Trip Date 08/20/2018
Posted On 08/24/2018 17:52:24
Camping | Hiking | Texas | Eustace | North Texas Campgrounds | Texas State Parks | Purtis Creek State Park Review
We had tickets to School of Rock, a Broadway Across America performance at the Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas. Rather than drive back and forth from Austin in one day for the matinee musical, we decided that it would be fun to take a long weekend getaway in "RV There Yet?". Although we had already more than gotten our money's worth out of our Texas State Parks Pass, we still had one remaining "pay half price for the second night" coupon and 1 1/2 months before the pass expired. After reviewing our options, we reserved four nights at Purtis Creek State Park, about one hour away from the Sunday afternoon production.
If you are considering a camping trip in North Texas, take a look at this post for our review of Purtis Creek State Park. The park was located about 60 miles from central Dallas - close enough for a day trip, yet far enough to feel a world away.
Campground Amenities at Purtis Creek State ParkEntrance to the park is available between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM, with registered guests having 24 hour access by use of a code provided at check-in. The roads, RV parking pads and most parking areas throughout the campground were paved (at least one of the overflow parking areas was gravel). We found it interesting that the loop road where all improved sites were located was two-way - nearly every other park where we have camped in the past year had one-way traffic only. The entire campground was clean (dumpsters located throughout the park) - in fact, on several occasions during our 4 day visit we observed the park hosts in their golf cart picking up trash along their drive. Closed from 10:00 AM to noon daily for cleaning, the main bathhouse located in the camping loop was clean and fully functional yet starting to show its age.
With our Texas State Parks Pass, we paid a total of $70.00 for our four night stay. Having the pass saved us $40.00 in daily entrance fees ($5.00 per person per day) plus another $10.00 discount on our campsite (half price for our second night). The water only tent sites rent for $14.00 and the primitive sites for $10.00 each night (in addition to daily entry fees).
The park has a number of both land and water activities available for day-use and overnight visitors. In addition to a large number of tables (many with great views of the lake) for picnicking, land activities include biking, birding, geocaching, hiking and even shopping at the small store located in the park headquarters building. The park also has a small amphitheater near the restroom in the camping area, however during our stay we never saw it in use.
At a cost of $50.00 per day (plus a $5.00 per adult daily entrance fee), the group picnic pavilion accommodates 100 people. With picnic tables, a fire pit and oversized grill, the pavilion was in the day use area with nearby sand-volleyball and playground equipment plus water sports. (During our visit, there was a burn ban in effect which prevented the use of any wood or charcoal fires - so as with every park you visit, be sure to confirm current rules in effect.)
Water activities at the park include fishing (no license required / loaner gear available), boating, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming. If you don't bring your own, one or two person kayaks and paddle boards are available for self-service rent in the park from PaddleEZ at a cost of $18.00 per hour.
The park has fishing piers and fish cleaning stations located on both the camping and day use area of the lake as well as a boat ramp (day use area only). During the short time that we were on one of the piers, we observed a 10-12 year old kid catch two fish in a time span of less than 15 minutes. If you are interested in boating or fishing for largemouth bass (catch-and-release only), catfish, crappie or sunfish, review the wealth of information found at Purtis Creek State Park Lake including both limits (to number of boats and fish), regulations and tips for fishing at the park.
Campsite Amenities at Purtis Creek State ParkIn addition to 59 campsites with 30-amp electric and water each accommodating various RV lengths, Purtis Creek State Park had 5 additional walk-in tent sites (numbered 60-64; on-site water only with nearby restroom) plus 13 primitive hike-in sites ("numbered" A - M; all sharing one nearby pit toilet). While all of the primitive sites were situated along the lakeshore, a small number of the sites with utilities also had lake views.
Online reservations can be made, however sites cannot currently be selected until check-in at the park. (A pilot program has been underway, and according to the employee who helped us select our site when we checked in, guests will have the ability to reserve specific sites beginning in early 2019.) All campsites had back-in RV parking onto a paved surface - some flatter than others. In addition to the on-site utilities, the park has a central dump station located on the road between the sites and park headquarters as well as dumpsters located throughout the park.
Backing into campsite 21 was not difficult, however the site was noticeably sloped from side to side. Since it was more trouble to level than it was worth, we slept all four nights with one side of the bed lower than the other!
Campsites were fairly clean - we did have some tent stakes and fishing lures left from previous campers at our site. Each site had an aluminum table standing on a concrete pad, a fire pit with grate and a double lantern hook. In addition to the paved surface for parking cars and/or RVs, each site had an area with a gravel base for pitching tents. Our site plus a couple of other sites had a double wide parking area which was necessary for longer RVs like ours. (We parked our car and RV side-by-side.)
