separate area includes modern toilets and showers and several are handicap accessible. Some premium sites are available, and most sites are fitted with water and electric hookups. There are 15 screen shelters that can be rented if you do not have your own tent or RV. If you prefer primitive camping there is a separate area reserved for this purpose but it does not offer any running water or sanitary facilities.
The park does not rent out horses but does provide a special area for equestrian enthusiasts arriving with their own mounts. There is a 12 mile trail open for riding with rolling hills and beautiful native grasslands. In addition there is a 20 mile long trail along the railway bed that is well maintained. The park also provides a reserved equestrian campsite with 20 paved, pull-through camping sites suitable for horse trailers. There are tethering poles for the horses along with running water, picnic facilities, fire rings, and a modern toilet facility with showers.
The park has an on-site store for the convenience of their guests. Groceries, deli items, firewood, and ice are available, along with souvenirs such as t-shirts. They also keep a variety of fishing and camping supplies in stock including several popular types of bait.
For more information about Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway visit their official website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lake_mineral_wells.