Deep in the heart of East Texas resides a CCC state park with amazing lake views, plenty of trails, and camping accommodations for any fan of the outdoors. Tyler state park was a gem, and I can’t wait to go back.
What to expect at Tyler State Park
Tyler S.P. is a CCC park, so be on the lookout for amazing structures here. Plenty of trails and places to camp, but don’t forget the pool toys to use in the lake!
The loblolly pines of east Texas have been something I wanted to see up close ever since visiting Bastrop state park. What I was expecting was learning about a different kind of pine tree as well. Tyler state park has so much to offer in terms of wilderness. Everywhere you looked the trees towered above. Everywhere except for where the water exists. And the water is abundant, and the creeks run through the park and let the Civilian Conservation Corps’ work shine throughout.
Driving to Tyler state park is fairly easy. It’s right off of the highway, and the great thing is that while at the time of this posting the gift shop was closed, right across from the park is a gas station that offers everything you need and more. We got some amazing gelato on our second night. So good!
The park entrance features the name carved in stone, and you’re immediately greeted by a pine tree-lined road as you turn into the headquarters.
The park loops around the lake. You have a north shore, and a south shore, you have campsites for cabins, tents, and RV’s; you have boat docks, swimming holes, fishing piers; you have a ton of great options for hiking and biking, and plenty of room to move around.
The points of interest here really reflect the hard work of the CCC. Scenic overlooks, a dam, a wading pool, and various waterways can be found all over this park. The building that you walk through to get to the swimming area was also designed by the CCC and has a spectacular frame of the lake.
The four main trails are designated with letters: A, B, C, D. These allow for mountain biking as well. Hikers go counter-clockwise, and mountain bikes clockwise. On my recent visit, I was intending on going on the C Loop trail so I could see the dam, but because I wasn’t paying attention I accidentally did the D Loop trail as well.
These trails are mostly shaded, and if you are mountain biking, well, bravo to you. There were a ton of rocks and roots on the pathways, but more impressive were the dips and valleys that winded me, and I was just walking.
The trails on the alphabet trails are marked decently. Pay extra close attention to the trail connections because sometimes the markers are just out of sight, but they’re there. The signage for C and D was pretty visible once you knew where to look, but from C to B the markers were around knee-level and I almost missed them.
The other trails at the park are great for all types of hiking abilities. The Lakeshore (2.1 mi.) trail goes around as much of the lake as possible and is fairly flat. You have plenty of opportunities for breathtaking views of the water, but if you look around you’ll see amazing birds, downed trees, and other people picnicking along the path.
The Whispering Pines (.67 mi) trail was probably the most fun and recommended for anyone that wants to learn a little more about nature. The trailheads being at the headquarters, or jump on at the Creekside Cabin area. This trail was built by the CCC over 70 years ago and is technically an interpretive trail.
There are signs on the trail that will describe the different plants and trees, and there are a few points of interest along the way: The wading pool, rock waterfall, and Beauchamp Springs all developed by the CCC to beautify the park.
It is hiking only on this trail, so take your time and don’t worry about any bikers zooming past you.
The remaining trails include the Blackjack trail (hiking only, .35 mi), and EZ Loop (.74 mi). The Blackjack trail gives you access to the bird blind that’s here, and the EZ Loop is just a connector to three other trails including the Blackjack, A Loop, and B Loop.
There is a camping solution for every type here at Tyler state park. With 10 different camping sites, you have everything from trailers only, (Big Pine), to cabins (Creekside). If you want amazing views of the water I suggest the Dogwood Ridge camping area. It’s a small loop right on the water, and it’s for tents, so you won’t be surrounded by RV’ers.
There is a screened shelter section, (Shortleaf), and the great thing is that the sites are organized together. So RV’s sites are closer together, and the tent sites are a bit away. They took thought into the layout of these sites to make them feel organic.
The restrooms here are fine. Some buildings look newer than others. I will say that for the cabin section to be the highest rate for an overnight stay, the restrooms were probably the least impressive.
The Creekside cabin section does not allow pets, so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to bring the pets.
Day Use Info
Plenty of tables even in the day-use picnic areas to hang out during the day without feeling like you’re going to see too many people. There are some picnic areas close to the Lakeshore trail, but there are others that are a bit more secluded.
If you’re interested in fishing there are two lighted piers and a boat ramp for getting out your kayaks and canoes.
The lake has a shallow area for swimming with a little pier out towards the deeper end. It’s fairly roomy, and even being there on the weekend, it never really felt too crowded. The lawn in front allows for everyone to grab a spot, and the bathhouse just above offers restrooms and showers to clean up.
At the time of this posting, the boathouse was closed, so no kayak rentals, and the gift shop was closed, so no souvenirs.