On the Fourth, we headed about an hour and forty five minutes northeast of us to a state park that I particularly like, Lake Livingston. Lake Livingston itself is the second largest lake in Texas, being 39 miles long and 7 miles across at its widest. It covers 93,000 acres, 635.5 of which belong to the state park. It is notable for its white bass fishery, but also holds catfish (mostly blue), largemouth bass, striped bass, and crappie.
We were going up there to chill for the day and go hiking. