“This loop is a great way to explore Lake Somerville State Park with a mix of marshes, forests, meadows, and lake views.”
— Karl W
Birding · Lake · Wildflowers
This is a flat, wide trail that offers varied ecosystems, lots of animals, and shortcuts should it prove too long.
This route offers a great variety of landscapes in a relatively short distance. You'll get to see a number of creeks, marshy areas, some dense forests, and large meadows that are full of wildflowers in spring. The highlight is the full loop around Flag Pond which is a man-made migratory bird sanctuary, and it is packed with birds. There is limited shade on this hike.
Need to Know
The park was completely flooded by Hurricane Harvey and as of early 2018 some areas are still closed. The entire park was still closed to horses despite it's extensive infrastructure for equestrian exploration. Be sure to call ahead for closures.
There is a small parking area off of County Road 140 at the very end with room for perhaps 10 cars. Be sure to have a park pass from the nearby Nails Creek Visitor Center, or fill out a self-service/payment form and place it in your car. Also be sure to not block any gates or access routes for all the oil sites around as these are active. CR 140 is gravel, but in great shape for any car type.
From the small parking area, hike about 100 feet to a white gate, behind which you'll find Newman Bottom Access Road
, a wide gravel road. You'll shortly see where it splits, follow it north through some forest and over a small bridge. You'll pass Gerdes Spur on your left. Newman Bottom will open up into a huge meadow/swamp area which should be dry. Don't expect any shade for a long time once it opens up. You should be able to see some herons in the distance. You'll come to an intersection with the Lake Somerville Trailway
and White Bass Run—go a little further onto the bridge over Yegua Creek to see it. Then head back and east on the Trailway.
The Trailway follows Yegua Creek, but it doesn't have many views of it. You'll cross a tributary and then gain a touch of elevation to enter a completely different dry meadow. There should be a lot of wildflowers in the spring. When you come to another intersection with Alligator Loop and Sehike Thicket Trail
, you'll see a kiosk and small shelter you can rest in. Then follow Sehike Ticket Trail through some dense forest (and the first real shade since the beginning) to Flag Pond.
You can go either way around Flag Pond. Both sides have great views of the pond, both the north and east sides are right along the water and offer the best chances to see waterfowl, but are nearly shade-less. If you go clockwise, you'll start out on Flag Pond Loop
trail (which is actually a half-loop). This is a very wide service road type trail that can have active–but rare—traffic on it for the oil pumps in the region, one of which you'll see, and definitely hear, about a mile later. A little after the big pump, you'll see the system that is used to maintain the water level in the pond. Continue past the primitive camp area to find the Lake Somerville Trailway
again. Note as of April 2018 the primitive campsites seemed closed.
Follow the Trailway west past some restrooms and a small shelter. The Trailway skirts private property and the pond, offering nice views throughout. It also has more shade than the Flag Pond Loop
side. Eventually, you'll return to the road, cross it this time to stay on the Trailway. The Trailway will pass though a different type of forest and some more meadows to offer yet more variety to the hike. You'll come to a small intersection with Newman Bottom Access Road
which you can take back to the parking area.