Weekend after next, we’ll be seeing runners hit the streets of downtown McKinney for the 2013 Believe 5 and 10K runs. In 2009, I volunteered to cheer runners along the 10K route and was stationed in Towne Lake Park. Five years later, I’ve signed to run the 10K myself, partly because I want to run through this park in a race. This is a sore spot with my husband, who points out that I can run through the park any time I’d like, and that I do, fairly frequently, for free. He just doesn’t understand, and I just can’t explain it.
If you exit northbound Central at the Virginia/Louisiana exit, you pass right by Towne Lake Park. Right now, when you are stopped at the light, you are probably more concerned about the driver who is pretending that they didn’t know that the right hand lane is a right-turn-only lane and is now gunning their engine, preparing to cut off the drivers in the left lane at the next light. The good news is that you can avoid all the stress of dealing with that person by actually turning right at the light. The parking lot for the park is right there.
The loop around Towne Lake is exactly 1.2 miles long. It is all wide, level, paved trail and well lit. It is a popular path for runners, joggers, couples taking romantic strolls, people with strollers, and people with dogs. The shorelines are popular with fishermen and photographers.
Across the street to the north is the Cinemark Movies 14.
Towne Lake Park, which is what I’ve heard everyone call it forever, is actually “Towne Lake Recreation Area“. Each spring, I think in February, they have the “Trout Derby” here. Thousands of trout are released into the waters of Towne Lake and anglers gather to fish for them. (This events has always coincided with a fashion show I like to go to and I’ve never figured out how to make it to both).
One of the city’s statues is on the east bank of the lake. If you’ve ever seen a picture of this statue and wondered where it is, now you know. I’m not sure why there is a statue of the blacksmith hammering out a horseshoe while a boy watches, but I never question art. Well, rarely, and this not one of those cases.
Keep following the trail and you come to a concession building. I took these photos on a Sunday morning, so it wasn’t open at the time, but this is where you can rent the paddleboats. There are restrooms here and a water fountain with an upper basin for humans and a lower basin for dogs.
There are tables for picnicking out in front of the concession building and an isthmus stretches out towards the middle of the lake. On one side, there is a fishing platform. On the other side, there are paddle boats shaped like huge ducks and swans.
There are not, however, any paddle boats shaped like geese.
That may be because geese are already so well-represented by real geese.
Ornithophobia is the fear of birds. If it has not become apparent by now, this park would not be the best destination for a person suffering with that affliction. While stereotypically geese can be a little aggressive, I have never had an issue with any here at Towne Lake. They are interested in you insofar that you might have some food. Other than that, they will pretty much ignore you. Or ignore you while standing in your path. They live for that.
There are beach volleyball pits and, a little further down, horseshoe pits. There are also a couple of big gazebo-style pavilions nestled in amongst the tress on this side.
On the southeast end of the lake, you cross over a pretty foot bridge and turn to follow the shoreline. If you continued straight, you would run into the Wilson Creek Softball and Baseball Complex. Turning to follow the shoreline, there are mature trees that flank the nature trail and provide shade on summer runs.
This side of the lake is especially popular with fishermen. I don’t know if the fish bite better here but it isn’t uncommon to pass fishermen who’ve set up chairs along the shore here.
It doesn’t show up well in the photo, but this bench is one of the vantage points on the whole lake. It faces straight out to watch the paddle boats and all the hustle and bustle of the concession area.
Soon after you enter the wooded part of the path, there is a clear swath that leads back into the tree line. If you follow it all the way back, you will find a very picturesque horseshoe bend in Wilson Creek.
On the other side of the creek is the nature trail. I went on the nature trail some time this past spring. While I can be somewhat “woodsy” at times, I am not much of a nature trail gal. I like a concrete path or a boardwalk. When I was on that trail before, it didn’t give the impression of being much used. (In fact, I thought about trying to write a short story about runner trapped on a trail from which you can see other people but they can’t see or hear you and you’re cut off from them by a deep ravine, water hazards, and snakes.)
There was actually a large group on the trail this past Sunday morning. Perhaps I didn’t give it a fair shake.
The only way to get to the nature trail from the lake area is over a foot path and up to the street that runs by the community center.
But, that is a story for another day. We’ve now completely circumnavigated the lake and the parking lot is right here at the footbridge.
I hope that I’ve interested you in visiting the park. More especially, I hope I’ve interested you in the 2013 Believe 10K. According to the map on their website, we’ll be running from Mitchell Park (downtown), through Finch Park, to Towne Lake Park, over by the First Baptist Church, and then back to downtown. It’s a good route, the race is for a good cause (scholarships to day care), and they have good swag — I still wear my shirt from the 2009 race.
Until next time,
Happy Shopping! (and Running!)