So we took out our new travel trailer out for its first quick trip. We made this one a short trip, and it was nice but here are a few things to know about the park. They don’t have a camp store for any of the odds and ends that you might have forgotten, so make sure you double check your lists before you leave home. They’ve got a firewood locker, but it’s by the headquarters at the front of the park. The site we stayed in (108 in loop H) would’ve been a lot better if you had a bunch of people you know camping together. It kind of circled around this communal feeling opening in the loop. We were able to fit our 32’ trailer with my f150 super crew next it to, kinda tightly. The weather was cool with the wind coming off the lake, so we broke out the solo stove!
Wow…..just wow. We went on another day hike around and while some people think this is “just a bunch of rocks” I can’t think of a place that was more breath taking. Do yourself and favor and go take a loop around the park. If you want to and have the gear, there’s places were you can climb some and it’s amazing to see people climbing these rocks. This is a place we’re you can walk/hike no matter your skill level.
As a family from Texas, we don’t get a lot of snow in our neck of the woods, so this was a real treat. We hit up the Peak View day use trail head and had an absolute blast. The snow was perfect, the hill was fast and the views were amazing!!! Kinda wish we had made the trip to camp up here instead of just a day trip!! There’s also less oxygen at 9000’ than there is in Denton, Texas. Haha
I went with a buddy and we stayed in site 16 in the primitive walk-in site. It was a gorgeous site right on the Colorado river. The thing I didn't realize was that in the primitive walk-in site you are in a field, with not really any privacy from any other campers. If you are thinking that you will have some foliage separation between sites, you won't. The other thing that other Texas state parks have that Colorado Bend didn't have was showers and a plumbed bathroom. They have 1 open air shower but it is closed during the winter season. The bathroom's are simple outhouses with composing bins. The shop also doesn't take credit cards, and they don't have the firewood vending machines you can access after hours, so if you come one after the shop closes, you will need to bring your own firewood. We did the Spicewood Canyon trail that has some amazing views from the top of the ridge. We hit the last mile of the Lemon Ridge trail that then dumped us on the the river trail that created a nice 6.5 mile loop. It was a good hike that they have listed as "Challenging" but hasn't bad at all. The north end of the site has the Waterfalls and from what we were told from some people at a neighboring site, that is were a lot of the day use hikers were. Overall it was a great camping trip in a gorgeous part of Texas, there were just a few things I wish I had known going into the trip.
My wife, kids, dogs and I went out to Inks Lake and we stayed in site 345, in the tent only sites. It was a great sire that backed right up on the lake. We had a natural split level site with a clearing towards the lake that allowed us a great spot for me to set up our Bonfire Solo Stove. There was enough room to set up our Kingdom 6 REI tent, which is a 2 room 6 man tent, along with 2 hammock. We were on a small loop that allowed our kids (8 and 6) to have some room to roam, and we were just a 50 yard walk from the fishing dock and one of Texas State Parks newly renovated bathrooms. I would recommend this site and park to anyone. We were bummed we were able to to down the street to Lonnghorn Cavern, because some bad weather came in and we had too leave early.
We stayed in the Deep Ford loop, site 1. The site is really nice and sits right on the river. The downsides of the site are, sites 1, 2 and 3 are maybe 50 yards from HWY 2 and you get a good amount of traffic up until 9:00, and overnight you’ll still get a few cars and trucks driving by. The second thing was a little bit of bummer is that there’s not a lot of trees because power lines run right now the sites. These sites are also really rocky and sandy so it make for a bit of a chore to find a descent tent pad. The last thing that wasn’t great was the only water for the three sites was 2 sites over and if I hadn’t brought my Katadyn 3 liter filter it would’ve been awkward having to cut through 2 other people’s sites to get water. The site itself is very pretty and has a great fire pit (even though we bring our Solo Stove Bon Fire with us). The nice part of not having a lot of trees are you can see the stars so easily over the site.
The park itself is awesome and the caves are an easy hike for kids, and dogs. The loop is less than a mile but there’s tons of rocks and little caves for the kids to climb on and in. There’s tons of playgrounds that the kids can play on and a pretty nice day use area.
I mean, a bad day camping is still better than a good day at work. We stayed in the Walnut camping circle and got site 62. The site was actually pretty nice. It had the most trees over the sites around us, to give us a “in the woods” feel. One thing wasn’t great about the site was the the fire ring is pretty close to the street, and sits in front of the parking bump (this was an rv site). We brought our Bonfire Solo Stove, so we were able to have a fire pit further off the road for a little privacy. Another thing that wasn’t my favorite was a paved walkway came right past the back of our site. People couldn’t really see us, but we could hear them as the walked/talked/yelled down the walkway. The last “con” I have to say it that on the Johnson Branch I didn’t see a store on the map. We didn’t need to buy anything, but other places we’ve been have stores and that’s where we’ve gotten the 411 on good hiking and places to see on the grounds. One of the nice thing was the tree coverage, like I said. We had a lot of trees so we could but up some lights and a slack line for the kids to play on. The tent pad was big enough for a 6 man tent and a four man tent, with room to spare, which was nice. The other nice thing from our site, was that we were about 1/4 mile from a little playground for the kids. The playground wasn’t anything grand, but it broke up the days for the kids some, which as all parents know is a gift.
I went with a couple buddies this past weekend (1/18-1/20) and had an absolute blast. We stayed in the south prong tent campsite (primitive but not hike in). Saturday we hiked the South Prong trailhead and cut across the Haynes Ridge cutout, and it was amazing. It’s a 7 mile loop with an elevation of around 3000 feet. It’s a good 3.5-4.5 hour hike, but the views are amazing. The other fun thing we saw were bison. They roam at this park so they warn you to give way. We only saw one, but it was incredible.
My wife and kids went camping here with some friends and we had a blast. We stayed in the RV/car camping area and the only thing that I would say remotely critical, is that the sites are right on top of each other. That being said, we went on an awesome 3 to 4 mile hike with the four kids that ranged from 4 to 8. The views were awesome and a blast. They’ve got a handful of activities for kids, like painting with a Ranger, or a guided hike. I wish I could give a 4.75 rating cause the only negative was the right sites.
My wife and kids just spent the past 3 days at Inks Lake and really enjoyed our time there. We took our 6 and 4 year old’s hiking on some of the trails they offer, and had a blast. They offered a daypack filled with pencils and sketch pads and activity books for my kids and added another fun thing to do on our hike. The employees at the general store are incredibly nice and happy to help out. We look forward to going back and trying out the more primitive camp sites they offer.