The grand opening of the Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway was held on National Trails Day on June 6, 1998, celebrating the 75th anniversary of state parks. The trail begins northwest of Weatherford, in central Parker County and travels 20 miles westward to the downtown district of Mineral Wells in eastern Palo Pinto County. The Trailway is connected to Lake Mineral Wells State Park and has four trailheads. They are located near Weatherford, in Garner, in the state park, and in downtown Mineral Wells. Self-pay stations are located at each trailhead, or fees can be paid at the Lake Mineral Wells State Park headquarters.
The Trailway provides a diverse experience for the trail user as it winds gently through remote farm and ranch lands and ends in a typical downtown district of an active West Texas community. The rolling hills are abundant with wildlife and a variety of bird life. Spring and fall offer trail users a vivid panorama of colors from the many varieties of trees and flowers that dot the Trailway.
In 1899, the WMW & NW handled over 33,000 passengers, most of which were headed to Mineral Wells to take advantage of the town's "healing water," mineral baths, and resort climate. The financial panic of 1903 put an end to elaborate expansion plans, and the majority of the WMW & NW stock was acquired by well-known railroad magnate and financial manipulator, Jay Gould. Shortly thereafter, the Texas & Pacific Railway Company took control. The T&P Railway (as it became known) was merged with the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1976 and was then succeeded by the present day Union Pacific Railroad in 1983. The city of Mineral Wells purchased the line in 1989, renamed it the Mineral Wells and Eastern and operated it as a freight hauler until the spring of 1992 when it was judged to be uneconomical to operate and abandonment was authorized by the Interstate Commerce Commission in October 1992.
Trailway Activities: The Trailway provides opportunities for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians. Since the Trailway is located on a railroad bed, the grades are very flat and curves are very gentle, making it popular for trail users of all ages and abilities. Camping and picnicking are available in the state park.
Trailway Facilities: The Trailway is 20 miles long and 10 feet wide. The two miles of surface from the downtown Mineral Wells trailhead toward the east is asphalt; the remaining 18 miles is finely crushed and screened limestone. Each of the Trailway's four trailheads has paved parking, drinking water, restrooms, trail information and accessible parking. All 16 bridges have been decked and railed for safety. The Trailway's 500-foot signature bridge, adorned with 104 Lone Stars, is designed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and allows trail users to safely travel over U.S. Highway 180. Note: The Trailway may be closed during wet weather.
Flora/Fauna: The terrain consists of gently rolling hills and crosses numerous small creek ways in the Brazos and Trinity rivers' watersheds. Wildlife observation includes white-tailed deer, turkey, raccoon, fox squirrel, and numerous species of birds. The plant life is typical of the western cross timbers region.
More information on the wildlife mentioned here: Texas Wildlife Fact Sheets.
Directions: The Weatherford Trailhead is located off FM 920 northwest of downtown Weatherford; the Garner Trailhead is adjacent to FM 113, two miles north of U.S. Highway 180; the State Park Trailhead is located within Lake Minerals Wells State Park; the Mineral Wells Trailhead is located adjacent to U.S. Highway 281, four blocks south of U.S. Highway 180.