Hiking the Spillway Trail at Cleburne State Park

Built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, using mostly hand tools to carve the 3 tiers in the Texas Limestone, the Spillway is something to see at Cleburne State Park! After a good rain, the Spillway resembles a waterfall, with water from Cedar Lake above rushing down. It’s equally impressive after no rain at all, when you can climb down and explore the limestone bottom of the tiers and follow them down the West Branch of Camp Creek. An easy, 1-mile out and back trail runs along Camp Creek to the Spillway, offering a nice view of the Spillway and 116-acre Cedar Lake, the highlight of Cleburne State Park!

The trailhead and parking is located right on the Park Road, conveniently next to a restroom, and on our most recent hike we only encountered two other hikers. A hidden gem, the state park has become fairly popular in recent years, as more and more hikers, bikers and water enthusiast are discovering it!

Spillway Overlook at Cleburne State Park, Texas

It’s about .7 of a mile to the Spillway Overlook, or you can continue on to the Coyote Run Nature Trail or the Limestone Ridge Trail. All of the trails are also mountain bike accessible, so keep an eye open. Open limestone ridges at the Overlook make for a nice place to stop and relax, or even a picnic.

Spillway at Cleburne State Park.

Here’s a tip, if the creek bed is dry, detour at the creek crossing and walk up into the Spillway, as opposed to reaching the top and climbing down. Keep an eye out for numerous fossils that are buried in the limestone, but take only pictures, as you aren’t allowed to remove anything from a state park.


Had the day been warmer, we would have followed up our hike with a swim in the clear waters of Cedar Lake, but it was cloudy and a little chilly, great hiking weather!

Here’s some more information about Cleburne State Park from some of our previous trips!


Cedar Lake is a no-wake lake, which makes it perfect for bringing a kayak or paddleboard to explore along the shore, or set out across the lake!  Several water-front campsites make it easy to put in kayaks, and keep during your stay!   The park also offers kayak rentals with a contactless kiosk.

Boat ramp and fishing pier

There is also a boat ramp and fishing pier.

Since Cedar Lake is completely contained within the state park, you do not need a fishing license to fish from the pier, OR FROM A BOAT ON THE LAKE!

Swim Area

There is a nice shower house and restrooms above the swim area.  The swimming area offers a slow and gradual slope into the deeper water, and a nice, gravel bottom.

There are several picnic tables with grills along the water.


Because it’s a no-wake lake, it’s the perfect place to bring a tube or float to just spend the day!  It’s also ideal if you have one of the big party mats or inflatable islands!  Remember to bring life jackets!

RIMG0017.JPGThere are no lifeguards.  Swim at your own risk and bring a US Coast Guard approved life jacket for young and weaker swimmers.

May, 2009

Yes, we’ve been coming to the park for a long time!



It never seems that Texas State Park put much money or effort into their playgrounds, but the playground at Cleburne State Park is located right across from the swim beach, and is a great place to let the kids play and dry off from a day of swimming!



The 13 miles of trails around Cedar Lake are perfect for hiking, trail running and mountain-bike riding!  Do the entire trail, or break it down into smaller segments.


The Coyote Run trail is one of our favorites, although on a bike it’s a little brutal for me.  Our friend Chris, who races mountain bikes, says he loves the trail in March and April when it’s covered in wildflowers!


Unlike nearby Dinosaur Valley State Park, Cleburne is an easy park to get last-minute reservations and it seldom feels very crowded.

The park also has 3 limited-use cabins, which offer air conditioning and heating, and 6 screened shelters.  



It seems we never think about firewood until the stores are closed, but I really like this firewood vending machine, which you can use 24/7!

May, 2011

Meteor Showers

For DFW, this is our preferred site to go for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower each August!  Because the park is quite a ways off any major roads, the park is one of the best places we’ve found for watching the showers!  We spread out a couple of blankets in the open area of North Creek, with a good view of the northern sky.  The restroom has a pesky light, so we angled ourselves so we were able to block it.

Know Before You Go

Load up on gas and groceries before you go, it’s about a 10 miles drive back to town.

Don’t forget bug spray.

Things to do in Cleburne


The Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum takes you back to the Wild West and cattle drives of Texas!  Explore an old school, jail and watch a real blacksmith at work!  

The Cleburne Splash Station has a pool, slides and a lazy river to keep you cool during the summer!

The FREE Layland Museum in the old Carnegie Library is a neat way to learn more about the history of Cleburne and Johnson County!


Before you head out to Cleburne State Park, stop off in Downtown Cleburne to visit the smallest restaurant you’ve ever seen, The Cleburne Burger Bar!  

Grumps is another favorite burger spot!  

Cleburne State Park  

5800 Park Rd 21, Cleburne  

Click HERE to visit their website.

Click HERE to visit their facebook page.  

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