Often overlooked for the deserts of West Texas or the rolling hills of Central Texas, the beautiful East Texas state parks boast towering pines, reflective waters, and often amazing wildlife.
While Houston, Austin, and Dallas are often the first places in Texas people think to visit, don’t discount the beauty that the Pineywoods and other gorgeous landscapes available in state parks in East Texas offer.
East Texas is different from many areas in the state because of the unique landscape it provides.
As you drive through East Texas, you are greeted by dogwoods, oaks, pines, and more that create a beautiful backdrop for any adventure.
While some places in Texas don’t offer a ton of fall color, East Texas is typically painted with reds, oranges, and yellows as fall arrives.
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The best way to enjoy the great outdoors that this beautiful region offers is by heading to one of the magnificent state parks in East Texas.
Each of these TX state parks has its own unique qualities that make spending an entire day outdoors easy.
Also, before you go: remember that no matter where you explore in Texas, always bring water as temperatures change frequently and some days have extremely hot temperatures!
That being said, here are the best East Texas state parks to visit this year.
Caddo Lake State Park
Right outside the delightful town of Jefferson lies a park that has a strong reputation for being a favorite of many.
As you drive down the large hill of the park, you quickly become welcomed by cypress trees that are positively coated in dripping Spanish moss.
Grab your kayak and pull it into the waters of Caddo Lake to truly immerse yourself into the world of Caddo Lake State Park.
As you paddle through miles of water, you can look up to be greeted by Spanish moss that trails from the highest points of the trees all the way down to the water.
Kayaking in Caddo Lake transports you into an entirely new world and reminds you just how magical nature truly is.
While kayaking and water sports are a huge draw of Caddo Lake, you can also take to the trails in search of the wildlife that calls this East Texas state park home.
Grab a comfy cabin to have a weekend in nature or sleep under the stars while nestled by a warm campfire.
No matter how you choose to experience Caddo Lake, you are sure to leave with memories that have you coming back for more.
Tyler State Park
Right in the heart of East Texas lies Tyler State Park.
Tyler State Park draws you in from the very beginning as you drive down the windy roads through the towering pines on either side.
As you drive, around nearly every turn you are greeted by more and more natural beauty.
The gem of the park is the 64-acre spring-fed lake that welcomes you with its crystal waters and unwavering beauty.
This lake allows you to take to the water to experience Tyler State Park from an entirely new vantage point.
Paddleboats, kayaks, and more are the perfect way to get onto the water and be truly engulfed in the nature that surrounds you.
If getting on the water is not quite your thing you can always try your hand at trying to catch one of the fish that populate this beautiful lake.
A day relaxing with a fishing pole in hand is the perfect way to spend a day in East Texas.
With over 13 miles of trails, you can hike part of your day and get a workout in and then dip in the cool waters that the lake provides.
Spend a whole weekend at Tyler State Park by packing your tent or renting a relaxing cabin or screened shelter.
Cooper Lake State Park
Cooper Lake has plenty of room to enjoy the great outdoors with your friends and family.
Because of the size of the park, you can have plenty of space to enjoy yourself without feeling crowded with people.
Cooper Lake offers you plenty of things to do to spend your day outside, soaking up nature.
Take to the waters to fish and swim or go on a hike to explore nature.
Try and catch a glimpse of the wildlife that calls Cooper Lake home while you are exploring the miles of trails.
If you love horseback riding and you have a horse, there are plenty of equestrian trails for you to enjoy.
Besides trails, there are equestrian and standard campsites that will allow you to turn your Cooper Lake State Park adventure into an entire weekend of fun.
Daingerfield State Park
Daingerfield State Park is another East Texas state park that has plenty to do and allows you a variety of options to soak up the outdoors.
As you enter the park, you will find yourself surrounded by towering trees that seem to whistle as the wind blows through them, providing a beautiful backdrop for a day outdoors.
Pines, dogwoods, and oaks surround you all day long as you hike, fish, and swim in the 80-acre lake of Daingerfield State Park.
During the months of March through November, you can even try your hand at dancing on the outdoor pavilion.
Every Saturday night during these months, karaoke and live music will bellow through the night air.
Purtis Creek State Park
Purtis Creek State Park is a fisherman’s paradise, and for good reason.
This 355-acre lake boasts bass, catfish, and crappie and has fishermen coming from miles around to see just what they can catch.
The park lends rods and fishing gear and provides you plenty of spots to fish from the bank, out on the water, and from their multiple fishing piers.
As with any state park in Texas, you don’t need a fishing license to fish here, but you will need a pass to fish overnight if you want to try your hand at fishing in the dark.
Purtis Creek State Park will allow 50 boats on the water and offers you a few trails to choose from to hike.
Huntsville State Park
With over 20 miles of hiking trails winding through the Pineywoods and plenty of fishing and camping options, Huntsville State Park is a beautiful and classic state park in East Texas to visit.
Boating on Lake Raven, camping on the shores of the lake, and hiking trails built by the CCC are among the best things to do in Huntsville State Park.
Peaceful and quiet, this is a fantastic place to feel like you’re getting away from it all while actually only traveling just off of I-45 in Huntsville.
Martin Creek State Park
Martin Creek State Park is an excellent choice for year-round swimming as the nearby power plant keeps the waters warm throughout the year.
This state park is a hidden gem with a lake full of crappie, yellow catfish, sunfish, tilapia, and more.
With a variety of fish you can catch, the possibilities are endless for the fun you can have at Martin Creek State Park.
During your trip to Martin Creek State Park, you may catch a fishing tournament where contestants bring in fish of all types and sizes.
After you spend your day on the water, you can take to the four miles of trails for a view of nature and a great end-of-day workout.
Lake Bob Sandlin State Park
Lake Bob Sandlin State Park is home to a massive 9,000-acre lake that fishermen flock to from all over Texas to try their hand at catching a gem.
In addition, you can catch some oranges and yellows paint the forest of Lake Bob Sandlin State Park during fall foliage season in Texas.
While you are visiting this state park in East TX, you can spend your day fishing for bass or catfish or sit back and admire the plants and wildlife.
Lake Bob Sandling is a combination of a variety of ecosystems, providing you with plenty to see.
Make your trip into an entire weekend by reserving a comfortable cabin or screened shelter or relaxing under the stars with a tent site with electricity and water.
Mission Tejas State Park
Mission Tejas State Park is a park that is laden with history, allowing you to experience nature and learn something new at the same time.
In this park, you will see aspects that show the attempts of Spaniards trying to claim this area from Native Americans, as well as a log cabin that was built with tremendous efforts.
Decide to soak up the crisp cool air on the eight miles of trails where you can hike and see various species of plants and animals.
You can also decide to set up camp for the night by renting a site with electricity and water.
Dogwood trees bloom in the spring, painting the area with beautiful colors.
Bring your fishing pole to fish at the nearby pond and where you can sit back and relax on a day surrounded by nature.
Mission Tejas State Park is one of the best East Texas state parks for those that love both history and nature, allowing them to combine two great loves.
Atlanta State Park
In the far east corner of Texas lies Atlanta State Park.
Atlanta State Park has a reservoir that is over 33,000 acres and is home to some giant catfish, making it a popular place to go fishing in East Texas.
Many people travel here to catch the large fish that call the reservoir home or escape from the hustle and bustle of life.
Besides fishing, you can hike over four miles of trails and then end the day gathered around a campfire at one of the 58 campsites that the park offers.
Atlanta State Park is a perfect way to spend the day and provides plenty of spaces to enjoy a picnic outdoors.