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If you’re looking for a true American adventure, then Caddo Lake in Texas is an incredible state park with a difference. Covering 25,400 acres, not including the surrounding bayou, Caddo stretches along the borders of Texas and Louisiana. You can spend days exploring the maze of waters, overshadowed by tall cypress trees, heavy with moss. There are 46 different areas around the lake where you can camp, and a number of historic cabins for hire. You can easily spend your days hiking, canoeing, fishing, and boating through the waterways and see some amazing wildlife.
What to Take on Your Adventure
When you are camping in the wild, it is important that you pack for all weather conditions. Waterproof items are essential—even in the summer months. Your equipment should include a flashlight, cooking utensils, and a camping stove.
One of the most versatile pieces of equipment is a good camping knife, which can be used not only for food preparation, but also for cutting vines attached to your canoe, or paring wood. The best knife for camping will be one with a stainless steel blade so that it is completely rust-proof. You don’t have to take your own canoe or boat if you are visiting Caddo Lake, because there are several places where you can hire one. It is advisable to take your own personal floatation device, however.
Spending Time on the Water
The first thing you need to consider before you go out on the lake or into the waterways is alligator safety. There are gators that live in the park—this is why you should only swim in the designated areas. Gators are more active at dawn and dusk, so swimming is prohibited after sunset. Never feed or harass an alligator, and if you see one near a designated swimming area, you should inform a park employee immediately.
Canoeing and kayaking are allowed throughout the Caddo Lake State Park. There are more than 50 miles of trails, but it is advisable to plan your route before you head off, rather than simply meandering through the waters.
Hiking Caddo Lake
Hiking the state park is a great way of seeing the incredible wildlife. There are some great trails starting at Big Cypress Bayou and Saw Mill Pond that will take you through the dense forest areas and up Pine Ridge Spur.
Aside from alligators, Caddo Lake is also home to turtles, snakes, frogs, mink, raccoons, beavers, squirrels, nutria, white-tailed deer, and armadillos. Look out for some of the native birds when you are hiking, which include the elusive American Kestrel and Pileated Woodpeckers.
If you are an experienced hiker, you don’t have to follow one of the trails, but it is advisable for you to take a GPS device, as the forests around the bayou can be very disorientating, especially towards sunset when the shadows are long.
Caddo Lake is a haven for wildlife, and the perfect place for vacation if you like the great outdoors. You can have a fantastic Texas adventure out in the wilderness, camping underneath the stars.