Day Trips: Fairfield Lake State Park, Fairfield
Want to buy a state park?
Fairfield Lake State Park is for sale. Actually, the entire 2,400-acre former power plant reservoir with 21 miles of undeveloped shoreline outside of Fairfield and about 75 miles east of Waco is on the market. It's the largest privately owned lake in the state and it can be yours for $110.55 million.
The 1,460-acre state park encompasses the southern shoreline where three creeks empty into the lake. An old-growth forest of hardwood and evergreen trees covers the rolling hills. The thick woods create a windbreak in the winter and a shady canopy in the summer.
A favorite fishing hole year-round, the park is also a popular campground. All 135 campsites have paved parking spots, picnic tables, and fire pits. Each of the three lakeside campgrounds have showers and restrooms.
Most of the nearly 10 miles of trails are open to hiking and biking, and an equestrian trail follows the eastern perimeter of the park.
One of the most scenic areas of the park is the day-use area that includes a swimming beach and fishing pier. This is a good spot to see the park's resident otters or bald eagles visiting in the winter. As many as 25 bald eagles have been seen at the lake in past years.
The lake was built in 1969 for the coal-fired Big Brown Power Plant, which was retired in 2018.
The state park opened in 1976. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department leases the property in 10 year increments. The current lease expires in December 2022, and the park's future is uncertain.
When asked about the future of Fairfield Lake State Park, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department issued the following statement:
"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continues to work with Luminant [the electrical utility and current landowner] and has entered into an agreement extending park operation until fall 2022. The agreement is contingent upon sale of the property. We are aware that Luminant has begun searching for a new landowner for the property and TPWD looks forward to working with any potential new partners for continued operations of Fairfield Lake State Park."
Since 1991, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (tpwf.org) has raised more than $215 million in large and small donations to support TPWD and ensure the future of Texas' wild things and wild places. It was instrumental in acquiring the 17,351-acre Powderhorn Ranch along the Texas coast for the state. The nonprofit organization helped save a pristine stretch of the Devils River in addition to securing public ownership of large and small parcels of land around the state. Among the group's current conservation projects is raising funds for the new Palo Pinto Mountains State Park west of Fort Worth. When contacted about Fairfield Lake State Park, they replied:
"Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has not had a discussion with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department about this issue. We are currently focused on the $9 million fundraising effort currently underway for Palo Pinto Mountains State Park."
Lake Fairfield State Park is 13 minutes north of Fairfield. No fishing license is required to fish within the park. Reservations can be obtained at tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/fairfield-lake.
1,586th in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.