So what’s the big deal with Tyler State Park? Isn’t this whole section of Texas essentially one big pine tree forest? Well, yes, that may be true, but the park has much more to offer its guests than trees. This delightful Civilian Conservation Corps-era park has a lot to offer visitors, and Tyler Lake, stands at the hub of the park, both figuratively and literally. You do not need a license or even fishing equipment to fish for bass, perch, catfish, and more from the lake's shore. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department loans fishing rods and tackle boxes to visitors, making it easy for anglers to cast out at this Texas park. Surrounding the lake are tall, serene, piney woods, and visitors may walk through these woods on the hiking trails that connect near the water. Tyler State Park is also a perfect place to take your RV. Several different camping areas provide electric, water, and full-hookup sites, some of which are right along the lake. Many are pull-through sites designed for large vehicles. The size limits vary immensely, but some spaces can hold rigs up to 105 feet. It rarely freezes here, so the flat roads are quite accessible. Plus, even when the temperatures rise to near-intolerable levels in July and August, the park is comfortable because there is always plenty of shade.
Most RVers will use I- 20 to reach Tyler State Park. The park is located 11 miles north of Tyler and approximately 100 miles east of Dallas, Texas, and 100 miles west of Shreveport, Louisiana. The location of the park makes it easy to access in just a few hours, even from areas outside of Texas. Several national forests are close to Tyler State Park and can make for exciting day trips. Davy Crockett National Forest, Angelina National Forest, and Sabine National Forest can all be found to the south of Tyler State Park and can be reached in around two hours.
Once inside of the park, most of the RV parking is located in or near the RV campsites. Most of the trails are loop trails that originate from the lake, so there is little need to drive your rig anywhere. There is plenty of additional parking at the trailheads if you need somewhere else to park the rig.
As you may have guessed, only RVs are allowed in these campsites near the lake’s west shore. This 39 site, full-hookup part of the park, offers access to the Lakeshore Trail. At each site, you will find a lantern post, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Other facilities nearby include restrooms with showers. Feel free to bring your furry friends along for the camping trip as long as you have their leash along, too. The campground is open year-round, and reservations can be made up to five months in advance.
All 18 the RV sites at Lakeview Camping Area are full-hookup sites. Sites 30 through 37 are almost right on the lake. Each site is equipped with a picnic table, lantern post, and a fire ring. An RV dump station, shower room, and restrooms are all located at the center of the camping area. This pet-friendly campground is open year-round, and reservations can (and should) be made up to five months in advance.
Cedar Point Campground is the closest RV campground to the park entrance and has 20 electric hookup sites, as well as restrooms, showers, drinking water, and a dump station. Sites are roomy and wooded, offering plenty of shade during the hot summer months. Each site sports a fire ring and a picnic table. Pets are allowed so long as they are kept on a leash six feet or shorter. The campground is open year-round, and reservations can be made up to five months in advance.
Six limited-service cabins, one of which is wheelchair-accessible, are featured here. Facilities also include a restroom and shower area and a group dining area. This camping area is the gateway to the Whispering Pines Nature Trail.
Hikers, who crave a path that is short and not too challenging, should take the C-D Loop Trail. The short, 3.3-mile trail runs along the northern portion of the lake. You won't want to forget your camera in the Airstream, as there are lots of hardwood and pine trees as well as carpets of wildflowers along this scenic trail. It’s a moderate trail, and there are some rather steep inclines and sharp turns, but altogether, it is not too difficult, and the trail is very well marked.
This 5.3-mile mixed-use trail is located on the west side of the lake. Riders should always ride clockwise on all mixed-use trails. The A portion of the trail has a lot of roots, but it is otherwise fairly smooth. The trail crosses a creek bed, which is dry most of the time but, it may be a little wet after heavy rainfall. The B section of the trail descends rather sharply and also ascends just as abruptly. It’s much closer to the lake and can be muddy during the rainy season. There are several creek crossings, but most of these areas of the trail are bridged, so you won't have to worry about walking through water.
