Lake Corpus Christi State Park
The lake by the sea offers calmer water for anglers and excellent birding opportunities.
By Marian Edwards
A small family of javelinas greeted the truck as I pulled into Lake Corpus Christi State Park on a blustery day. Perhaps not a true welcome; they merely gave the truck a wary glance and kept their snouts to the ground, rustling through the underbrush next to the park road. They remained undaunted in their quest for lunch, even when photographed from the truck. My own hunger pangs reminded me that it was lunchtime and directed me down the winding park road to the picnic area at the lake’s edge.
On weekends, this day-use picnic area is a popular site for family cookouts. In drought years, when the lake’s water level is lower, picnickers often get an impromptu soccer or football game going in the grassy area next to the lake. A group picnic pavilion close to the water is also available by reservation. Each picnic site comes with a grill and water; most have shady trees or a cover over the picnic table and a view of the lakeside. Fire up the grill and have a cookout, then grab the fishing tackle and stroll down to the floating pier. There’s no need for a fishing license when fishing from the bank or pier in a state park — this is an easy location to introduce little ones (and maybe yourself) to the quiet joys of fishing for crappie, channel and yellow catfish, sunfish and bass.
On a hot day, splashing, swimming or just floating in your tube at the unsupervised beach is the way to go. If the lake waters attract the water skier or sailboarder in you, there are two boat ramps. Call the park (361-547-2635) to be sure both are accessible, since one ramp is available only when the lake is full.
This park, with structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s, is located on the shores of 21,000-acre Lake Corpus Christi. The mesquite brushland of the park provides habitat for white-tailed deer and javelina, and the lake is a popular stop for migrating birds. You might spot a black-bellied whistling-duck, long-billed thrasher, pauraque or black-throated sparrow as you walk or bike on the park’s paved roads.
The CCC built a bathhouse, a park residence and the Mediterranean-style refectory. The refectory still overlooks the lake from a high bluff and serves as a popular spot for weddings, family reunions and school groups. The setting invites cool breezes into the facility and draws visitors for the hilltop views of the lake and surrounding countryside.
RV owners can take advantage of pull-through sites with full hookups, while tent campers can choose a campsite with water and electricity, or go a bit primitive with a water-only site. Though in the brushland of South Texas, mesquite and acacia trees are plentiful in the park, and most spots are shady, a welcome sight in summer. The rustic screened shelters (many on a bluff overlooking the water) are popular spots year-round. The big freshwater lake is popular with visitors from the Valley, Laredo, San Antonio and Houston, but also draws coastal residents looking for calmer fishing waters.