Possum Kingdom Lake

 

The music of the 1990s left a mark on me. Classic one-hit wonders, the explosion of grunge (and its slow-motion crash), beats fueled by the beef between the East and West coasts—I loved it all, but alternative rock was my favorite. Enter The Toadies and their 90s monster hit “Possum Kingdom.”

Ah… the 90s. Anyway, I had no idea where that song got its name and I never really thought about it. In an era that brought us song titles like Bullet with Butterfly Wings, Machinehead, and Stinkfist, I barely noticed when I heard the DJ on Chicago’s Q101 say “Possum Kingdom.” So this brief rant begs the question: What the hell is a Possum Kingdom?

Spoiler: it’s a lake.

Possum Kingdom Lake is as beautiful as the Toadies’ lyrics are creepy. Located about 1.5 hours west of Fort Worth, Texas, Possum Kingdom is a man-made lake (really a reservoir) fed by the Brazos River. It was created in the 1930s when the Brazos River Authority built a dam.

Lake Bend
One of the many islands of Possum Kingdom Lake

Booorrrinnnggg! Seriously though, is there anything more boring then thinking about dams? The Toadies didn’t write that song about a dam. Or maybe they did. I really don’t know what the fuck that song is about.

The Legend

Here’s a pic of a sign that tells you how PK got its name.

Legend of PK
The Legend of Possum Kingdom’s Name

Too long? Can’t read it on your phone? Hate signs? Here you go: Some Russian dude named Ike immigrated to America in 1906. He moved down to Texas where he made a living trading fur and hide. Ike’s favorite suppliers came from the Palo Pinto hills and often sold him possum pelts. Whenever Ike saw them he’d say “here are the boys from the Possum Kingdom.”

Oh, was that not… interesting enough for you? Because I would love to make up some bullshit history about how the area was named after an ancient Possum empire ruled by the conflicted Opossimus Marsupialus for many years until it was eventually weakened by internal strife that culminated in a possum civil war that left thousands dead and their little possum economy in ruins thus paving the way for the possum society’s complete annihilation by Visigoth—I mean European—fur trappers, but that wouldn’t be true now would it?

Redbird Landing Trail
Redbird Landing Trail

Regardless how this gem got its awesome name, Possum Kingdom Lake is a gorgeous piece of Texas. With over 300 miles of shoreline and numerous limestone cliffs, PK is a huge tourist attraction and spring/summer break destination. It has played host to numerous events like a giant annual 4th of July fireworks show and even Red Bull’s Cliff Diving World Series.

PK is a great place to party, but I took a day trip out there to enjoy nature, not see bros chug light beers on a fleet of pontoon boats blasting Cardi B. That would have to be my one complaint about the new hiking trails set up around PK: you can hear everything from the lake.

cactus patch
Cactus Patch

It wasn’t that bad though. I hiked roughly 7 miles and the only places the noise was really noticeable were near the various overlooks. Sound travels well in PK and that’s not something that can be helped. It’s till quieter than the city though so I definitely got what I was looking for.

Back to the hiking trails—they’re awesome! I hiked Redbird first and then I did the one across the street that loops through Johnson’s Peak. Highly recommend them both. I’ll say this though: bring plenty of water and make sure you wear good hiking boots. Some parts of these trails get straight primitive and there are loose rocks everywhere.

You Gotta Go!

That’s really the only thing left to say. PK Lake is a diamond in the rough. Surrounded by hundreds of miles of prairie, it’s an oasis on the plains. It has something for everybody. Swimming, fishing, hiking, camping, cliff diving, and broing out are just a short list. There are also a lot of unique restaurants run by locals who know how to earn your business. No complaints, all praise.

On a clear night, they say you can hear the ghostly battle cry of Opossumus Marsupialus.

JK.

PK Selfie
Picture of me (not a possum)

Author: Mat J Author

Author of The Lives of Dogs: An Average Soldier's Tale and Books of the Forgotten. Interests include traveling and blogging. Available for freelance writing assignments and guest blogging.

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