Nestled on the eastern shore of Joe Pool Lake, Cedar Hill State Park is about twenty miles and two hundred years away from downtown Dallas. In addition to numerous outdoor activities, the Park has several nice RV campgrounds. So, it is an ideal place for RVers to go for a day or a weekend.
One of the newest Parks in the Texas Parks and Wildlife System opened in 1991 after the state spent almost ten years developing the land. Visitors can do more than experience Texas wilderness through activities like hiking and fishing. The one-of-a-kind Penn Farm Agricultural Center also helps visitors understand more about what life was once like in the rural hills outside Dallas.
If you want a break from the tranquil setting of the lake and park, there are numerous shopping and dining opportunities about five miles away. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex beckons some people as well.
RV Rentals in Cedar Hill State Park
Transportation in Cedar Hill State Park
Cedar Hill State Park’s GPS coordinates are 32° 36′ 21″ N, 96° 59′ 57″ W. For a GPS address, use 1570 West FM 1382, Cedar Hill, TX 75104. However, it’s probably simpler to find the Park the old-fashioned way. It is not easy to miss a lake as big as Joe Pool Lake.
From Interstate 20 west of Dallas, take Belt Line Road south past Camp Wisdom Road. Then, go right on West Spine Road and into the Park. From Highway 67 (Marvin D. Love Freeway/J. Elmer Weaver Freeway), go north on West FM 1382. Then, go left on West Spine Road and into the Park.
These routes are also good ways to reach the Cedar Ridge Preserve, which is on the other side of Belt Line Road. Several other parks are in the area as well. Lynn Creek Park. Loyd Park, and Estes Park are on the west side of Joe Pool Lake; Pleasant Valley Park, Britton Park, and the Tangle Ridge Golf Club are on the south side of the lake.
RV parking is available near Perch Pond at the far end of the Park. There is also a boat launch nearby. There is also ample parking near the Penn Farm and near the Joe Pool Marina boat launch.
Campgrounds and parking in Cedar Hill State Park
Campsites in Cedar Hill State Park
Coyote Crossing Camping Area
Most of the seventy-five RV sites at this campground are right on the lake. All sites have water and 20/30amp electricity hookups. There are two large restroom/shower areas, and the Talala Trail/Overlook is nearby.
Hog Wallow Camping Area
All fifty of these RV campsites have full hookups as well. Amenities include a dump station and restroom/shower facilities.
Lakeview Camping Area
One of the most popular RV camping areas in the Park has seventy-one full hookup sites. Some sites have 50amp connections. This camping area also has a dump station and a large play area. Nearby amenities include swimming areas, picnic tables, fishing areas, and a boat launch.
Eagle Ford Camping Area
Perhaps the most densely-packed camping area in the Park is great for people who want to be close to their neighbors. Eagle Ford has eighty full-hookup sites. Some have 50amp connections, and most have either 20amp or 30amp connections. There’s also a restroom/shower area in this campground.
Shady Ridge Camping Area
This 77-site campground is the most isolated one in the Park. Depending on your preference, that could be good or bad. The campground has a shower/restroom area.
Primitive Hike-In Campsites
The Duck Pond and Talala Trails each have tent-only primitive campsites. If you're looking for a real change of pace, park the RV and head out on foot.
Seasonal activities in Cedar Hill State Park
One of the highest points in the Park is accessible via a 1.5-mile, hiking-only loop trail. There is a parking area at the trailhead and a primitive campsite near the Overlook. There are some significant ups and downs as well as some overgrown sections, so this trail is moderately difficult. Hikers probably need hiking boots and some experience. The terrain is very diverse and the Overlook offers an excellent view of the Lake and the surroundings. Ranger-guided hikes are available as well. Nearby facilities include showers, restrooms, and a compost toilet. For the curious, “Talala” is Cherokee for “woodpecker.”
DORBA Loop Trails
Mountain bikers and hikers alike share this mixed-use trail. However, the Dallas Off-Road Bike Association designed these trails, so they are primarily for bikers. Many people consider the DORBA trails to be the best mountain bike trails in the state. Always remember that bikers travel clockwise and hikers travel counter-clockwise. That arrangement significantly reduces the number of accidents, because the trails are very windy. There is little cover, so during the summer the trail gets rather hot. The short loop covers 2.5 miles, the middle loop is seven miles, and the outer loop is ten miles. There is a parking, picnic, and play area at the head of the short loop trail.
Perhaps the best fishing pond in the Park for kids is also a very relaxing place for grown-ups. The pond is well-stocked with small bass, catfish, and of course, perch. There are also swimming fish and turtles for your viewing pleasure. There is no parking directly adjacent to Perch Pond, but the aforementioned DORBA lot is only a short walk away on a paved road.
Once you get past a small creek, this trail has a rather steep incline but it’s also wide and well-marked. Beginners can probably handle this trail, because it is essentially an unpaved uphill sidewalk. Watch out for small potholes and other minor obstacles. The view is nothing spectacular until you reach the overlook itself.
Okay, so maybe it’s more like a sand belt made primarily from gravel. But in North Texas, it qualifies as a beach. The lake is ideal for swimming as well. Nearby facilities include restrooms, barbecue grills, picnic areas, and a playground.
Duck Pond Trail
The shortest trail in the Park (0.68 miles) is a loop that runs from a parking area to the Duck Pond and back. The trail is quite wide and there are small bridges that carry hikers over the rough parts. Duck Pond is on the edge of the Park, so if your kids stay quiet (and that’s a big “if”), you might see deer and other wildlife come to the pond for a drink. There is also a primitive camping area near Duck Pond Trail.
Plum Valley Trail
Hikers may begin this one-mile trail at the Duck Pond primitive camping area or the developed Coyote Crossing camp area. The trail ends at the Plum Valley Overlook. This point offers a very nice view of the valley but not a great view of the lake.
Anglers in Texas State Parks do not need fishing licenses if they use a pier or a boat. There are several well-lit shoreline fishing areas. One is near Perch Pond, one is near Penn Farm, and one is near the Lakeview Camping Area. The lake is well-stocked with bass, catfish, and perch. Catfish are in the shallow waters and bass are in the deeper waters. Joe Pool Lake also has some timber remaining behind as the lake filled, and bass like to congregate there as well. Crappies bite well under the bridges, and the lake’s channels are good for catfish as well.
John Anderson Penn and his family settled in this area in 1854. That was just about the time that farm machinery replaced horses and mules. The Penns raised horses and cattle on this land as well. So, the farmhouse and other buildings offer excellent insight into what life was like between about 1850 and 1950. Self-guided tours are available seven days a week; guided tours are available by reservation. A half-mile loop trail goes around the complex.
Eleven strings of twelve panels produce thirty kilowatts of power and eliminate the CO2 equivalent of 3,500 gallons of gasoline. The panels are slightly elevated, so visitors get a good view of them. Altogether, twenty-five Texas state parks have solar panels, and the Cedar Hill array is one of the largest ones. Someday soon, the Parks and Wildlife Department hopes to rely mostly on solar power, as it helps keep the parks pristine for all visitors.