Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mother Neff State Park

Donna and I just returned from a short trip to Mother Neff State Park. This is a jewel of a park, and I started not to write about it because I want to keep this place to myself. Once people find out just how nice it is, it will be overrun, I'm afraid.

Mother Neff State Park is in the center of a triangle formed by Waco, Temple, and Gatesville. It's main entrance is less than a mile south of Texas 107, which runs from Gatesville to Moody.

Today, the park encompasses almost 400 acres. The park is named for Isabella Eleanor Neff, who donated the original 6 acres of the park. Over time, the park acquired additional tracts of land, including a 250 acre tract from "Mother" Neff's son, Pat M. Neff, who served as Governor of Texas from 1929 to 1932 and was instrumental in the development of the Texas State Parks system. Additional information on the development of this park is available at http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_lf_p4503_0022h.pdf.

Activities at the park are mainly limited to camping and nature pursuits, such as fishing, hiking, and bird watching. Most of the park is fairly flat except for a deep ravine slicing through the center of the park from north to south. Numerous trees dominate the central portion of the park, including junipers, oaks, elms, and pecans, among others. Various bird species abound throughout the park.

The park has recently undergone a massive upgrade, with a new headquarters located in the north section of the park and a new 20 site campground, all with full hookups. I did not take pictures of the campground, but you can find some very good ones @ http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/mother-neff/fees-facilities/campsites. Just click on the picture for the type of campsite you are interested in to bring up the pictures.

Bath house in the new camping loop

Interior of men's bath house

Handicapped shower in men's bath house

The park is bounded on the east by highway 236. Although it is not a busy highway by any means, campsites nearest the highway do get more highway noise. Also, 3 or 4 of those campsites have no trees, so they have a rather barren look. We stayed in campsite 16, which is a pull through, and we were very happy there.

Access to this section of the road is blocked to large rigs, like motorhomes and travel trailers.
A road with limited access connects the old part of the park in the south with the new section in the north. This is a narrow, twisting road, and large rigs are not allowed on this section of road, which is just under 1 mile in length. I think it would be a good place to ride a bike, as there is little up and down on this stretch.

The south part of the park is the older section. The park is bounded on the south by the muddy Leon River, and fishing is available there. Today this section is a day use area.

Rock Tabernacle in the older section of the park

Breezeway building in the older section of the park

The muddy Leon River, looking downstream from the bridge just outside the old park entrance

Logjam on the Leon River, looking upstream from the bridge just outside the entrance to the older section of the park. Note park building in background right center.
Mother Neff SP is almost halfway between San Angelo and Donna's home of Conroe, just north of Houston. We plan to make it a regular stop as we make our periodic trips to the Conroe area. It's a peaceful park, and a good place to spend a few days just enjoying nature.


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