At just over 26,000 acres, Caddo Lake, draped in Spanish moss and dotted with bald cypress trees, is a paddlers dream come true. A literal labyrinth of marshes, bayous, and quiet ponds, its waterways play host to 71 species of fish, numerous creatures that make it their home, and of course alligators, who also make it their hunting grounds. But this doesn’t shine a dim light on Caddo Lake nor the Texas state park in which it lies. Quite the opposite, in fact, the park attracts many a family, fisherperson, canoer, and kayaker out to discover this treasure in East Texas.
Things to Do
Epic Formula for Pleasure at Texas Treasure, Caddo Lake State Park
Averaging approximately nine feet in depth (except the bayous, which can measure twenty), Caddo Lake straddles the Texas-Louisiana state line, forming the centerpiece of the state park, situated on Big Cypress Bayou. Scientists concur that the lake was formed when flood water backed up into the Cypress Bayou watershed after being blocked by an enormous log jam on the Red River known as the “Great Raft.” In the early 1900’s, the lake was artificially dammed when oil was found, and again for flood control in 1914. Named for Native Americans that once inhabited the area (evidence has shown hunters and gatherers inhabited Caddo Lake at least 12,000 years ago) in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) who constructed the first Caddo Lake State Park edifices, with Company 889 working through 1933 and Company 857 through 1934-1937.
Such historic log cabins, as well as the group recreation hall, are still in use today, including picnic sites and trails that were built and mapped by the CCC. Upon arrival at the park’s headquarters, visitors will see all that the park has to offer, including year-round canoe and kayak rentals and access to many Texas Parks and Wildlife paddling trails. Surrounded by floating American lotus and lily pads, it’s hard not to feel peaceful, serene, and only slightly transported back in time as you explore the park’s quiet, backwaters. Herons and kingfishers fly overhead; paddlers can see beavers, snakes, and turtles, and enjoy the sounds of nature all around them.