The Ultimate Guide to Caddo Lake State Park, Texas

There may be no more unique state park in Texas than the beautiful and otherwordly Caddo Lake.

Caddo Lake State Park has an immense amount of character that sets it apart from many other places, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most unexpected places to visit in Texas.

As you drive into the park, you seem to enter an entirely new world that is bursting at the seams with new places to discover and exciting things to do.

Planning a trip to Caddo Lake in Texas?

Here’s what to know before you go!

front of a gray canoe caddo lake

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A Brief History of Caddo Lake State Park

Layer upon layer of history can be found throughout Texas’ Caddo Lake State Park, and as you take a step back and explore, you will begin to learn something new around every turn.

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Walking through the wilderness where Caddo people once roamed is far more exciting than learning from any textbook.

The Caddo Lake area is special because of its rich history and significance that is still important today.

what to do caddo lake texas sunset with bald cypress trees

Around campfires, stories still flow through the air about how Caddo Lake came to be and how it was utilized.

Many tell stories of a strong wind that collided with the water, therefore forming what Caddo is today.

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As with many Texas state parks, Caddo Lake State Park was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The CCC was specifically created to aid families during the Great Depression.

Men would be hired to plant trees, build trails, and construct buildings, and many State Park buildings all over Texas were made by the CCC.

small abandoned white building overlooking tx caddo lake

Accommodations at Caddo Lake

Why rent a hotel room when you can sleep underneath the stars at Caddo Lake State Park.

Whether you want to bring your tent, RV, or rent a cabin, Caddo has a variety of accommodations to suit you and your family’s needs.

If you want to bring your RV, fifth wheel, or trailer, you have a couple of options to choose from.

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With several electric and water sites, you can book a site for the weekend without any issue by utilizing the camp bathrooms.

Also, if you need sewer hookups for your camper, there are multiple full hook-up campsites for you to choose from.

Without a camper or RV, there are still plenty of options for you and your family to spend time at Caddo Lake State Park.

There are plenty of electric-only campsites for tent set up as well as various cabins and screen shelters to book for the weekend.

two people sitting in folding chairs at a campsite drinking coffee with a thermos between them

Cool Caddo Lake Hiking Trails

While the water is what Caddo Lake is known for, there are a few short hiking trails that you can choose from to explore.

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Caddo Forest Trail

This trail typically takes an hour to complete but immerses you in the woods that Caddo people once roamed.

It is important to note that while the trail is .7 miles, you will have to climb up and down steps, so planning accordingly is critical.

Pine Ridge Spur Trail

The Pine Ridge Trail is only .2 miles and simply serves as a connection between two trails.

trail at caddo lake texas with spanish moss dripping from trees

Pine Ridge Trail

Another .7 trail, the Pine Ridge Trail, takes you on an adventure through parts of Caddo Lake that are hard to see without setting foot on a trail.

While on the Pine Ridge trail, you are sure to see glimpses of wildlife and truly find yourself surrounded by nature.

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CCC Cut Through Trail

The Cut Through trail is exactly how it sounds and while on the trail, you will climb multiple steep staircases.

While this trail is short, it can be steep in parts, so knowing your limits is important.

young girl overlooking caddo lake from a boardwalk

The Best Things to Do at Caddo Lake State Park

Besides hiking on the various trails that Caddo Lake offers, there is a lot more to do within the boundaries of the park.

If you love to hunt for treasure, you can try your hand at geocaching, where you use coordinates to uncover different little items that people have left.

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You can also play a game of volleyball or basketball at the courts that are located within the park.

While getting out on the water is the most popular activity to do, you can also view plenty of wildlife from the shore.

white bird perched over the water at caddo lake

Many alligators call Caddo Lake home, so bring your binoculars to see if you can catch a glimpse of one in their natural habitat.

Besides alligators, there is plenty of waterfowl that you will see flying overhead or perched throughout Caddo Lake.

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Water sports are the most magical aspect of Caddo Lake, and you can bring your own kayak, canoe, or rent one from the park itself.

While you are visiting Caddo, make sure that getting out beneath the giant Cypress trees is one of your top priorities.

family in an inflatable kayak on caddo lake tx

Essentials Tips for Visiting Caddo Lake, Texas

Bring sunscreen.

Whether you decide to spend a day on Caddo Lake or you want to explore some of the trails, it is crucial to bring sunscreen.

Texas weather is known to change on a dime, and while it may be cooler when you arrive, it could be over 100 degrees the following day.

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Exploring Caddo Lake provides you with plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures, and being prepared will ensure you have a carefree trip.

If you head out on the water, make sure you bring sunscreen with you to add another coat as the day goes on.

small egret perched on a branch over caddo lake

Get on (but not in) the water.

One thing Caddo Lake is known for is the water that greets you as you head down the hill into the park.

The waters of Caddo Lake offer something for everyone to enjoy.

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Load up your boat to spend a day fishing in the various areas all over the lake, or load up your kayak for a truly unique experience.

The most unique aspect of Caddo Lake is the huge cypress trees that bellow out of the water and the blankets of Spanish moss that hang from their branches.

caddo lake texas as seen from the water. one of the best things to do caddo lake is to go kayaking on it

Follow safety requirements.

Remember that all watercraft are required to have a floatation device of some sort on board to ensure everyone is staying safe.

Watch out for poison ivy.

While hiking through the various trails around Caddo Lake State Park, make sure to keep your eyes open for poison ivy.

The oils of the poison ivy plant will cause an itchy rash on many people, so taking the necessary precautions is crucial.

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The best way to remember when looking out for poison ivy is leaves of three; let it be. Leaves of three growing on the ground or crawling on a vine up a tree is a surefire way to turn the other direction.

Another thing to look out for is a hairy stem or vine; Poison ivy has tendrils that often look like little pieces of hair.

If you do happen to run into poison ivy and start to develop a rash, calamine lotion can work wonders.

close up of a poison ivy plant

Don’t forget to look up.

While it may not sound like much, as you put your kayak into Caddo Lake, take a second to stop and look up.

As you look up, you are greeted by huge trees covered in moss that remind you just how amazing nature is.

Make sure to bring a waterproof camera to get some truly remarkable photographs.

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Enjoy a campfire while visiting Caddo Lake State Park.

While you are visiting Caddo Lake State Park, after a long day on the water, you can sit back and relax around a campfire. 

There is nothing quite like glancing at the stars overhead while gathered with people you adore around a crackling campfire.

4 marshmallows roasting over an open campfire

Pack plenty of water.

If you have been anywhere in Texas, you know that it can become hot very quickly.

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When you are out on the water or hiking, it is easy to forget to drink water, but doing so is essential.

Make sure to always have extra water with you as you go explore the best things to do in Caddo Lake State Park.

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