Lake Brownwood State Park is a place that has recently become my ‘home’ state park. After my family and I bought lake property this past summer, I have visited the park numerous times. Each trip has offered an enjoyable day with new things to explore.
I’ll admit, I did not have high expectations of the area, but that was because I knew so little about it. I expected flat, monotonous, and well, to be honest, ‘brown’ views. I got none of that. There was so much greenery, beautiful views, and a lot of wildlife! I was very impressed with the trail system at the park. Each trail was short enough for a good stretch of the legs or could be combined for a good day of hiking!
I combined the Texas Oak trail (approximately 1.4 miles), Opossum Loop trail (0.3 miles), and the Council Bluff trail (0.3 miles) for my first afternoon at the park. The trails intersect at various points, allowing you to make the hike as long or as short as you prefer. This is very beneficial for little ones or those who may be lacing up their hiking boots for the first time in years! The trail is gorgeous and has areas of very interesting rock formations along the way. I wish I knew more about geology, but perhaps I’ll learn more through my adventures. There are some areas along the Texas Oak trail where big boulders overlook the lake. Makes a great spot to stop and take in the views and fresh air or perhaps grab a snack. I am an avid birder and I found this area of the park to be filled with birds. I was constantly stopping to quickly pull up my binoculars, trying to identify every bird I saw. The Texas Oak and Council Bluff trails do have some steeper areas and parts with big steps that tiny legs may need an extra boost on (looking at you mom!). There are areas of lots of shade but also sections where the Texas sun may beat down on you, so bring plenty of water and proper clothing. Overall, I really enjoyed my day exploring in that section of the park and will absolutely be back on those trails.
On the other side of the park you will find the Lakeside Trail (0.7 miles). This trail was a fun one and very much different than the other trails. The trail follows the ridge above the lake, which makes for plenty of great places to stop and take in the scenery. I highly recommend taking this trail with a picnic in tow as throughout the trail there are CCC built limestone benches and tables that have amazing views of the lake. Life is too short to rush through, so take some time to sit and have a good conversation with loved ones or take some quiet time for yourself and breath the fresh air! Keep your eyes peeled for some extra exploring on this trail. There are several hidden spots with stone steps that lead down to the lake, making yet another great place to rest or throw out a line. Like the others, this trail does have some steeper parts with big steps (looking at you again mom!), so keep in mind others may need help in those areas. The region of the trail by the day use area is more shaded but as you get closer to the cabins, it starts to open up. This is an out and back trail so you’ll need to either turn around and take the trail back to your car or walk along the road if you want something different.
Finally, the Nopales Ridge Trail (2.9 miles) is the biking trail at the park, but I have also hiked it. I would consider myself a moderate mountain biker. I am for certain no expert and will fall over the tiniest of rocks and creeks. I hiked the trail for the first time just to get an idea of it. The trail twists and turns through grassy areas and eventually goes up to higher elevation. I found that biking this trail was more challenging than I expected. While walking it, I felt like it was relatively flat, but upon mounting my bike, I quickly found that was not true. It has a very gradual elevation gain to it and two places where the elevation changes quite dramatically with a rocky, steep slope. Use caution in these areas especially and it goes without saying to always wear a helmet. I enjoyed riding this trail. It is short but sweet and gave me the solid 30 minutes of exercise I was looking for. Keep your eyes peeled for feral hogs! I saw a group of them running through the grass down below me! This trail does not provide much shade from the relentless Texas sun, so I recommend hiking or biking it on cooler days.
I have been to Brownwood State Park several times over the past 6 months and I will continue to go back to spend time on the trails. I also plan on doing some fishing there and even some swimming when the weather warms up (I’m talking scorching August temps or I’ll get super cold). So far, this place seems like a great state park and has something for everyone. They have campsites for the true fans, screened shelters for a little more comfort, and even cabins for those who like to live on the less rustic side of the world (third time I am looking at you mom 😊!!). Also, I must mention, it is puppy dog approved.