The water tower at Mother Neff State Park was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

About 30 miles south of Waco, near the town of Moody, Mother Neff State Park spreads across 259 acres of limestone hills, Central Texas prairie, and riparian ecosystems—an idyllic setting for birdwatching, fishing, and events such as weddings and family reunions, but especially attractive to hikers.

When the Leon River, which flows through the park, flooded in summer 2007, many of the campsites, trails, park facilities, and CCC-built structures sustained damage. The park reopened in spring 2008 for primitive camping, but electricity in many buildings has yet to be restored, and facilities are still limited. For campers who enjoy an authentic wilderness experience, a weekend at Mother Neff can prove the ultimate getaway.

Several 1930s rock-and-wood structures in the park, including the open-sided rock tabernacle and the rock water tower, offer insights into the park’s history, and three miles of tree-shaded hiking trails (now fully restored) offer opportunities to study the three ecological zones within the park. While wildlife is plentiful, crowds are not. “Nothing is more conducive to the happiness of a people than to go where the bees hum, the birds sing, and the breezes blow,” Pat Neff once observed. Here, in the park Neff dedicated in 1934 in honor of his own mother, Mother Nature delivers a dose of joy. Call 254-853-2389,

From the January 2010 issue

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