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When summer heat leaves residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth area longing for cool breezes, many of them head for Joe Pool Lake. This reservoir was created in 1985 for water supply and recreation for the millions of residents of the nearby metro-plex. When the lake was finally full in 1989, a full 7,740 acres of water surface provided those cool breezes sought by area residents and offered fishing, camping, boating and swimming facilities to meet every visitor's needs. Although other reservoirs exist south of Dallas-Ft Worth, Joe Pool Lake is one of the largest, and is specifically planned to provide access to the public in a number of places.
Although Joe Pool Lake could be termed urban, much of the land surrounding the lake is park land, mostly public. The atmosphere is natural, and the camping facilities are excellent. Swimming and boating are favored activities. Visitors enjoy pontooning, sailing, power boating, water-skiing, tubing, wake-boarding, canoeing, and kayaking. Two marinas on the lake provide boat rentals, and boat slips can be leased for those who wish to keep their larger watercraft at the lake. The marinas offer bait, ice and snacks. One also has a restaurant available for a sit-down dining experience after a long day on the water.
Boat ramps are available in several spots along the 60-miles of shoreline to accommodate the many fishermen who enjoy fishing the varied underwater terrain of the reservoir's two arms. White crappie, largemouth bass, and catfish are the species most often fished for, but bluegill and sunfish are popular with the children. The lake has very little plant life, which limits spawning of some species. State experts are working to improve the fishery; this is still a young lake, and good habitat takes time to develop. Joe Pool Marina at Cedar Hill State Park also has a pay 'fishing barge': a covered platform on pilings over the water with benches built around an open center 'fishing hole'- very popular with families and senior citizens!
The best-known park on Joe Pool Lake is Cedar Hill State Park. The 1826-acre park has over 300 campsites, hundreds of picnic tables and grills, swim area, hiking trails, mountain bike trail, boat ramps, the marina, and fishing barge. An additional attraction at Cedar Hill State Park is the Penn Farm Agricultural History Center, where tours demonstrate how farm families lived and worked over 150 years ago. The Escarpment Nature Preserve is also part of the park and is home to five native tallgrass prairie remnants containing a variety of endangered plants. The reserve harbors many more common animals that city dwellers often don't see, including bobcat, coyote, fox, squirrel, armadillo, and raccoon. The park is also a flyway for neotropical birds and is often the destination of bird-watching clubs.
Some of the other parks along the shore of Joe Pool Lake are: Loyd Park, with campsites, boat ramps, hiking trail, swimming beach, picnic facilities, equestrian trail, softball and volley ball courts. Loyd Park also rents camper cabins with up to two bedrooms. some that are handicap accessible. These modern-style cabins are excellent for the reluctant camper in the family who dreads 'roughing it'.
Lynn Creek Park has a boat ramp, a beach area, a concession stand, group and single use picnic sites, and sand volleyball courts. Lynn Creek Park is a day use facility.
Britton Park's primary purpose is to allow boaters easy access to the southernmost reaches of Joe Pool Lake. Boat launch fees are reasonable, and a parking lot and rest room are provided.
The area around Joe Pool Lake is well-supplied with other recreational activities such as golf courses. And, being only 10 miles from the metropolitan areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, there is never a shortage of places to shop, attend a movie or theater performance or enjoy a night out, complete with fine dining and night-clubbing.
Named for the late Congressman Joe Pool, the reservoir was planned originally in the 1960s, but construction was not started until 1977. The dam was completed in 1985. Joe Pool Reservoir impounds the waters of Mountain Creek and Walnut Creek, forming the two arms at the south end of the reservoir. Once water leaves the dam area, it flows northward as Mountain Creek until it ends at Mountain Creek Lake. Currently Joe Pool Reservoir serves as a water supply for the City of Midlothian, but other municipalities can claim water if they need to do so in the future. Before the lake was filled, extensive archeological excavations were carried out in the area. Discoveries at that time included small, briefly occupied camps of prehistoric hunter/gatherers, several larger reoccupied prehistoric camps, a small prehistoric village, an antebellum plantation, several large post-Civil War farmsteads, and a number of late nineteenth century farmsteads with standing buildings. These excavations greatly enhanced the knowledge of historic settlement in the area, with both ancient pottery and spear points found, as well as more modern canning jars and ceramic dishware.
Real estate opportunities still exist along the shore of Joe Pool Lake, mostly in new developments. Both existing homes and lots for building can be purchased, some with generous lake frontage. Few vacation rentals are available along the shoreline, but the occasional private residence is available for lease. However, the surrounding areas are full of other lodging choices, from hotels and motels, bed-and-breakfasts, condos, sublets and guest cottages. With a generous offering of public access to the lake, even those who stay some distance away can take advantage of the beautiful expanse of open water daily. So the next time you have a chance to visit the Dallas-Fort Worth area, make the trip to Joe Pool Lake. Bring the swim suits, the kids and the water skis. There's something for everyone at Joe Pool Lake. Come and experience it all for yourself.
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