Choke Canyon State Park is a bit of a drive from either San Antonio or Corpus Christi. Seemingly in the middle of not-a-lot, the reservoir was built in 1981 and has covered the former small town of Calliham. The reservoir is near the confluence of three rivers: the Frio, Atascosa, and Nueces rivers. The dam itself is fed from the Frio river and was built to provide water to Corpus Christi.
To get to the park, from I-37, go West on SH 72. You will pass by the Valero Refinery, which coincidentally has a Valero gas station across from it with the cheapest and freshest gas I have seen in Texas. Continue on 72 past the Park’s South entrance (not a lot there), and past the Federal Correctional Institution, then the park entrance will be on your right.
The correctional institute is run by the FBI. I think when they build federal prisons, they look at a map and find spots as far away from civilization as possible. They got this location just right; there is not a lot out here.
The park offers a lot of activities such as fishing, boating, birding, and hiking. It even has a few small dorm-like cabins for rent:
When I was there, I saw a few families in the rental cabins. The cabins do have A/C, but there is a shared shower/toilet facility. There were also a fair number of RVs in RV sites. This is a quiet place away from civilization.
There is a $5 day pay fee that you can either book online or when you get to the entrance. This park does not get too crowded at all. I was the only person hiking when I went. Most others I saw were boating, fishing, or having family time from their RVs.
Birding seems to be popular too. There is a birding blind near the end of the road that has been fixed up with water sources to attract the birds.
The park does have alligators, and I read that this is the western-most domain of alligators in Texas. Swimming is allowed throughout the park, but like I said, there are alligators. I did not swim.
Choke Canyon does have an interesting history! Here is a great history of the area before the dam was constructed.
There are just a few hiking/running trails that extend through the park, end to end. Here is the park’s trail guide. To the smell of mesquite from the abundant mesquite trees, I started at the 75 acre lake parking area and then ran all the park’s trails to end up at the North end of the Calliham Unit peninsula.
With an out and back on Bird Trail, and an out and back to the South boat launch, this route was 3.8 miles. There is also a trail to the Youth Group Camping Area, which runs from the far end of the parking area at 75 acre lake. If you walk or run to that camping area and back, you will add another mile to the route.
The 75 acre lake parking area and also the north end camping area offer restrooms. The north end camping area also has a few showers for public use.
From the boat launch, I did see some alligators in the distance. I also heard something heavy moving in the underbrush at one point. I bent down to get a picture of whatever it was, and found myself eye to eye with a javelina.
The trails are well marked and easy to follow. Trails are flat and would make for an easy mountain bike ride also. There is some overhanging brush here and there, and I had to avoid a few large cobwebs that spanned the trail.
Overall, this is a nice quiet park that is worth a visit if you are in the area. A place to get away from civilization.