Last October, we took our first trip to Lake Somerville State Park. There is something very freeing about visiting a park for the first time. Not knowing what to expect, we were in full acceptance of what awaited us. Letting go of the push to arrive early on Friday to claim the best camping site made the transition from a week of doing to a weekend of being much easier.
Letting go is a lesson that keeps resurfacing on our camping trips. On the rare occasions when I can manage an attitude of acceptance, I am more open and in the moment. I am happier. I think this, more so than the amount of time I have, is key to experiencing the renewal I seek when I head outdoors. Of course, given the choice, I will always prefer a lengthy camping trip, no matter what state of mind I am in at the time.
We arrived after dark and the office was already closed, but a note on the door listed the available campsites. There were only a few remaining sites and they were all in the Post Oak Camping Area. We wrote them down, grabbed a map, and went to see what was left. We felt fortunate to find site 51 was spacious and naturally secluded, so we called it home for the next two nights.
After breakfast the next day, we gathered our packs and ventured down to the picnic area to claim a spot by the lake. We planned to spend the majority of the day watching wildlife, playing games, and hiking around. It was rather windy that day, but otherwise, the weather was perfect.
After a morning of watching Great Egrets and American Coots and playing games, we ate lunch and spread a blanket out by the water to rest. Later that afternoon, we hiked the loop trail to and around the Yaupon Camping Area. The majority of the trail follows the shoreline, offering beautiful views.
If Lake Somerville aims to please, this park is an overachiever. Whatever your reason for heading outdoors, this park will not disappoint. The lake provides the traditional boating scene, but if you prefer quiet river paddling, Yegua Creek offers a 5 mile paddling trip perfect for viewing wildlife. If you own your own horse, there is an equestrian camping area complete with nearby riding trails. There are over 22 miles of trail in both Birch Creek and neighboring Nails Creek Units. Both units are connected by 13 miles of trail that runs through undeveloped land on the west end of the lake offering hiking and backpacking opportunities for those who prefer a little more solitude and to experience a closer relationship with nature. The Blackland Prairie and Post Oak Savannah Habitats come together here. The large, undeveloped area encourages a rich biodiversity of these two habitats and a unique opportunity for even the most experienced nature enthusiast.
We only had one full day at the park since we arrived late on Friday and had to leave early on Sunday, so we didn’t get to hike the main trail connecting the two parks. We plan to make a return trip with our kayaks to paddle down Yegua Creek and hike the main trail. I have learned since our trip that Flag Pond, which lies along the main trail between the two parks, is a popular place to spot waterfowl and wading birds. On our way home, we drove over to Nails Creek Unit to check out the park. After visiting both units, I would prefer to camp at Birch Creek, but there are plenty of birding opportunities at Nails Creek. These photos were taken at Nails Creek across the lake from a portion of the main trail. They are a bit unfocused since they are so far away, but you get the idea. Look at all of those egrets!
Waterfowl across Lake Somerville from Nails Creek Unit
On our last morning, we reluctantly packed our gear after breakfast. Lake Somerville had made our top 5 favorites list for 2012 and we were already talking about our next visit. The large, undeveloped natural world along the main trail and Yegua Creek calls for our return. It’s a call we won’t ignore.