Summertime means a lot of sun and soaring temperatures. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area has lots of outdoors activities for the entire family or group of friends. Lake Meredith is the main attraction to the area which lies in northern Texas in what is called the “panhandle area” because it narrows down to the shape of a handle. Normally a drier and more arid environment, the lake was created by an artificial reservoir and spans 10,000 acres. There are five boat launch ramps and one marina that allow people to get into the lake. This area is a national reserve and falls under the protections and preservation that is upheld by the National Park Service, much like other national parks.
Hiking around Lake Meredith
The recreation area has a few hikes for those who want to get out and explore the area a bit. The three maintained trails are all moderate to challenging trails, so keep this in mind. The Harbor Bay Trail is a dirt trail of compacted red dirt that is common to the area. It covers a little over 5 miles and has rolling hills, some steep slopes, steps, and a few switchbacks along the way. The views from the trail include that of the lake and of the mesas found in the area. The Mullinaw Trail covers about 4 miles and can be extended if hikers decide to try a few of the spurs that branch off the main trail and reconnect. The main trail travels along the Canadian River found in the northern part of Texas and within the recreation area. Parts of the trail travel through trees and greenery so visitors can take a rest in the shade and enjoy the foliage of Lake Meredith. The South Turkey Creek Trail is about 2 miles long and is still under construction as the trail is being extended. The 2 miles is relatively flat and winds through the hills. It starts from the picnic area at Harbor Bay and is a quick and fun hike to try.
Camping by the Lake
Camping in Lake Meredith is fun, free, and there are no reservations required! If you want a site, just show up because they are based on a first come, first served basis. There are places to camp along the shore, in wooded campgrounds, scenic overlooks, and other areas too. It can get cold up in North Texas, and fires are permitted if you’re there during the fall or winter but only in fire rings and grills. Deadwood on the ground may be used, but not the cutting of any trees or limbs from trees or other vegetation. There are no hookups for RVs, but there are sites to park them in if you want to bring them and camp with them. Some fantastic sites are overlooking the lake, and campers can stay for up to 14 consecutive days. Bring your friends and family and stay awhile at the lake.
Canoe and Kayak the River and Lake
Canoes and kayaks are welcomed in the recreation area, and they can travel in the shallow waters and small spaces that the boats can’t access. If you don’t have your own kayak, there are ranger-guided kayak trips offered in the summer and fall months where a kayak and guide are provided to you. Kayak or canoe down the quiet Canadian River or try more experienced kayaking across Lake Meredith. Bring a life jacket and enjoy your time on the water.
Off Road Vehicles
Besides the lake, the other most popular thing to do at Lake Meredith National Recreation Area is to ride your off-road vehicle through the sandy washes and dirt roads created over the years. The areas called Blue Creek, and Rosita Flats are designated for all-terrain vehicle use. Watch dirt bikes, ATVs, four-wheelers and jeeps cruise through the sandy roads and trails for some fun out of the water. This is an excellent opportunity to haul your off-road vehicle here, play in the lake, camp, and fly through the dirt roads and trails for a fun and exciting trip!
Bring your horses because there are some great places to ride around Lake Meredith. McBride Canyon and Mullinaw have trail systems that can be ridden. Along the way, there are picnic tables, grills, and corrals. Plum Creek has similar amenities, but keep in mind there is no drinking water available to humans, only horses, and there are no restrooms along the way. Visitors can camp with their horses and explore miles of trails available to them in the area for a fun vacation.
Lake Meredith has a wide variety of ranger programs to participate in. Try the Flintknapping Destinations program where park staff demonstrates how tools and weapons were used in ancient times by people who lived in the area. Join staff and visitors for the Hike of the Month held at a different location every time. Explore the McBride Ranch House which is a historical relic on the recreation area, and learn about the McBride family who was early settlers of the Panhandle. The Wildflowers of the Texas Panhandle is done in the spring. Take a stroll and see what flowers are blooming. The Antelope Creek Village Site Tours are a neat thing to see. Here, visitors can see petroglyphs and learn other interesting facts. Try a Paddle Tour in a kayak as you float down the Canadian River and into Spring Canyon. There are Home on the Range presentations given and a part 1 and a part 2. Learn how pioneer men and women survived on the plains of Texas. These are only some of the programs they offer, and the recreation area offers much more. Stop by the visitor center to schedule one or a few and talk to the staff about what you would like to do and see.
While visiting Lake Meredith, there are other things close by to see and experience. Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is a few miles away. Palo Duro Canyon State Park is about 50 miles away and is a great place to hike, horseback ride, or camp, and is known as the “Little Grand Canyon of Texas.” Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum lies in the city of Fritch, and both kids and adults will enjoy the aquariums and wildlife replicas. Try the Hutchinson County Museum or the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum for other options too.