21 February, 2024

A Quick Guide to visit Caddo Lake State Park in East Texas

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Caddo Lake State Park is located near Karnack in east Texas. It is quite remote location, but this state park has one of the largest flooded Big cypress tree forest. 

This is one of the largest natural lakes and swamp land. The Gigantic Bald Cypress trees adorned with grey Spanish moss reflecting on the water is a beautiful scenery. 

If you search for photos of this state park in Google, you will be awed with the serene, mystic feeling you get watching them. The reflections of trees in water, the twisting lake in Bayou, and the Wild life around draws many tourists here.

 But, to enjoy the beauty of the lake, you should rent a canoe/ Kayak or signup for the guided boat tours.

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Here is a quick guide to Caddo Lake State Park

How to Reach?

Caddo Lake State park is 2.5 hrs drive from Dallas and 45 mins from Shrevport, Lousiana. 

Where to Stay?

Marshall is a small town with many good options to stay. This is budget friendly. You can also rent cabins inside the state park which you have to reserve ahead or get campsites. 

Jefferson, which is 45 mins from Caddo lake is popular as the most haunted town. There are many vintage and historic bed and breakfasts to stay here.

Boat Tours and Canoe/ Kayak Rentals:

If your accommodation has kayaks already, it's great. If not, checkout Riverbend Outfitters or Johnsons Ranch Marina for rentals. 

If you are like me, who is not good at kayaking, you can try booking a tour with Richard. We contacted Rich through email and blocked our tour ahead of time. It was around $40 per adult and $20 per kid in 2023. 

The tour was amazing. We stayed in marshall and reached the Shady Glade Marina by 10am. The tour is 1.5 hours. Rich explained about the geography of land, how  the swamp was formed, how this part was covered in water and used for cargo transport, the trees, the wild life, movies that were filmed there and so many interesting facts.

Rich also does photography tours. This lake changes a lot with seasons. We visited in the late fall, still there is little orange on many trees. The bald cypress trees look mystic with Spanish moss on them. We saw many birds as well on our tour, but no alligators (kids little disappointed).

We would love to visit this place again in spring as we can see the whole lake filled with blooming lotuses everywhere. That would be a beautiful scene to watch.

In summers, it will become hot and humid. This might not be the best time to visit. 

They provide map to the people who kayak/ canoe. But these trails or pathways on water are not easy to follow using map. Be extra careful so that you don't get lost.


Caddo lake State Park has a few great trails along the lake and around. 

Caddo Forest trail is 0.7 mile moderate trail that goes through the woods. Don't forget to carry bug spray.

Pine ridge loop is 0.7 mile moderate hike on the hills. 

Saw mill pond:

One of the must see locations in Caddo lake state park is Saw mill pond. You can walk along the wooden broadwalk to view the lake, and wild life like turtles and birds from here. This is a good location for pictures. 

Activities around Caddo Lake:

Caddo lake national wildlife refuge is home to 400 yr old bald cypress trees, many bird, mammal and reptile species. They have hiking trails as well with 9 mile hike to Wildlife observation point. 

You can try ghost tours at Jefferson, which is around 30 mins from Caddo Lake. Enoch's stomp Vineyard and Winery is just 20 mins away from Jefferson downtown.

Broken bow is a nice tourist town with a lake, fishing and unique stores and homemade ice cream. 

Daingerfield State park is 1 hr away. It's beautiful to hike during the fall season. The fall foliage around the lake is great.

Tyler state park is also famous for fall season, which is around 2 hrs from Caddo lake.

Food near Caddo Lake state Park:

Shady Galde marina has a basic restaurant overslooking the lake, which is great. 

Big Pines lodge in Karnack is famous for cat fish and Jalapeno hushpuppies. Bayou landing serves cajun fare. Riverbend Restaurant on Caddo is great place to dine with lake views. 

McGarity's Restaurant and Saloon is a bar with lunch and dinner options at Jefferson, known for excellent service. 

So, that's about Caddo lake. See you in my next travelogue about Daingerfield State park.

Until next time,

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