Because of my last-minute planning, there were not many campsites available in Texas when it was time for me to book our September camping trip. I found one at Fort Richardson State Park in Jacksboro, which isn’t far from us and is a park we’ve never been to, so I reserved a spot for two nights.
There’s a lot of history regarding Fort Richardson, but I’m not going to write about it. We were there to camp, hike, and fish. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the historic site; we did, and it alone is worth a trip—especially for those interested in Texas history.
When we arrived at the park headquarters, we were disappointed to learn that our campsite was not in the main park but was about four miles north on Lake Jacksboro at the North Park Unit. Although we had to drive back and forth several times, it wasn’t bad. The North Park is more remote and a bit quieter than the main park. After seeing all the campsites, we decided we liked the North Park best.
There is a quarry lake directly behind the headquarters that is stocked with trout during the winter. The park ranger told us that though it was too early for trout, the fishing was good. We decided after a few hours of no bites that we may have misunderstood.
My son Ben decided we’d have “camp skills contests.” The first was sharpening a stick with a pocketknife—who finished first, and who had the sharpest stick. Ben set out trying to whittle an old, dry stick. I cheated and used a green mesquite limb, so I won.
Next up was fire starting. I’ve had a few decades more experience with that one, so there was another point for me.
Next was fishing: the first fish, the most fish, and the biggest fish. We decided to give Lake Jacksboro, where the ranger said the fishing was not good, a try. Ben immediately caught a small bass, moving the score to 2-1. He then caught a larger bass, and I caught a sunfish. After that, they quit biting. Ben became the camp skills champion with a score of 3-2.
Hiking trails at Fort Richardson are few and short. The park isn’t a good destination for someone who wants a weekend of hiking. But the two they do have are very pretty and a lot of fun. We especially enjoyed the Rumbling Springs Trail, and despite the name, were surprised when we found a clear spring-fed stream coming out from a rocky cave.
The park is well-kept, but smaller than most state parks. The staff is friendly. And though it may not be a yearly destination for us, we are glad we went.