Daingerfield State Park
Pileated woodpeckers and a pristine forest are just two highlights of this East Texas treasure.
By Marian Edwards
Wherever you live in Texas, it’s worth the fuel to make the drive to the Texas/Arkansas border for a visit to Daingerfield State Park. Located southwest of Texarkana, the park is forested in loblolly and shortleaf pines, oaks, maples and sweetgums, dogwoods, redbud trees, and wisteria and is situated on 80-acre Lake Daingerfield. The spring-fed lake is clear enough for scuba diving and popular among anglers for bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish and chain pickerel.
Nature trails border the lake, and alert hikers may spot white-tailed deer pausing for a drink, drowsing turtles, red-cockaded woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, ducks, geese, squirrels, armadillos and the occasional copperhead snake. The fall colors at Daingerfield State Park are breathtaking when the hardwood trees contrast with the dark evergreens. Nature pulls out the stops again in the spring when the rolling hills are blooming with wisteria vines, redbuds and dogwoods. The friendly staff at the park will arrange tours with the park’s interpretive specialist by request, or you might be so fortunate that you receive a campsite visit from Park Ranger Tad “Tater” Wallace, who will regale you with hilarious stories of dumpster-diving raccoons and other tales of the park.
A picnic by the lake’s swimming area with its floating platform can be combined with playground time or fishing from the pier. Canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available to rent from March to October for an excursion on the quiet lake, or bring your own boat to launch from the ramp. No fishing license is necessary when fishing from the bank or pier, but is required when fishing on the lake. A handy fish-cleaning facility is right at hand when you return with your catch.
Campsites offer everything from water and electricity tent sites to ten pull-through spaces with full hookups for RV use. The popular and completely refurbished cabins, built originally by the Civilian Conservation Corps, are a gentler way to rough it and are heated and air-conditioned. The full kitchen and living area are spacious and clean. Linens are furnished, but utensils, dishes and silverware are not. The cabins are popular with visitors year-round for their secluded location and cozy amenities, so be sure to make your reservations early. Groups can reserve the Bass Lodge, which will sleep 20 people in five bedrooms with two baths, and also utilize the amphitheater by the lake or the group picnic area. The old pavilion, with its vintage jukebox, is a popular spot for class reunions, school groups and, on occasion, even the local high school prom.
Load up the car and make the scenic trek to East Texas to experience this natural treasure.