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Review:  Hiking, Exploring and Camping at Tyler State Park

Review: Hiking, Exploring and Camping at Tyler State Park

avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 03/29/2018
Posted On 10/18/2018 18:11:34

Camping | Hiking | Texas | Tyler | Review of Tyler State Park | Campgrounds in East Texas | Campgrounds in the Piney Woods | RVing in East Texas

Having owned "RV There Yet?" for just over 8 months, we began the first of (hopefully) many longer trips which will give us the opportunity to see more of this country that we call home. Departing on our trip, our plan was to "live" in our RV for about 5 weeks - twice as long as we had before this trip.

If you are considering a camping trip in East Texas, take a look at this post. We were so happy with our decision to stay at Tyler State Park - and, if you have a Texas State Parks Pass, you can save a good deal of money on your stay!

Campground Amenities at Tyler State Park

With both full hook-up and electric / water only sites that will accommodate RVs, Tyler State Park also offers tent only campsites plus cabins, screened shelters and options for group events. On-line reservations are accepted, however site selection is currently not available until check-in at the park. A pilot program is currently underway, and beginning in early 2019 it is anticipated that campers will be able to select a site simultaneously with making an online reservation.

The campsite loops at Tyler State Park are situated all around the spring fed Tyler State Park Lake. Water activities for guests at the park include boating (boat ramp in park), pier fishing for bass, catfish, crappie or perch and swimming at the "beach". Canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available for rent and fishing rods, reels and tackle boxes are available on loan (no fishing license is required for fishing from the shore in any Texas State Park). In addition to the available water activities, guests can also hike or bike and, of course, picnic while enjoying the natural setting of the park with its 100-foot tall trees. The park also has a playground, an amphitheater and a park store.

During our short 3 night stay at the park, it was apparent that there had been a recent fire as some areas still seemed to be smoldering. After a little research, we were able to confirm what Scott had suspected. A controlled burn was performed just four days before our visit in an effort to allow the grasses and wildflowers to better grow.

The park (including restrooms and bathhouses) was clean during our visit, however of the four shower stalls nearest our site only two were in working order. With our Texas State Parks Pass, the total cost for our three nights at Tyler State Park was $60.00. Our pass waived the $6.00 per person daily entrance fee and also gave us a 50% discount on the fees for our second night of camping. Without the pass, our three nights would have come at a total price tag of $108.00.

Campsite Amenities at Tyler State Park

Tyler State Park has 107 sites that will accommodate RVs (57 with full hook-ups and 50 with water and electric only). All RV sites are paved and although some require backing-in, the majority of the RV sites are pull-through. Campsites were clean and in good condition, and each site has an uncovered picnic table on a concrete base, fire pit with grate and lantern hook. Dumpsters are located throughout the park and there are two dump stations for those with RVs who opt for a water and electric only site.

We selected site 54 in Big Pine (Area 3) at check-in based on available sites long enough to accommodate our 33 foot trailer (plus a little assistance from the park map). The site has full hook-ups (50-amp electric, on-site sewer and water), however the layout of the sewer and electric make it challenging to use both utilities simultaneously without having a sewer hose extension. While the park is full of tall shade trees, those on our site would not accommodate our hammocks due to their spacing. Although the paved site was not as flat as we prefer (sloped from side to side), we were very happy with the location as it had an obstructed view of the lake ... and even some unexpected wildlife. (Once the sun had set and the food was cooking on the the fire pit, it seemed like Scott sent out a "calling all raccoons" alert as they were rather difficult to keep away for the remainder of the evening!)

Preparing Marshmallows for S'mores

Preparing Marshmallows for S'mores

There was a nice selection of broadcast television stations available and the reception was good in the park. Cell phone and data service was also very good with both of our carriers, Verizon and T-Mobile.

