Mineral Wells State Park is centered around a small lake and an extensive series of camp grounds. There is hike-in primitive camping, as well as RV and drive-up primitive sites, as well as a cliff popular with rock climbers. The 20-mile long Mineral Wells Trailway abuts the park.
There are relatively few places within an hour’s drive of the DFW metroplex that offer camping, backpacking, rock climbing, horse trails and a long, flat trail for bicycling or hiking, all with one entry fee.
What Makes It Great
Mineral Wells State Park offers a relatively modest trail system packed into the northern end of the park. On the positive side, the trails are all well away from the main camping and fishing areas, and better still, well hidden from major roadways. While hardly “wilderness”, it is possible to find real peace and quiet on the trails here. The trails themselves wind through low post oak and juniper forests along low hills to the north of the lake. The soil here is thin, and the trails are a mix of sand, limestone pebbles and clay that is either dusty in summer or alarmingly slick when wet. The low forest means shade will be in short supply. The trail heads have potable water, flush toilets and even hot water showers(!) (although soap is scarce). There is a walk-in primitive camping area a modest 2 mile hike in from the road. Be sure to pack in all the water you’ll need as the surface streams are undependable in dry weather.
Be aware that many of the trails are marked for multiple uses – hiking, equestrian and mountain biking. Some trails are single use (which, for the hikers, reduces the unpleasantness of hiking through piles of horse dung). The trails are mostly flat, aside from a traverse of a small valley at the back end of the “Cross Timbers” trail. The trails also include several water crossings which may be hazardous, depending on recent rain fall. Truth be told, however, they make a pleasant change from the near-excessive coddling on other DFW-area trails.
The Mineral Wells Trailway has a separate entrance in the park, via a short, steep spur trail. The trail head is shared with a small walk-in amphitheater. Don’t be fooled by the paved trail head. The trail is abundantly well-graveled, but the paving runs out after a few hundred yards. After a few short, sharp switchbacks down the hillside, the spur trail meets up with the Mineral Wells Trailway. The Trailway (http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lake-mineral-wells/trailway-1)is 20 miles of rails-to-trails from end to end. Much of it passes near roads and farms, but the countryside is quiet and the going is pleasant and not too strenuous (aside from the near total lack of shade). If you’re planning on riding the trail, be aware that much of the surface is fine gravel with occasional washouts – too rough for road bikes, in other words, but perfect for cross bikes.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers looking for some genuine quiet, or multi-sport enthusiasts looking for a weekend-long camping trip will love Mineral Wells State Park.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Seasonality: Open 6 AM - 10 PM year round. Busy season: May-November. Call well ahead to make reservations if you plan to camp on a weekend.
Call ahead (940) 328-1171 to check trail conditions. During the record rainfall of May 2015, nearly all the trails were closed and the walk-in camp sites and rock climbing area were closed entirely. No mention was made on the website.
Fees/Permits: $7 per adult for day use. Children 12 and under free. $70/year State Parks Pass allows free day use.
Camping: $10/night for walk-in camping, $14 for primitive drive-up, $26 for full water & electric hookup.
The park is 45 miles from Dallas, located at 100 Park Road 71, Mineral Wells, TX, 76067.