About a month ago I took a trip out to Caddo Lake State Park and stayed in Jefferson, TX. Here is my overall review of the area!
First, Big Cypress Bayou is the largest cypress bayou in the world! The actual bayou and the state park were beautiful! As you can see in the picture above, there is a lack of leaves on the trees. This comes from a particular worm that shows up about every nine years and eats away all of the foliage. It was also too early for the fall colors to come in (the internet lies!), so if you want to see all the bright reds and oranges out here in east Texas I recommend coming later, around November instead of early October. The drive to Jefferson takes about 3 hours from the DFW area.
Secondly, there are few places to stay at or near the actual state park if you are not camping. My family and I ended up staying in Jefferson, TX. A little historic town filled with history. WARNING: There is a distinct lack of social distancing being observed here. A lack of social distancing, mask wearing, and safely precautions made my family and I very uncomfortable. I probably would not have stayed in the town had I know about them. If you are at risk or think you may be at risk please consider postponing your trip to a later time. Masks were generally not worn while cooking, serving, or in public.
We stayed at an little bed and breakfast called the Captains Castle (link) in a room that had a queen-sized bed and a trundle (4 people max). We were also able to bring our dogs as long as they were crated while we were not in the room with them. Overall, I would say that the food was good, the people were friendly, and the room was clean. It is a little run down but overall a nice b&b. Like everywhere else in Jefferson there was a lack of mask wearing while cleaning and cooking. The room we booked worked well for our two nights out. We were even able to reschedule because of inclement weather that was supposed to occur on our original weekend.
Since we drove in Friday night, the fun really started Saturday morning. We first went to Johnson's Ranch to take a boat tour of the bayou (link). It was a beautiful day to take a ride! The boat was a great way to see the bayou without having to put in a lot of work 😂. I thought overall the price was decent ($35/adult). We were in a large pontoon with another group. The other group was conscious of the social distancing efforts we were putting in and sat at the front of the boat while we sat at the back and all persons wore masks. The ride was pleasant and there was lots to learn about the local biome! We also visited and hiked in Caddo Lake State Park. Hiking in Caddo is... not great, not gonna lie. There are very few trails. This state park is best for water sports and has some AMAZING 🤩 camp spots on the bayou. We spent the afternoon touring (in our car) around Jefferson and looking at the small town.
Sunday morning, Abbey and I took a canoe out on the bayou for some paddling! We had a great time seeing the sights from a different point of view. We ended up paddling the Cathedral paddling trail (link). Paddling we got to slow things down and observe the flora and fauna. From the dripping Spanish moss to the snowy egrets we really got to dive in deep to the environment. Unfortunately we didn't see any crocodiles due to the cold snap. It was still an amazing time and we had great fun!
The Big Cypress Bayou is overrun with a plant called the Giant Salvinia. This is an invasive species originating from South America. The giant salvinia slowly overtakes the entire top of the water, killing vital plants and animals in the ecosystems food chain. Do your part to not spread this species to other bodies of water! If you are bringing your own boats, kayaks, or other water sport equipment please make sure to fully clean and dry your stuff before storing and using in other bodies of water. The spread of the giant salvinia is slowly killing this beautiful area and all safety precautions should be taken. To learn more about the giant salvinia and it's harmful effects visit this link here.
My thoughts overall:
Overall I thought the trip was a success. There was definitely some times that I wish had gone better, especially on the social distancing front. It was still so nice to get out of DFW and take a weekend with my family! We had a great time outdoor and taking a few hikes with the dogs. I'll be honest, I think my dogs had the best time overall! A whole weekend of cuddles, walks, and treats galore! If you are interested in visiting Caddo Lake State Park please visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website to learn more and plan your trip today! I would recommend reserving a camp site, if possible, and really taking in all the nature that surrounds you!