Most sites were surrounded on three sides with trees providing privacy, however a few of the sites (ours included) had a view of the lake and therefore had trees only on two sides. Some sites would accommodate the hanging of hammocks between trees; although we never did try it due to the hot temperatures, we believe that we could have hung our hammocks between a tree and the double lantern hooks.
Although slightly less private (people walking to the lake sometimes walked between our campsite and the lake), we loved being near the lake. We ate the majority of our meals outside, watched a rabbit scamper about, saw birds flying over the water and a heron on the opposite shore, and even enjoyed the sunset all because of our lake view. Due to our proximity to the water, the croaking frogs also sung us bedtime lullabies to put us to sleep each night. (If the sounds of nature prohibit you from falling asleep, you may want a site farther from the water.)
Scott had good cell and data coverage on Verizon, however my T-Mobile coverage was intermittent. There was a good selection of broadcast television stations, likely due to the fact that the city of Dallas was just an hour away.
Favorite Campsites at Purtis Creek State ParkWe did our traditional walk taking a close look at each of the RV camping sites in search of our favorites. We always want to be prepared with our map of the park and list of preferred sites in case we visit again:
Favorite Campsites with a View
- Campsite 23, our favorite campsite, has a great view, good trees for hanging hammocks and good daytime shade.
- Campsite 21 (our site) was our second favorite site in the entire campground with both a great view and shade.
- Campsite 22 has a good view for shorter trailers (our 33' long RV wouldn't fit here), however the site was not very well shaded.
Favorite Campsites without a View
- Campsite 1 has decent shade with good hammock trees, however it is the site that is farthest away from lake.
- Campsite 5 has a good set-up, good shade due to the dense tree foliage, and also has some trees for suspending hammocks.
- Campsites 10, 30 and 50 each have lots of trees providing good shade as well as hammock opportunities.
- Accessible campsite 46 as well as campsites 47 and 48 are all nicely shaded with good trees.
- If an RV can be situated to the far back of the site in order to take advantage of the shade, campsite 58 is okay as well.
We enjoyed watching a couple of deer during one of our strolls around the campsites - other than a couple of rabbits and two deer, we didn't see any other animals during our four day stay.
Hiking at Purtis Creek State ParkAt just over 6 miles of easy hiking according to the Purtis Creek State Park Trails Map, the park has fewer miles of trails and a smaller range of difficulty than many other state parks that we have visited:
- Solar Trail (0.5 miles round trip / 30 minutes)
- Beaver Slide Nature Path (1.3 miles / 1.5 hours)
- Green Loop of Wolfpen Hike and Bike Trail (0.8 miles one way / 45 minutes)
- Red Loop of Wolfpen Hike and Bike Trail (1.4 miles / 1.5 hours)
- Blue Loop of Wolfpen Hike and Bike Trail (2 miles / 2 hours)
In addition to our numerous walks checking out our favorite campsites, we only took one hike along an official park trail, the Beaver Slide Nature Path. Although the outside temperature was hot, most of the trail was shaded by the tall trees. The hike, which passes each of the primitive camping sites was on a packed dirt and sand trail with many areas covered with dead leaves.
After realizing that we didn't need to veer off on all of the narrow paths that led toward the lake near the beginning of the trail, we finally made our way to the first of three wooden bridges that we would cross along our hike. (Actually, we crossed five bridges as only part of the trail was a loop. We had to retrace our steps along the first part of the trail crossing two of the bridges traveling in the opposite direction as we wrapped up our hike.)
We unfortunately did not see any beavers along the way, but we did pause in the point of interest called "Feathered Friends", a bird blind where hikers can watch birds flying over Purtis Creek Lake.
When we got to the decision point on the trail, we chose to go to the right which had us hiking around the primitive loop sites starting with campsite A. All of the primitive campsites were vacant during our visit, so we took the opportunity to walk into a couple of the sites. All appeared to be near the water with very nice lakeside views - that's the bonus that you get if you agree to only having access to a pit toilet and hiking to reach your site!
The Beaver Slide Nature Path was the one park trail where bikes were not permitted. While mostly flat, the trail did have some slight inclines and descents and was not really an accessible trail due to the numerous exposed tree roots along the way. It took the two of us under an hour (including numerous photo stops) to hike the trail from beginning to end.
On our final morning, I also made my way to the start of the Solar Trail as I wanted to see an example of the signs posted along the short concrete trail parallel to the dam.
Menu and Recipes for our RV Camping Trip at Purtis Creek State ParkIf you'd like some menu ideas and inspiration, take a look at our post titled 4 Night RV Camping Road Trip Menu. You'll find breakfast and dinner recipes that are both quick and easy, and can be used at home just as easily as on the road.
Favorite Texas CampgroundsWhat are your favorite campgrounds in the state of Texas for camping in either your tent or RV, and in your opinion, what makes each campground on your favorites list so special?
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