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The Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway, which is 20 miles long, runs from Weatherford at the trailhead at Cartwright Park, to the trailhead in downtown Mineral Wells. The grand opening was held on June 6, 1998, on National Trails Day. There are four trailheads; Weatherford, Garner, in the state park, and in downtown Mineral Wells. The trailway is built on an old railroad bed, and a railroad line was operated by Texas & Pacific Railway, Missouri Pacific Railroad, and the Union Pacific Railroad.
The trailway offer opportunities for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians. Each of the trailway's four trailheads has drinking water, paved parking, restrooms, trail information, and accessible parking. There is a small access fee for using the trailway.
In the spring of 2002, the Cross Timbers chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Program started a plant survey project for the state park. The long term goal is to provide information on the flora of the Western Cross Timbers that will be used to develop interpretive signage along the trailway. Our goal is to assist the staff in implementing areas that would be used for interpretation, such as areas with good biodiversity, disturbed areas, showing the difference between disturbance and higher quality prairie, and maybe a demonstration area showing the effects of fire, such as burned areas and unburned areas.
Since early spring of 2002, volunteers have identified, with the help of Jeff Quayle and John Snowden, owner of Bluestem Nursery, approximately 300 species of plants. And there are still more to find. Here are some of the plants we have identified so far since spring 2002: Glen Rose Yucca (Yucca necopina)*, Mexican Sagebrush (Artemisia ludoviciana subsp. mexicana), Soft Golden Aster (Chrysopsis pilosa), Prairie Gaillardia (Gaillardia aestivalis var. aestivalis), Pin Cushion Daisy (Gaillardia suavis), Gray Golden Aster (Heterotheca canescens), Texas Groundsel (Senecio ampullaceus), Quayle's Ragwort (Senecio quaylei), White Compass Plant (Silphium albiflorum), Pencil Cactus (Opuntia leptocaulis), Common Woodsia (Woodsia obtusa subsp. obtuse), Big Top Dalea (Dalea enneandra), Escarpment Prairie Clover (Dalea tenuis), Sessile Leaf Tick Clover (Desmodium sessiliflorum), Goat's Rue (Tephrosia virginiana), Lady Bird's Century (Centaurium texense), Sandbells (Nama hispidum), Prairie Celestial (Nemastylis geminiflora), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa var. mollis), Blue Funnel Lily (Androstephium coeruleum), Prairie Stickleaf (Mentzelia reverchonii), Yellow Evening Primrose (Calylophus serrulatus), Tall Grama (Bouteloua pectinata), Carolina Joint Tail (Coelorachis cylindrica), Prairie Cupgrass (Eriochloa contracta), Meadow Dropseed (Sporobolus compositus var. drummondii), Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), Wooly Lip Fern (Cheilanthes tomentosa), Purple Cliff Brake Fern (Pellaea atropurpurea), Sand Plum (Prunus gracilis), Prairie Burnet (Sanguisorba annua), Western Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum hirsutum), Purple Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea var. purpurea), Chinese Lantern of the Plains (Quincula lobata), Heart Leaf Ampelopsis (Ampelopsis cordata), and Gray Bark Grape (Vitis cinerea var. cinerea).
All of us are probably familiar with the Texas Prickly Pear, but many of you have not seen one of our natives - the Black Lace Cactus (Echinocereus reichenbachii). Named for Heinrich Gottlieb Ludwig Reichenbach, the Black Lace Cactus can be found west and southwest of Ft. Worth and south to the Edwards Plateau, growing in gravelly, rocky, or sandy soils, and especially growing on limestone. It is a common occurrence in areas around Parker and Palo Pinto Counties, especially at Lake Mineral Wells State Park, and at Possum Kingdom State Park. In Tarrant County, it is known from Tandy Hills Park. It's probably likely to be found in western Tarrant County also. It is also known from Somervell County at Dinosaur Valley State Park. Its flowers are pink to reddish, flowering from May to June. The other counties it is known to occur are in Brown, Burnet, Hood, Jack, Johnson, McLennan, Williamson, and Young.