Our long Easter weekend trip once again proved to be a fabulous break for us, just as it was last year. This trip was mostly a repeat experience from last year, with the exception of adding one additional night upfront at a new campground to check it out for the first time.
Some time back, I started looking for other places to camp in our area besides our beloved state parks, not because we are dissatisfied with them, but rather to just have some options when we want to go camping and cannot get a reservation at a state park. We believe that more and more people in our area are purchasing RVs and going camping these days, as it seems to be a bit harder to get reservations than even three years ago when we first started traveling by RV ourselves. We cannot always plan a quick weekend getaway too far in advance, since we are still limited by Hubby’s work schedule and his business travels, so we are very interested to check out some new places that can still provide us some options to get out-of-town in some last-minute situations. Corps of Engineer campgrounds are another option, even though we do not have any in our immediate area, and the closest one is about four hours away. That is still an option for us at times, so we decided to check out one of these campgrounds for a night.
Hords Creek Lake has two COE campgrounds, Lakeside and Flatrock, although Flatrock is shut down for the forseeable future, probably due to lack of demand. We camped at Hords Creek Lake – Lakeside Campground on the Wednesday night before Easter, and it was a good experience for us, even though it was a bit confusing, too. I reserved a full-hookup site online at reservation.gov for that night, and I’m glad I did, not because the campground was full, but apparently that is the only way to secure a site there, other than calling a toll-free number when arriving at the gatehouse. Perhaps this is not the case in later weeks and months when occupancy probably increases, and we noted that the gatehouses were to open for the season a couple of days later, too. We also wondered if it was even possible to camp overnight here if we didn’t have an advance reservation ahead of time. We can do that in the state parks by just registering and paying in the drop box if the park office is closed. And oddly enough, we never saw a single park person the entire time we were there. We left around noon the following morning and even stopped by the park headquarters to make sure we didn’t owe a daily fee of some kind before we left the park. The door was open and there were signs that someone was on duty, but after five minutes and asking if anyone was there, no one ever appeared at the desk. It was just a strange experience for us, as we are accustomed to the state parks being well staffed and having security patrols come by regularly. It left me with some mixed feelings about camping here in the future, even though the campground is actually quite nice. We just like to have security around when in a remote place like this. I am wondering if this is pretty much how all of the COE campgrounds operate, too.
I would recommend the campground as long as you don’t mind pretty much being on your own here. We will definitely consider returning sometime, since we did have a bit of cell and data signal in case of an emergency, probably from the small town of Coleman which is about seven miles away. I wouldn’t rely on having park personnel nearby to help in such a situation, based on our experience. Lakeside is a huge campground, and I doubt it ever completely fills up these days, since the lake is still down 14 feet. The lake is quite nice, though, and it is a beautiful and peaceful area with many wonderful birds. There was also nice spacing between sites, more than the state parks, and there are some nice trees, even though it is not as densely covered as Abilene State Park and Lake Brownwood State Park, both of which are in this same general area for the most part. This campground would definitely be a great place for a family reunion or other large gathering, especially if most everyone has RVs. As we drove around the campground before we left, we saw many great group facilities, including one that probably had about twenty RV hookups.
For us, this campground would be a place to just getaway for a couple of days, and we would enjoy riding our bicycles here in the future. We pretty much had the park to ourselves on this particular day, too. There are no hiking trails, but since the park is so large, we would enjoy just walking the dogs on the roads and walking down by the lake which is easily accessible. The restrooms were quite nice, and we noticed that the showers only have one water temperature.
Given that this park and Lake Brownwood State Park are the same driving distance for us, we will likely opt for the state park, when it is available. Lake Brownwood State Park is one of the iconic state parks of Texas and is 80 years old. It has nice facilities and great hiking and biking trails for us, as well as full hookups in Council Bluff Campground. It is a beautiful place and more prominently located in the hill country than Hords Creek Lake. Brownwood is a nice town just 20 miles away and has good food and other services available, including dining at Underwoods BBQ, a favorite of ours and many others. There is also a small grocery store and a convenience store available about 8 or 9 miles from the park entrance. We adore Lake Brownwood State Park in the springtime and will likely continue to make a yearly visit there, but we know that there is another option available in this general area for camping now, too.