DATELINE -Autumn 2022

The greater Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is home to a number of wonderful parks. Some of the best are found near our local reservoirs, and Murrell Park in Flower Mound is a prime example. Located on the scenic north shore of Grapevine Lake, Murrell Park provides a long list of appealing amenities. The park is operated by the Corp of Army Engineers, and is open to the public every day from 6:00am to 10:00 pm. Entry for day use is free of charge. Once inside the park you will have full access to covered picnic tables, restrooms, boat ramps with plenty of parking, fishing trails, hiking and biking trails (the extensive Northshore Trail), Twin Coves Marina, and the Rockin’ S Bar and Grill. The park also includes Hippy Point Campground, offering a number of easy-access campsites that can be reserved for a small fee.

The location of Murrell Park on the north shore of Lake Grapevine
The park is served by an extensive network of trails and roads

The eastern part of the park is closed to automobile traffic due to flood damage dating back several years (or even decades, depending on the source). Even so, much of that part of the park remains accessible on foot and by bike, possibly increasing its appeal to the more adventurous.

2019 Flooding as documented by the Dallas Morning News

The park is also a fantastic place to pursue nature photography, and as you might imagine, the prospect of pictures is what piqued my interest in making a visit. The red, rocky shores of Grapevine Lake are unique in the metroplex, and very photogenic. The lake is long and narrow, and is oriented longitudinally in a generally east-west direction. This orientation contributes mightily to the prospect of both sunrises and sunsets that are amazingly beautiful. The golden light of dusk and dawn cause the landscape to illuminate in magical colors. When the cool air of autumn moves in over the warm waters of the lake, fog banks ensue, and the atmospherics can be stunning. Additionally, the trees on shore can always be counted on to explode in autumn colors as fall sets in.

Many species of wildlife call Murrell Park home. Numerous varieties of waterfowl (occasionally unique and rare species) can be found in the waters just off shore. Fishing raptors such as Ospreys and the American Bald Eagle hunt these waters. On shore, the woods and meadows of the park provide habitat to a virtually complete checklist of North Texas mammals species. In particular, a very healthy herd of White-tailed Deer lives in Murrell Park. In fact, the park is an excellent place to observe these charming animals when they are most active at dawn and dusk.

This autumn is not the first time I’ve stopped by Murrell Park, but it had been a very long time since my last visit. It was way back in the early 1980s that I used to enjoy fishing on the north shore of the Grapevine Lake. Back then I had a select few favorite spots that frequented, and I never ventured into the rest of the park. When I came back this fall, I did my best to rectify that oversight. Predictably, it took me a few visits to get comfortable with the layout of the park and how best to navigate it. Most of my visits began very early in the morning, before first light, and I usually stayed for three to four hours. Over the course of October and November I stopped by on almost a weekly basis, and took many photographs. See below for a selection of my favorites…

Most days I arrived at the park well before dawn
Sunrises were always stunning
Sunrise through a tangle of vines
Deer are plentiful in the park, but sometimes you have to keep a sharp lookout
A doe moving through the forest
You never know where a deer might turn up!
American Coots with an American Crow sentry
Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk
A doe with her yearling
The deer were out in force on this morning
Another beautiful sunrise
one of the meadows on the east end of the park
The first light of morning
A handsome buck roaming the park in the early hours
Fox Squirrels are plentiful in Murrell Park
A small herd of deer browsing along the shoreline
Two fawns nursing their mother
In another part of the park, a herd of deer grazing by the road
Crossing the road. Always be prepared to stop!
A foggy morning
Fog banks on the lake
Sunrise on the park’s east side
Golden rays of early morning light
Murrell Park has many beautiful wooded areas
A hidden Cove
A lone tree on the red, rocky shore
Sunlight shining through dense vegetation
An American Crow with a great prize
A gaggle of Canada Geese on the lake
An Osprey surveying the lake from a high branch
Eastern Meadowlark
An Eastern Bluebird in the parking lot
A pretty doe crossing the street
A young button buck
Sunrise on a cloudy morning
Murrell Park Rd, the main drive through the park
The Lakeside Tower building on the horizon
The Lakeside Tower condo building
Sunrise at the lake
A young buck feeding on acorns near the road
A doe and fawn share an oak leaf
Spotted from the road
White-tailed Deer can be found in all parts of the park
A one-antlered buck huffing on a cold morning
An American Crow surveying his domain
Sunrise over a forgotten cove
Early morning atmospherics
A view of the lake appears through the trees
A grove of trees near the shore
A big buck bedded down on a cold, misty morning
A closer look!
Red rocks and red leaves
The colors of early autumn
The lake hidden behind an thick fog bank
A doe and her fawn
These two always stay close together
Warm light of mid-morning
A beautiful autumn morning at Murrell Park
Fog reveals the location of minor coves
Sunrise over a central meadow
Only a minor obstacle for this high-jumping deer
Deer can be found on the short grass of the campground on some mornings
Deer chasing and playing in the campgrounds

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