Park Pick: Haven for Rest
CCC structures and a lake full of fish draw solitude seekers to Meridian State Park.
By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers
Not long after she got the news, Faith Ford Biggs, brokenhearted and grieving, loaded up her camping rig and escaped to Meridian State Park northwest of Waco.
“That was the day my younger sister passed in 2008,” recalls the retired Dallas attorney. “I had to go somewhere, and that park is so peaceful. That place just calls me.”
In fact, for 35 years, the 505-acre, wooded getaway has drawn Biggs, who relishes the extreme quiet these days with her two miniature pinschers.
“I have lots and lots of memories there,” she shares. “I have photos of a huge beehive in the woods. My late husband and I hiked there just to see it. And I remember feeding more than 30 cardinals at our campsite once. I watched them all day long that day.”
Meridian State Park has welcomed visitors like Biggs since 1935. That’s when workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps finished building the limestone refectory that overlooks 72-acre Lake Meridian. They also constructed the lake’s dam, bridges and other park infrastructure.
“The fishing’s great in our lake,” says park Superintendent Adrian Smith. “Many people use the large, wheelchair-accessible fishing pier. They catch largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and bream (sunfish), which are abundant in the lake. Swimming’s great, and walking along the park trails is beautiful, especially in the morning when the birds are singing.”
Speaking of birds, endangered golden-cheeked warblers nest in the park from early March to late June. Keen-eyed hikers may spot some along the Shinnery Ridge Trail, a 1.64-mile loop west of the lake.
Whenever Biggs camps at Meridian, she stays in a pull-through site with full hook-ups. Other overnight options include primitive tent sites, water-only and water/electricity sites, and screened shelters with electricity. A park store sells ice, firewood, hiking sticks and souvenirs.
No matter the time of year, sites can fill up quickly, so campers should plan ahead. “Even though it’s a small park, Meridian does have high visitation, so we recommend reservations, especially on weekends,” Smith says. “Since the park gate closes and locks at 10 p.m. and reopens at 8 a.m., people should arrive early so they can register at headquarters and get a campsite.”
Meridian State Park is about 3 miles southwest of Meridian off Texas Highway 22. For more information, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/meridian or call 254-435-2536.