Friday, June 5, 2015

Campground Review: Martin Creek Lake State Park Tatum, TX

About 3 miles to the southwest of the tiny town of Tatum, TX lies the 287 heavily treed acres of Martin Creek Lake State Park.  I stayed there overnight on my way north to western Chicago after departing soggy Houston following my Home Depot gig.  As Texas state parks go this one is on the smallish size with 61 campsites spread over two loops but the park appeared well maintained and the staff was very friendly and folksy.  The bathrooms were spotless.

Martin Creek Lake and a chair you can watch it from.

Here's the park data sheet:

Hookups:                                 20, 30, 50 amp and water
Fire ring:                                  Yes
Water Access:                         Yes
Fresh Water:                            Yes
Trash Service:                          Yes
Toilets:                                    Yes
Showers:                                 Yes
Dump station:                         Yes
WiFi:                                       No
Level sites:                              Yes
Laundry:                                  No
Store:                                      Souvenirs and small food items
Pool:                                        No
Shade:                                    Yes
Verizon reception:                   None (2 bars of 4G with signal boost)
Internet reception:                   None (3 bars of 4G with signal boost)
Cost:                                        $13 / night

Lake view from my site, which wasn't a "Lake View" site.
The park charges $5 extra for what it considers "Lakeside" sites and these are denoted with a special colored card on the campsite post.  As I drove through the loops to select my site I noticed a few Lakeside sites where access to the lake would be iffy, as in having to drag your kayak through a  hundred feet or so of trees and brush.  At the same time there were several non-Lakeside sites that almost had as good a view so for $5 less  I chose one of those.

Rental canoes are available for rent from the park office.
There is a 1.5 mile hiking trail through the thick trees along the lake and a 6.5 mountain bike trail at the park. not as much as at the bigger Texas state parks but Martin Creek Lake is one of the smaller parks.

The hiking path along the lake side.
One out-of-the-ordinary feature at the park was this small amphitheater with a movie screen where I guess you could show films if you had one of those HD projectors.

I wonder if the mosquitoes get a concession here?
 There is a lighted fishing pier and a wide boat launch path near a loop that contains about a dozen little cabins that you could rent if you were a car camper and RV-less.

The boat launch ramp and lighted fishing pier.
CAVEAT:  You can probably tell I enjoyed my stay but Martin Creek Lake State Park has a serious issue that they need to address because it (they) aren't going to go away by themselves.  That problem is ants.  Not Fire Ants (thankfully) but some other non-biting but very territorially aggressive (as in they want into YOUR territory) strain.  The ranger warns campers about the ants at check-in and I was advised to spray a circle of Raid on the ground around each of the Tank's four tires to keep the ants from climbing aboard.  I did that only to find the next morning that the ants had climbed up the Tank's electrical cord and were attempting ingress through the electrical socket.  I "Raided" hundreds but was still killing ants inside the camper two days after I left the park.  Some sort of campsite ant treatment program needs to be instituted quickly to keep this nice little park camping experience from being ruined.  You may want to call the park office prior to driving up and inquire about the current ant situation.

At $13 per night Martin Creek Lake State Park is one of the best values in the Texas State Park system and offers a varied recreation opportunity for almost everyone.  I really enjoyed the quiet and solitude to be had there.

Thanks for reading! 

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