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Ray Roberts Lake State Park

Local college students log on to the Internet while enjoying a lake view.

By John Meyer

For those who have great difficulty escaping the vortex of a fast-paced life in the big city, there is one less excuse for not getting away for some R&R. Ray Roberts Lake State Park sits approximately an hour from the Metroplex near Sanger, just off I-35. The park, which lies within the Cross Timbers region of the state, just to the edge of the Blackland Prairie, beckons with a fantastic array of amenities and activities. Two main units, the Johnson Branch and the Isle du Bois, and six satellite parks (Jordan Unit, Pecan Creek, Buck Creek, Pond Creek, Sanger and Elm Fork) along with a greenbelt corridor comprise this 6,600-acre escape.

As one of five parks in a pilot program to provide wireless Internet (aka wi-fi) access to visitors, you can still maintain that vital link to the civilized world, or perhaps work, while visiting. The technology has proven especially attractive to college students from Texas Woman’s University and University of North Texas in nearby Denton who come to look for a creative venue in which to study. The wi-fi access is available only at the Isle du Bois unit. The “hot” area is located in a 300-foot radius near the park store, extending all the way to the water at the swimming beach. Park manager Mark Stewart reports many requests for access in the campgrounds as well and hopes to expand to that area in the future if the pilot program is successful. Users with wireless-ready PCs can sign up on the spot once their laptop picks up the signal. Daily ($3.99), weekly ($14.95) or monthly ($24.95) rates are available for the service provided by Tengo Internet Services.

The units contain more than 65 miles of diverse trail ready for bikers, hikers and horseback riders. These trails are complemented by the Greenbelt Corridor, which contains another 10-mile meandering trail along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, which connects the park to the headwaters of Lake Lewisville.

Ten boat lanes provide access to 30,000-acre Lake Ray Roberts, which boasts a respectable 14.06-pound record for largemouth bass. There is also a lighted fishing pier near the park store at Isle du Bois. Other frequently caught species include bluegill, white bass, catfish and crappie. The marina, located at the Sanger Unit, sells everything from deli-type snacks to fuel to fishing licenses. Boat sales and repair are also available. Huck’s Catfish Restaurant is located adjacent to the marina, for a good dining option.

For overnighters, drive-up campsites are available along with RV hook-ups. “My favorite sites are the ones down by the lake, right on the water,” says Paula Couch, a Sanger resident and park regular. There are fewer of these, so be sure to ask at check-in for availability. Showers are available near the park store. With a variety of ways to unwind and multiple levels of comfort, Ray Roberts Lake State Park makes it difficult to find a good excuse to stay home on the weekend.

For more information, call (940) 686-2148 or visit <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/ray_roberts_lake/>

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