Bring your GPS-enabled smart device along in the camper with you, and when you get to the park, set up camp and then head out to search for buried treasure along the trails. You won’t strike it rich finding doubloons, but you will come away with some geocache swag. Locate the hidden object, which could be a metal box or other similar container. Take out the gift and replace it with another one. Then, sign the logbook and reward yourself with a virtual smiley face. Then, it’s off to the next X-marks-the-spot locale.
This short and easy trail loops just off the bird blind. It’s a good place for supplemental birding, and it is also a good trail for young children that need to burn off some steam before retiring to the Airstream at night. This .4-mile trail winds past grassy savanna terrain, and should only take around 20 minutes to complete. The path is only open to hikers, meaning you won't have to share the trail with any bicycles.
Cardinals and red-breasted woodpeckers are among the most common types of birds in Tyler State Park. To get the most out of birding, don’t miss the guided Great Backyard Birding Classic. Parts of the Lakeshore Trail are good birding spots, and the swampy area at the far end of the trail is a favorite amongst birders. If you visit the park in the heart of the winter, set up a birdwatching post along the dam, and you may also get to see lots of sparrows.
At Tyler State Park Lake, the fish are almost always biting. Anglers enjoy this lake because there is no need to buy a fishing license if you're fishing from the shore. You don't even need to bring your bait, tackle, or fishing poles along in the rig. The park has a Tackle Loaner Program offering fishing rods, reel, and tackle to park visitors. There are three lighted fishing piers and a boat ramp in the park. Common catches on the lake include crappie, perch, catfish, and bass.
Many visitors enjoy boating at Tyler Lake, and there is a boat launch at the northern tip of the lake near the amphitheater to access the water. Motorboats are allowed on Tyler Lake, but the entire body of water is a no-wake zone. Canoeing and kayaking are quite popular here as well. If you didn't tow your own boat behind your Sprinter, rentals are available year-round at the Tyler State Park Store.
As the name implies, the Lakeshore Trail hugs the shoreline, and loops all the way around the lake. This loop is a moderate-level trail, which means you may need hiking boots. While it may be a more rigorous walk, young children hike this trail with little or no complaining. The hike, just under two miles, might be a bit long for little tykes, but there are cutoffs available if their legs get tired. It’s usually a good idea to hike this trail before you participate in lake activities. You’ll have a good idea of what activities are going on nearby, and during the summer months, the trail can be rather humid, so you’ll also be ready for a break.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC Overlook) is a stone’s throw from the Southside Day-Use Area. Most of the original CCC buildings and structures from the late 1930s still remain, including a stone shelter and a stone walkway. The CCC Overlook is one of the highest points in the park, but in this part of Texas, high is a relative term. On your walk, take your binoculars with you because this viewpoint offers excellent views of the park's native birds and wildlife.
They wouldn’t call it EZ unless it were easy, right? This .75-mile mixed-use (biking and hiking) trail is wide, flat, and sandy in places. It’s a good warm-up or cool-down trail for bikers, as there are cutoffs to some of the longer hiking and biking trails in this section of the park. If you plan on biking during your RV trip, you'll have to bring your own bikes with you, as Tyler State Park offers no rentals.
In many ways, this little trail may be the ideal nature hike. It’s a .75-mile loop, so it’s vigorous but not at all strenuous; in fact, it is rated as a moderate-level trail. That means it’s a little more difficult than an unpaved sidewalk but probably does not require any expertise or equipment. Only hikers are allowed on the trail, making it easy to enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Tread lightly, and you’ll probably see some birds and small mammals along your walk. The trail is also interactive, and numerous posts along the way offer information about the park's flora and fauna. As a little bonus, there are some original CCC structures. Part of a children’s wading pool and an old day-use area still remain. Who knows how many families held their reunions at this spot way back in the day!
Tyler State Park Lake is quite large and well-developed, so you won't want to forget to pack your bathing suit along in the motorhome during the summer months. Swimming in the lake can be a great way to cool off during a hot summer afternoon or after a vigorous hike. There are no lifeguards on duty, and an adult must accompany children at all times. Other facilities near the lake include a parking area, bathhouse, several picnic areas, a children’s play area, and restrooms.