The little town west of Fort Worth, regionally popular for being the home of the first hotel opened by Conrad Hilton of the Hilton Hotel chain has found new popularity in the past few years after creating a hiking trail leading to an old abandoned zoo from nearly a century ago! It’s stayed at the top of our “hikes to do” list for at least a year, with something always coming up, so I was thrilled when my son’s Boy Scout Troop decided to go for a weekend camping trip!
After a stop in Thurber on I-20 to tour the ghost town and museum, we arrived at our campsite for the weekend, Lake Cisco Campground. The owner, who lives in the Austin area, has it listed on Hipcamp, which is one of my favorite places to find unique camping sites! Lake Cisco Campground is primitive, with no restrooms for tent campers, but we did have electricity and running water. Our site was next to one of the old cabins, which have fallen into disrepair and are unuseable, but it was hard to think how cool it would be if they were fixed up! It was really a lovely campsite, and best of all, we were just up above the abandoned zoo! A series of steps led down to the zoo and hiking trail, but the campground is private property and only paid campers are allowed. A large open area also allowed the boys to play catch and run around with their friends, something that always make me happy to see my son doing and one of the reasons I love Scouts so much!
The Cisco Zoo was created when the town acquired a bear and some monkeys, and later a few other animals. Holes in the cliffside were fenced in and a zoo was created. A short walk down from the animal cages the city built a huge swimming pool, said to be the largest concrete pool in the world at the time I was told by the camp owner, who grew up in the area. A non-profit came in about 2 years ago and created hiking trails and cleaned up much of the trash and debris from the zoo, and access to the trails is free. Since then, it’s become a very popular hike.
We hiked down and looked around the old cages, many which still have fencing up and the boys climbed on all the big rocks, exploring around the area. We hiked around for a bit, and then down the main trail which led to the trailhead and parking lot at the park. There are more of the old cabins here, as well as an old swing that our boys, mainly in high school and middle school couldn’t get enough of! We continued down to see the remains of the old pool, not something I’d really want to swim in now, but it wasn’t hard to imagine how big and impressive it once was. It’s sits just below the Cisco Lake Dam.
It was a short and easy hike, but completely worth it. I’m sure we’ll be back in the future. Enjoy some of my pictures. There’s a really neat sign and entry at the trailhead, but somehow I didn’t get a good picture of it.
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