Favorite Campsites at Tyler State Park

During our three days at the park, we did our customary search for our favorite campsites just in case we have the opportunity to return. Sorted by area, our favorites include:

Cedar Point Camping Area

Furthest from the lake, the 20 sites in the Cedar Point Camping Area ($20.00 nightly camping fee) have on-site water and electric with a dump station well positioned in the loop. While all of the campsites in Cedar Point have large trees (most are even suitably spaced for hanging hammocks) and are well shaded, many of the sites are too short for "RV There Yet?". Our favorites (that appear to be long enough for our trailer) are pull-through sites 8 and 18 and back-in site 15.

Lakeview Camping Area

As expected, more of the sites in the Lakeview Camping Area ($28.00 nightly fee for the premium sites) have unobstructed views of Tyler State Park Lake. Of the 18 campsites in the loop, our two favorites are sites 34 and 35, both longer pull through sites on the water with a selection of "hammock trees". Back-in site 36 also has a view and shade trees very similar to our two favorite sites. All things considered, we would be very happy with sites 32 and 33, and although the location and available shade trees at back-in sites 31 and 37 are nice, they are likely not long enough for our rig.

Big Pine Camping Area

Of the 39 sites in the Big Pine Camping Area ($24.00 nightly camping fee), our favorite is site 56. In addition to a partially obstructed lake view, the site also has good trees for hanging hammocks. Both sites 53 and 54 (our site) also have partially obstructed lake views, but no trees spaced properly for relaxing on our hammocks.

Campsite 54 in the Big Pine Camping Area

Campsite 54 in the Big Pine Camping Area

Hiking at Tyler State Park

Tyler State Park is home to eight Hiking and/or Mountain Biking Trails ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging. With trails spanning from less than 1/2 mile to over 3 miles in distance, the park has over 13 miles of trails. Total time for each of the hikes is estimated at 20 minutes for the 0.35 mile easy Blackjack Trail to 2 hours for B Loop, a 3.1 mile hike rated as moderate in difficulty.

Although I was hoping for more, with the time that we spent both avoiding the rain and exploring the camping areas, we had the opportunity to complete only two of the hikes:

Lakeshore Trail

The Lakeshore Trail, a very easy to follow and relatively flat hike, took us in a loop starting just around the corner from our campsite all of the way around Tyler State Park Lake and back to our starting point.

Beginning our Hike on the Lakeshore Trail

Beginning our Hike on the Lakeshore Trail

The hike is a great opportunity to see all that the park has to offer as it winds through both tall pine tree shaded areas as well as big expanses of open land. There are lots of points along the way where you have the choice of walking right at the water's edge or hiking on higher ground (probably most important during times when the lake water is high).

During our 2.1 mile hike, we passed fishing piers, park benches, picnic areas, screened shelters, the designated swim "beach", bath house, park store, boat house, playground, boat ramp, amphitheater and restrooms. I was disappointed to learn that the park store and Silver Canoe (the boat house) were closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, our only two full days at the park. It would have been fun to rent a canoe, kayak or pedal boat for an hour or two.

Sights along the Lakeshore Trail

Sights along the Lakeshore Trail

C Loop Trail

C Loop is rated challenging likely due to the constant altitude changes. Although the inclines and declines along the way are gradual, they are certainly noticeable. Our 1.47 mile planned hike around C Loop Trail turned into a longer than expected hike as we somehow missed a directional sign and ended up on the 3.1 mile B Loop Trail!

C Loop & B Loop Trailheads

C Loop & B Loop Trailheads

Fortunately, the extra distance that we hiked on B Loop was only "moderate" in difficulty. Once we realized that we were not where we wanted to be, we took a short cut along the paved Old Road Trail which led back to the main park road.

Hiking in Tyler State Park

Hiking in Tyler State Park

Texas State Parks Pass

If you are reading this post, you are likely considering a visit to at least one of the state parks in Texas. Take a look at our post titled Should You Purchase a Texas State Parks Pass? for a cost vs. benefit comparison to help you decide if the pass is right for you.

Camping in East Texas

What is your favorite place to camp in east Texas, and what is it about the location that makes it your top choice?

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Review:  Hiking, Exploring and Camping at Tyler State Park


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