See related: Western Hill Country • Chalk Mountain Area • Highland Lakes Area
Start in Corsicana with a stop at Collin Street Bakery, famous for making the “world’s most widely distributed cake,” DeLuxe Fruitcake. The family-owned bakery has made this and plenty of other goodies, including pecan pie, for 117 years. Also worth a stop: the neoclassic Beaux Arts Navarro County Courthouse, built in 1905, with Ionic columns and stained-glass ceiling panels. The town is home to Cook Center Planetarium with a 60-foot screen and 200 seats. Then take I-45 south to Richland and Texas 14 to Mexia, enjoying blooms of Indian paintbrush, Mexican hat, horsemint, prairie verbena, and wild petunia.
Seven miles south of Mexia, Fort Parker State Park occupies a convergence of Blackland Prairie and Post Oak Savannah. Bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, winecups, Mexican hat, and groundsel bloom here, particularly around the entrance road. The park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and biking, as well as swimming, fishing, and canoeing on a lake created when the Civilian Conservation Corps dammed the Navasota River in the 1930s. Hiking trails trace both the north and south shore of the lake. Just south of the state park is Old Fort Parker, a replica of the one that housed the Parker family in the 1830s, when Comanche kidnapped young Cynthia Ann Parker, who eventually became mother of Chief Quanah Parker.
Return to Mexia on Texas 14 and turn west on Texas 171. Drive through Hubbard and Malone to Texas 22, just east of I-35 and Hillsboro. On this route, you’re likely to see milkweed, Engelmann’s daisy, Texas star, and pink evening primrose. Take Texas 22 east to Blooming Grove, a town of about 900 friendly people and a lot of wildflowers.
For information on Corsicana, call 903/874-4731; Fort Parker State Park, 254/562-5751; Old Fort Parker, 254/729-5253; Blooming Grove, 903/695-2711.
From the March 2013 issue.
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