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Mission Tejas State Park

Walk in the footsteps of Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie along the Route 66 of pioneer Texas.

By Marian Edwards

Dappled by the filtered sunlight of the pine forest, Mission Tejas State Park offers campers and day visitors a quiet spot to enjoy the natural beauty of East Texas.

Among buildings constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, sits a commemorative representation of Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, the first Spanish mission in Texas. The historic building is available by reservation and enjoys a reputation as a site for romantic weddings in a rustic setting.

Explore the Rice Family log home, which was constructed between 1828-1838. The building was restored and moved to the park in 1974. The house served as a stopover for travelers on the old San Antonio road, and, as the Rice family — and the number of visitors — grew, the family added rooms to the original structure.

Campers and RVers will find shady campsites and group facilities, including a group picnic area and pavilion, as well as a group camping area and an amphitheater. Take advantage of the opportunities to fish, explore the pond’s aquatic life, hike the nature trail or enjoy demonstrations of activities such as blacksmithing and astronomy. The El Camino Real Archeology Tour combines a brief history of the area with a half-mile hike that follows the route Sam Houston, Cynthia Ann Parker, Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie rode along the El Camino Real de los Tejas, the Route 66 of pioneer Texas. The walking tour includes a visit to the site of the Nabedache Indian village.

Pick up the Forest Trail booklet that ties information about the natural world to the numbered stakes along the three-quarter-mile path. The booklet also lists birds that frequent the park. Nearly 4 miles of additional hiking trails within the park offer a more vigorous hike. The park’s flowering dogwood trees usually reach their peak in March, and the hardwoods bring bright colors to the woods in the fall.

Plan to visit Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site, only 6 miles from Mission Tejas. The historic site offers exhibits and interpretive trails through its Caddo dwellings and ceremonial areas, including two temple mounds, a burial mound, and a village area. The site is all archeological in nature and the mounds are historic structures. If you need a cooling dip, drive 12 miles to the swimming beach at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area (operated by the USDA Forest Service). The park’s one-acre fishing pond contains perch and bream; no license is needed to fish within the park before August 31.

Geocachers, take note: Mission Tejas State Park harbors five caches, the Pineywoods KM1 and KM2, the Hobbit, Kidz Cache, and the Lotto Ticket cache. Find more information on these caches at <www.geocaching.com>.

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