Let’s face it; Texas’ hot summers can wear a body down. This year the heat wave started early and shows no sign of letting up for months. But fear not, the Brazos River Authority has the cure for your summertime blues. How about a dip in the cool waters of beautiful Possum Kingdom Lake?

This natural treasure has drawn families and other recreationists to North Texas for generations. Located just a short drive west of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Possum Kingdom covers nearly 18,000 acres and is surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs, including the landmark Hell’s Gate formation.

But the best part of the lake is there is so much to do at PK, most of it at no charge. Whether one likes camping, hiking, fishing, water skiing, swimming or many other outdoor activities, fun awaits at the lake. Here are a few of the ways you can unwind at Possum Kingdom.

Possum Kingdom features 10 Brazos River Authority public areas scattered across the lake’s central peninsula and on the west side. Nearly all are free year round, and the two that charge during the summer months call for a modest fee. The parks feature ample camping sites and sheltered picnic tables from the wooded areas right up to the lake front.

The youngest members of the family will enjoy the Brazos River Authority’s playgrounds at North D & D campground and Sandy Beach Park. Designed with age-appropriate areas for 2- 5 year olds and 5-12 year olds, they meet national playground guidelines and feature the latest in child-safe playground equipment with swings, slides, spinners, twisters, climbing areas and learning panels.

These fun zones are Americans with Disabilities Act accessible. They sit atop a 12-inch thick layer of wood chip-style materials to cushion the ground throughout the play area. The playground also offers parent-friendly sitting areas with benches. Nearby at both parks are ADA accessible restrooms with showers.

Many of the public areas also feature marked swimming areas, roped off well away from traffic on the lake. For more information about PK lake public use areas and their amenities, please click here.

If getting on the water is your thing, Possum Kingdom Lake offers many opportunities. The BRA has built several boat ramps and courtesy docks in and around the public use areas. Most of these facilities are free to use, year round.

Whether you like to water ski or to tool around the lake on a personal watercraft, there is plenty of room to do it on PK’s 17,700 acres. And with a daily fee of $5 per boat, going on the lake is practically free.

Texas anglers know the lake is also a good place to cast their lines. Among the varieties of fish you might hook are largemouth, striped and white bass; white crappie; and channel and blue catfish. Many people also like to fish in the Brazos River just below Possum Kingdom’s Morris Sheppard Dam. For more information about fishing at the lake, please click here.

One area where the BRA has been busy making improvements in recent years is our network of hike and bike trails. These crisscross Possum Kingdom Lake’s central peninsula, connecting the lake’s public areas with 16 miles of paths.

The wide trails are suitable for hikers with a wide range of abilities, averaging a 5 to 20 degree slope. You can enjoy the sights and sounds of Texas flora and fauna along the winding trails or at one of 19 lookouts. One segment of the trail winds to the top of Johnson Peak, where a scenic rest area equipped with benches provides spectacular views of most of the lake, including the iconic Hell’s Gate.

The trails feature plentiful signs, as well as maps at the trailheads, to keep visitors on the right path. Water fountains and restrooms have been installed at various trailheads.

Throughout the trail system, rest areas with cedar benches have been constructed at scenic overlooks; many named for Texas universities. With titles such as “Longhorn,” “Raider” and “Aggie,” the rest areas feature display signs with information about history, geology and animals of the area. Click here for a printable map of the trail system.

Whether you want to spend a few days camping or just want to get away for the day, the opportunities for fun at the cool waters of Possum Kingdom Lake are practically endless. For information on recreational activities at PK, call 940-779-2321.