Breckenridge Texan

Palo Pinto Mountains State Park slated for ‘soft open’ by end of the year

Palo Pinto Mountains State Park slated for ‘soft open’ by end of the year
March 23
16:53 2023

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

The new Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, which is located in southeastern Stephens County and southwestern Palo Pinto County, will be open to the public later this year, with an official grand opening scheduled for early 2024, according to James Miller, assistant superintendent of the park.

Miller spoke at Tuesday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Breckenridge, giving the members an update on the park, which will be the first new state park in North Texas in 25 years. He said the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is planning a “soft open” by the end of the year and will have a more formal opening next year.

Map of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park

Plans for the park have been in the works since 2010, when the State of Texas sold some acreage at Eagle Mountain State Park northwest of Fort Worth, with the stipulation that the money be used for a new state park, Miller said. In 2011, the State purchased 3,300 acres of land from the Copeland family and others. With some additions in the ensuing years, the park now comprises 4,871 acres. The area for the park has Palo Pinto Creek running along its northern border and Tucker Lake at its center.

After purchasing the land, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department conducted an in-depth evaluation of the area, making note of endangered animals and plants, culturally significant places, etc., as well as started planning the layout of the park and its potential buildings, trails, and more.

In 2021, construction began. “Today, they’ve got about 90 percent of the utilities installed, that’s water, wastewater, electrical. And they’re currently working on roadways; they’re getting those subgraded and then we’ll start the pavement process,” Miller said. Also, crews are currently working on a boat ramp and fishing pier. Canoes, kayaks and boats with small electric motors (trolling motors) will be allowed on the lake, but gasoline motors will not be allowed.

“We’ll have about 60 campsites, total,” Miller explained. “Twenty-five of those will be water and electric sites, kind of traditional RV sites. Those will be up on the west ridge, overlooking Tucker Lake, a small — about 90-acre — lake in the very center of the park. We’ll have another 12 that’ll be walk-in camping. So, there will be a parking area, and it’ll be no more than a 100-yard walk to your campsite. There will be restrooms and water available in the area. We’ll have another about dozen primitive sites, that’ll be backpack in; you know, take everything with you, bring everything out. There will be a composting toilet but no water, no electricity (at the backpack-in sites).

“Then, we’ll have 10 dedicated equestrian sites,” he said. “So, they’ll be water and electric sites, as well, but they’ll have an asphalt parking pad. And they’ll have a dedicated couple of pens attached to the side, so you can unload your horse and keep it there overnight, and then get up and hit the trail in the morning.”

The park will have about 12 miles of trails, most of which will be multi-use trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. One section will have about three-quarters of a mile designated as ADA accessible, he  said.

A pavilion will be available to rent for events, and the park will also include a large headquarters building with an interpretive area offering information about the history of the land, the plants and animals in the area, etc., as well as a retail space, Miller said.

The park’s entrance will be located on the east side of the lake, off of FM 2372, accessible through Strawn.

Sunrise over Tucker Lake in Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. (Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

Cutline, top photo: James Miller, assistant superintendent for Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, was the guest speaker at the Breckenridge Rotary Club’s meeting earlier this week. He described the park’s progress and said they plan to open later this year. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)




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