Every amazing city needs an amazing park, and like Zilker Park in Austin, Trinity Park in Fort Worth or Hermann Park in Houston, Cameron Park is the soul of Waco. A beautiful park, set along the Brazos River, just downriver from where the Bosque River and Brazos converge, the park offers playgrounds, picnic areas, Jacob’s Ladder, several gardens, hike and bike trails, a disc golf course and a zoo.
We had planned a picnic in Waco to meet with my husband’s brother and his family and we wanted to play a round at the Cameron Park Disc Golf Course. The course is really lovely, with nice elevation changes and views of the Brazos River.
We stopped in West at Bush’s Chicken and pick up some chicken to eat at the park. We waited about an extra 20 minutes to get a family meal of 10 drumsticks, but it was worth it, as they are everyone’s favorite and no one had to fight over them! Czech Stop is right next door, and while it was tempting to go get some kolaches, we wanted to play at the park, not nap.
Speaking of naps, our oldest, a student at Texas State University, was driving up from San Marcos to meet us, and when he arrived about 20 minutes earlier than us, we found him and his dog asleep under a tree near the river. Have I mentioned that it was a beautiful day?
We climbed Jacob’s Ladder, ate our picnic in the historic Rock Shelter and played the disc golf course afterwards, and by the afternoon it was already getting a little warm. The park was full of people out enjoying the trails, families riding bikes or setting up for birthday parties around the playground.
Our family has been playing disc golf since my kids were very little, with its biggest attraction being that it was free, disc are somewhat inexpensive and kids will seldom lose as like me, they can’t throw very far. I take great pride in saying I have never lost a disc, although I usually play a par 6 at each hole. It’s important when playing with kids or slow players, to be aware of other players, and let them play through. Even today, we’re still really slow players. Like a lot of sports, disc golf has had its rises and falls in popularity, and it’s definitely on a rise currently, which is great because it is a wonderful way to get outside! With popularity also comes people looking to make money, and there are private, pay to play courses popping up around the state, as well as fun putting nights at bars, where they set up several baskets and you pay to enter in contest. But the free park courses will always remain my favorites!
Mother’s Day, 2014
Cameron Park is really a series of parklets set along the Brazos River, connected by hiking and biking trails, as well as a road.
I was given my choice of destinations for Mother’s Day, and chose Cameron Park because of the numerous activities available! With a wonderful mixture of families, runners and mountain bikers, it feels a little like Austin, but it also has a great small town feel!
With a couple of teenagers in the family, food is a big priority. We began our day with a picnic brunch in the park. A 35 minute wait in line at the Czech Stop in West, just 15 miles North of Waco, was completely worth it! I been a fan of their kolaches and pulled pork puffs for years, but my husband insisted I try their reuben with thousand island dressing, and it was AMAZING!
Cameron Park Zoo
You can hear the lion roar from the park, but it’s even cooler to see them in person! Click HERE to read more!
There are plenty of picnic tables at all the parks along the river. We choose a table under a huge pecan tree, right across from the entrance to the Cameron Park Zoo. It was a wonderful place to watch the boats, water skiers, kayakers and ducks along the river. We relaxed and planned our day, as cottonwood seed fluffs floated through the park like little wood sprites!
There are a few grills in the park, but not many. If you are planning a cookout, don’t count on being able to find one, and many people bring their own.
With over 20 miles of trails, we used the park maps to plan our course. The maps are marked with the easier trails, moderate and more challenging ones. No need to worry about getting lost, each of the stops along the trail offers a map, and a little information about your current location.
We drove up to Lover’s Leap, and worked our way down the trails, because it’s so much easier going down!
This scenic overlook offers a perfect stop for photo ops, engagements and many couples have even tied the knot here.
We just like to goof around.
Lover’s Leap offers a beautiful view of the Bosque River valley.
Of course, Lover’s Leap has its own tragic love story.
