What to do in Lake Somerville State Parks and Trailway, Birch Creek

Lake Somerville State Park Complex consists of four units: Birch Creek, Nails Creek, Lake Somerville Trailway, and the Somerville Wildlife Management Area. It is northwest of Brenham in Lee and Burleson Counties. Birch Creek is 2,365 acres in Burleson County on the north shore, and Nails Creek consists of 3,155 acres in Lee County on the south shore near the west end of the reservoir. The two units are connected by a 13-mile trailway system. The Somerville Wildlife Management Area (WMA) consists of 3,180 acres with the Yegua Creek Compartment in southwest Burleson County and the Nails Creek Compartment in northeast Lee County.

The Somerville Reservoir was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Work was started in June 1962, and deliberate impoundment of water was begun in January of 1967. The dam is located on Yegua Creek, 20 miles upstream from its confluence with the Brazos River, and about two miles south of Somerville. Somerville Reservoir covers 11,630 acres with a shoreline of 85 miles. Its main purposes are flood control, municipal water supply, and recreation. The state park complex was leased from the Federal Government in 1969 and opened in 1970.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department manages the Somerville WMA under a license agreement and in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Flag Pond is a 350-acre impoundment in the Yegua Creek watershed; it is located within the Lake Somerville State Parks along the Somerville Trailway. The pond is a natural depression which has served as wetland habitat for waterfowl wintering (mid-October to mid-February) in the Lake Somerville vicinity. Flag Pond was originally developed by a private hunting club in 1926.

The terrain is gently rolling. The various soil types range from fine sand to clay loam with loamy fine sand dominating the Birch Creek State Park, and fine sandy loam dominating the Nails Creek State Park. There are three main creeks that either run through or border the parks, all of which drain into the reservoir. They are Nails Creek, along the southern border of Nails Creek, Yegua Creek, which enters the lake on the north side of Nails Creek, and Birch Creek, which forms the east border of Birch Creek. Between the two parks, at the western edge of Lake Somerville, is Flag Pond and numerous other duck ponds, marshes and bogs.

The Somerville Trailway passes through dense stands of yaupon, post oak, hickory, blackjack oak, and water oak forests, past scenic overlooks and water crossings. The trail has one of the best spring wildflower displays in the Texas State Park System. Flowers include Texas bluebonnet, Indian paintbrush, wine cup, golden smoke, and spiderwort. A scenic drive, with abundant wildflowers, to Nails Creek would be FM 180, FM 1697 and Scenic Highway 390. The best wildflower viewing will be from March 15 to April 25. Many species of birds and wildlife may be observed and photographed including white-tailed deer, fox, coyote, raccoon, rabbit, waterfowl, and quail. A bird checklist is available at the Birch and Nails Creek headquarters. Visitors can enjoy fishing for white bass, crappie, largemouth bass, and catfish.

Facilities:

Birch Creek: Facilities include restrooms with and without showers; 3 group picnic pavilions; primitive campsites; walk-in tent sites; campsites with water and electricity; equestrian campsites; a group trailer area with water and electricity sites adjacent to the group dining hall (dining hall may be rented separately for day-use); a fishing Jetty; a fish cleaning shelter; a family fishing pond; trailer dump stations; a convenience store adjacent to the park entrance; a sand and a grass volleyball court; basketball; horseshoes; two double-lane boat ramps; a boat dock; and multi-use trails. Total trail mileage (including the Trailway) is 19 miles with 13 for backpacking and equestrian use and the entire 19 for day hiking, mountain biking, birding, and nature study. Ground fires are prohibited along the trail and in primitive camping areas.

Nails Creek: Facilities include restrooms with and without showers; group picnic pavilions; primitive campsites; campsites with water and electricity; walk-in tent sites; equestrian campsites with corrals; kids fishing pond; fish cleaning shelters; trailer dump stations; two grass volleyball courts; a double-lane boat ramp; and multi-use trails. Total trail mileage (including the Trailway) is 16 miles with 13 for backpacking and equestrian use and the entire 16 for day hiking, mountain biking, birding, and nature study. Ground fires are prohibited along the trail and in primitive camping areas.

The Lake Somerville Complex is located along the Presidential Corridor between Austin and College Station. Nearby attractions include Bastrop and Buescher State Parks, Stephen F. Austin and Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Parks; Bluebell Creamery; and Texas A&M University. You may also want to refer to nearby U.S.Army Corps of Engineers and parks. For more information on the Somerville area visit the Somerville Chamber of Commerce website at: www.burlesoncountytexas.com

Camping fees vary; per person entrance fee. For reservations, call 512/389-8900. Current conditions including fire bans and water levels can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Recreation
Both units offer a multitude of recreational opportunities such as camping, picnicking, boating, fishing; hiking and biking, volleyball,horseshoes, basketball, backpacking, and horseback riding (visitors must bring their own horses). More than 20 miles of trail are open to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians affording visitors the opportunity to exercise and enjoy the beauty of the parks. Water lovers can enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, and skiing on Lake Somerville. The Lake Somerville Trailway System, located around the west end of the reservoir, connects Birch Creek State Park with Nails Creek State Park via 13 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, backpacking, birding, and nature study. Flag Pond, located approximately 4 miles from Nails Creek State Park and 9 miles from Birch Creek State Park along the Somerville Trailway, provides waterfowl hunting and non-consumptive wildlife viewing opportunities in conjunction with a system of interpretive trails, nature study, outdoor classrooms, and wildlife photography.

The Flag Pond Nature Theatre provides an excellent wildlife-viewing platform. The management objective is directed toward wintering waterfowl and increasing food supply to better condition the birds before their journey to spring nesting grounds. Strategies to accomplish these objectives include planting of domestic grain crops, moist soil management, and water level control. This project will increase waterfowl hunting opportunity and non-consumptive wildlife viewing opportunities in conjunction with a system of interpretive trails, as well as opportunities for nature study, outdoor classrooms, and wildlife photography. Campgrounds for equestrian and backpackers are located along the trailway. Well water for horses only is available at Newman Bottom and Wolf Pond. Chemical toilets are in the area. There are also trails accessible to the disabled in both parks.

Location
Lake Somerville State Parks & Trailway are situated within the Gulf Coast region of Texas.

To reach Birch Creek from Somerville, take State Highway 36 north 4 miles to Lyons; go west on FM 60 for 8 miles to Park Road 57; then 4 miles to the park entrance.

To reach Nails Creek from Giddings, take US Highway 290 east to FM 180. The park is located on FM 180, 15 miles off US Highway 290.

For directions to Somerville WMA, inquire at either Birch Creek or Nails Creek Headquarters for directions, public hunting information, and nature trail maps.

Climate
Lake Somerville State Parks & Trailway are located at elevations ranging from 190 to 496 feet. Temperatures within the park range from an average July high of 95 degrees and a January average low of 48 degrees. September and October are the wettest months. The first/last freeze is usually December 8/February 7. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Address
Birch Creek
Rt. 1, Box 499
Somerville, TX 77879-9713

Phone: 979/535-7763


  • Lake Somerville State Parks and Trailway, Birch Creek Travel Q&A

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