Take a Hike
Mighty Good Road
Fort Richardson State Park’s Lost Creek Trailway
Distance: 9 miles (one-way) • Difficulty Level: 3/5 • Approximate Time: 1 1/2 hours (bike) 4 hours (hike)
Fort Richardson served as an outpost on the Texas frontier — the northernmost post of a line of forts stretching from the Rio Grande to the Red River.
“There’s quite a bit of history here,” says Fort Richardson park ranger Connor Ricard.
Amid all the history, Fort Richardson State Park’s Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway provides an outlet for recreation.
The 9-mile trail follows Lost Creek and travels the east side of Lake Jacksboro and the Lost Creek Reservoir before crossing the dam and ending at Fort Richardson’s satellite park on the lake.
“We do have people who walk it,” Ricard says. “They get up early in the morning and go off. We get a lot more people who bike it.”
The trail is open to horseback riding, too.
“It’s equestrian friendly,” he says. “We do have an equestrian campsite along the trail. There are places you can get right on the trail and ride your horse. It’s fantastic for that.”
Starting in the main part of the park, the trail passes by the historic commissary and the Chicago, Rock Island and Texas Railroad depot. The trailway follows portions of the former rail line and crosses a couple of train trestles.
If you’ve heard of Texas blues legend Lead Belly, you’ll know that the Rock Island Line “is a mighty good road.”
“The trail has a relatively easy grade,” Ricard says. “It’s one of our ‘rail to trail’ trails. It has a crushed gravel surface and is 6 to 8 feet wide.”
The trailway takes visitors through woodland, prairie and lakeside habitat. Many species of birds and other animals make their home there, including northern bobwhite, western meadowlark, American kestrel, white-tailed deer and armadillo. Along the lake, look for great blue herons, kingfishers and ospreys.
After leaving the park, the trail skirts the town of Jacksboro as it follows Lost Creek. At mile 3, it passes an airport. For the next several miles, it follows the edges of the lake.
“My favorite point on the trail is an overlook over Lake Jacksboro,” Ricard says. “It’s a really beautiful spot to watch the sunset.”
The trail reaches its terminus at the park’s northern unit on Lost Creek Reservoir, where there’s a swimming beach and kayak ramp.
Russell Roe Maegan Lanham | TPWD
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