Caddo Lake State Park, located in the Piney Woods region of Texas, is one of our favorite state parks to visit in the Lone Star State.
The highlight of this park is the beautiful Caddo Lake.
The lake is named after the native Caddo people that settled here.
The lake is a protected wetland and encompasses a unique environment of cypress trees and the marshes.
On a visit to Caddo Lake State Park, you can admire its unique landscape and explore the waters via kayaks.
Here is a detailed guide to exploring the state park.
Where is Caddo Lake State Park?
Caddo Lake State Park is located in the town of Karnack, in eastern Texas.
It is located near the Texas Louisiana border and is one of the popular tourist destinations in this region.
Caddo Lake State Park is located hours away from Houston and hours away from Dallas.
Things to do at Caddo Lake State Park
Here are some of our favorite things to do at this amazing state park in Texas.
Enjoy the hiking trails in the park
Hiking is one of our favorite ways to enjoy this amazing nature preserve.
The park has a large trail system that is open year round for hiking.
Some of our favorite trails in the park include the Caddo Forest Trail and the Pine Ridge Loop Trail.
Paddle the water trails on the lake
One of the best ways of exploring this unique landscape is from the water.
Caddo Lake State Park has over 50 miles of paddling trails for visitors.
In fact, this is one of the best places to enjoy kayaking in Texas.
The state park allows visitors to bring their own kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards.
Or you can even rent kayaks and canoes at the park.
Caddo Lake State Park has many boat ramps as well as the Caddo Lake Marina that is open year round to launch the kayaks.
Go fishing at Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake is one of the premier fishing lakes in Texas.
The most popular species here are crappie, white bass, largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish, carp and bream.
Fish from the shoreline or rent a boat at one of the marinas on Caddo Lake for your fishing adventure!
Enjoy excellent bird watching
Caddo Lake also offers great waterfowling opportunities as well as a nature trail and birding at this park.
Along with the waterfowl, birders can see eagles, wide turkey, owls, and egrets in the park.
The bird list at Caddo Lake is impressive with over 200 different species of birds sighted here!
The best area to spot birds as well as wildlife is Saw Mill Pond.
Go wildlife watching in the area
Caddo Lake is also excellent for wildlife watching.
The lake’s unique environment is home to alligators, beavers, turtles, and river otters.
On the shores, hikers can see white-tailed deer, racoons, armadillos, and bobcats.
The wildlife is most active during early morning or late evening.
Bring along a pair of binoculars for birding and wildlife viewing.
Fun fact: Did you know that several Bigfoot sightings in Texas have been reported near Caddo Lake?
See a stunning sunset at Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake is a nature lover’s and photographer’s delight.
The picturesque lake is full of Spanish moss draping the bald cypress trees.
It looks stunning in winter when a thick mist covers the lake as well as at sunrise and sunset.
Enjoying a beautiful sunset at Caddo Lake is one of the most romantic things to do in Texas.
Understand Caddo Lake’s history
Native legends say that a great earthquake took place several years ago to punish a Caddo Chief for disobeying the Great Spirit.
This earthquake formed Caddo Lake; the theory has been verified by geologists.
Another explanation is that the lake was formed due to the Great Raft, which was a vast log jam of the Red River in Louisiana.
The discovery of oil under Caddo Lake brought over water oil rigs and damaged the environment.
The state park was established to preserve the fragile environment from further destruction.
You can learn all about the history of the area at the Park Headquarters.
Know the geology of the lake
Caddo Lake has a unique environment of cypress tree marshes and is filled with bayous and slow moving sloughs.
The lake is close to 20 feet at its deepest point, while the average depth is 8-10 feet.
The park headquarters also has exhibits about the lake’s geology.
You can also buy souvenirs at the park store.
Camp on the shores of Caddo Lake
The state park offers primitive camping on beautiful secluded sites on the shore as well as RV electric hookups and tent sites at the campgrounds.
We recommend reserving them in advance as Caddo Lake is a popular hiking spot in Texas.
Or stay in a historic cabin on the lake
If you want some more amenities, several cabins are also available for rent at Caddo Lake State Park.
These rustic wood and stone cabins were built by the CCC in the 1930s and are still in excellent condition.
While you are there, don’t forget to visit the Recreation Hall built by the CCC.
Enjoy Caddo Lake in different seasons
Caddo Lake State Park is one of our favorite state parks to visit in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom.
The lotus flowers also bloom amongst the Lily pads on the lake, making the park charming.
Fall is another great time to visit.
The cypress trees turn red and orange and look beautiful on the lake side.
The peak color occurs between mid to late November.
For many Texans, Caddo Lake is the favorite place to see fall colors in the Lone Star State.
Become a Junior Ranger at the park
Like most Texas parks, kids can become Junior Rangers at Caddo Lake State Park.
Make sure to get their explorer kit from the Visitor Center and get the Junior Ranger badge on return.
Caddo Lake State Park hours and fees
The park is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
The peak tourist season is from March to November.
Entry fees are $4 per adult while children are free.
Things to do near Caddo Lake State Park
There are several nearby attractions that you can explore on a trip to Caddo Lake.
Here are our favorites.
Take a boat tour of the lake
While the state park doesn’t offer tours, you will find several boat tours of the Big Cypress Bayou and the swamps in Karnack.
On the tour, you will explore the lake and surrounding habitat in a pontoon.
The tours are an hour long and a great way to explore the area.
Some of the popular boat tour operators include Big Cypress Tours, Captain Ron’s Swamp Tours, and Caddo Outback Tours.
Stroll the streets of Karnack
Karnack is the gateway to Caddo Lake.
You can also take boat tours here or just walk around the town on your trip.
Hike the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge is free to visit and open from sunrise to sunset.
The refuge has a 9 mile long shoreline trail which is excellent for wildlife watching and birding.
In addition to hiking trails, The refuge also has several areas designated for mountain biking through many scenic spots.
Visit the town of Uncertain
Uncertain, Texas is also great for taking boat tours of Caddo Lake or to go hunting for waterfowl.
The town is also great for enjoying southern food and shopping for antiques.
Explore the attractions in Jefferson
Historic Jefferson located on the shores of Caddo Lake makes an excellent day trip from Caddo Lake.
The town has plenty of tourist attractions from carriage rides in downtown to exploring Civil War era sites.
In fact, Jefferson is one of the best small towns to visit in Texas.
Tour the Starr Family Home State Historic Site
The Starr Family Home State Historic Site is located in Marshall Texas about 30 miles from Caddo Lake State Park.
At the site you can see Greek Revival style home of the political Starr Family of Texas.
Caddo Lake is an amazing fun destination in East Texas.
It is perfect for kids, families, as well as couples.
We recommend visiting Caddo Lake State Park on your next weekend vacation in Texas.