To start this post let’s do a little lesson in pronunciation. Mexia is not Mex E ah, it is pronounced Ma-HEE-ah.
Fort Parker is yet another CCC built park in Texas. This one was built by the all African-American-Company 3807 (C), from 1935-1942 after the city of Mexia and two local property owners ceded land to the state for the park.
Although a nice clean park the main area is mostly a lake. There are about 4 miles of trails in the main park and the Baines Creek Trail, which turned out to be the best is located across the dam at a separate entrance near the state historic site. I also had an exciting sight along the Baines Creek Trail.
Fort Parker State Park is adjacent to the Parker’s Fort State Historical Site.
Although I haven’t been yet, the State Historic Site is important in Texas history. I want to go but momma likes those sorts of trips, so I want to take her with me.
Long story short, Parker’s Fort was the scene of the kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker who lived among the Comanche for years and refused to return to the white way of life. She was the mother of the famous Comanche chief Quanah Parker. More about that when I get to go to the Historic Site.
Fort Parker Dam is a 423 foot dam across the Navasota River.
Also within the park is the old Springfield Cemetery.
Springfield, Texas, now considered a ghost town, was formed in 1838 when twelve families settled in the area. It became the first county seat of Limestone County by 1847. The settlers were attracted to the area by the fertile soils and an abundance of springs for fresh water.
Springfield grew to 120 people by the Civil war but as the men left to fight many of the five stores of the town closed. In the 1870’s the town refused the offered price for a railroad right of way so the railroad ran through nearby Grosebeck and Mexia. But Springfield still had the courthouse! That ended with a fire in 1873 that destroyed the Limestone County Courthouse. When a new courthouse was built is was built in Groesbeck which became the new county seat. Today nothing is left of Springfield except the cemetery, and a couple of the many springs that brought people here.
after passing the cemetery the Springfield loop took me to the dam. What was notable along this stretch of trail was the hunting and digging activity of the feral hogs and armadillos.
This is the uniqueness of Fort Parker Dam. I have been to many dams, but I have never seen a spillway that actually channeled the water around the dam as this one did.
The Springfield Trail led me past Springfield Lake and across the Burr Oak Slough to the Navasota River Trail.
The lake is known as a Blue Heron Rookery and although I didn’t seen any of the birds, I passed through their roosting area and it was disgusting. The scent of their urine was so overpowering that it almost made your eyes water. I was able to bypass the area on the back part of this out and back hike by using the road and re-entering the trail at the primitive camping area.
After my trip through the god awful smelling roosting area the trail hugs the banks of the Navasota River. This trail was nice but too close to the road for my liking.
I then found the other park entrance on a nearby county road. The Baines Creek Trail is the longest in the park. It travels 2.5 miles out to an overlook.
The trail starts by skirting Polecat Slough.
It then undulates between small hills and comes to it’s high point at the overlook.
On my way back in on this out and back I got to see my first Armadillo except the dead one Quincy brought me on the Spicewood Valley Trail! I have seen others since, and they don’t seem to be very afraid of people. He just went about his business of turning small logs looking for bugs.
Not a bad place except the road and the trail being so close together. Can’t wait to come back to the Historic Site!