Northern Gateway is just across the street from Lover’s Leap, and has a great playground and misters to help keep cool!
Mouth of the Bosque
The trails are well-marked, and most are, thankfully, shaded! We were pleasantly surprised by the bamboo forest and challenging climbs and descents on the trails. Proof of the diverse wildlife in the park was visible, although we only saw a few squirrels during our visit.
The Mouth of the Bosque River is where the Bosque and the Brazos rivers converge, and continue on to the Gulf of Mexico as the Brazos River. There were plenty of people out fishing in boats and along the shore. There are several public boat launches up and down the river.
Relaxing under the shade of a huge pecan tree….
while I had to visit the restrooms! Happily, they are full restrooms, not port-a-potties, with restrooms, sinks (BYOS – bring your own soap), and drinking fountains!
Circle Point offers another amazing view of the Brazos River valley.
It’s impossible to visit Cameron Park without climbing Jacob’s Ladder. Well, it’s not really impossible, but you should.
At the top of Jacob’s Ladder is The Clubhouse and across the street is Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place.
Miss Nellie’s has a lovely fountain WHERE YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSE TO WADE! You would have thought the vibrant blue water would have been a clue for them!
Behind the forbidden fountain, there is a beautiful field of wildflowers with trails. The bluebonnets were all gone, but we could see the seeds, so it must have been amazing.
But I love the Indian Blankets and Mexican Hats just as much!
Anniversary Park is located next door to The Clubhouse, and has a fun playground, where parents can rest before heading back down Jacob’s Ladder.
After a long hike, it felt great to cool off at Pecan Bottoms Spray Park!
After a long rest under the trees, we gathered up to take on the Disc Golf course! It was our first time to play, and we LOVED it, even my six-year-old! The park has 18 “holes”, it’s FREE, and while there were other players, they were very friendly and helpful. Being beginners wasn’t a problem at all!
There were so many geocaches hidden in the park, however we just didn’t have time to go look for any!
If you have your own boats, you can put in anywhere along the river, but there aren’t any shuttles for takeout, so you have to return up the river. There are two paddling trails on the river, the Bosque Bluffs and Brazos Bridges Paddling Trail. Waco Paddle Company and Pura Vida Paddle rent 1 and 2 person kayaks and paddleboards for paddling around the lake, and put in and take out at the same place.
Waco Riverwalk and Suspension Bridge
On our way out-of-town, we stopped to cross the iconic Waco Suspension Bridge! Built in 1870, it was once used to transport covered wagons and even cattle drives across the Brazos!
It’s just fun to walk across it, and relive a little history.
It was a little easier to imagine what that history may have been like during our visit, as three horses and riders came across!
To pay homage to the Chisholm Trail, and the bridges early part of the days of the cattle drives, these steel statues were erected in Indian Springs Park in 2008!
Get along, little doggies!
A Last Laugh
As we were walking along the Waco Riverwalk, my six-year-old kicked a bag into the river. As my husband was scolding him for littering, I realized my son was only wearing ONE shoe!
Yep, the shoe had come off and was inside the bag, floating in the river! We watched as it floated further and further out into the river!
My poor, shoeless boy.
It was heartbreaking.
This guy, Billy, just happened to be fishing nearby and thought he would give it a try to “catch” the bag! After several attempts, he caught the bag, but the shoe slid off into the water as he reeled it in!
The shoe was still floating as he tried a few more times, and unbelievable, hooked it! He reeled it in to a very excited little boy! Thanks, Billy, you were our hero tonight!
More Things To Do in Waco
The Waco Mammoth National Monument takes you to a real mammoth dig site. Click HERE to read more.
If you can’t get in to Magnolia Table for breakfast or lunch, check out their great Grab and Go Menu, which includes Picnic Packs, great for taking to the park.
I love Hotel Indigo, and they have a terrific indoor/outdoor pool, too! Click HERE to visit their website.
2601 Sturgis Rd, Waco
Click HERE to visit their website.
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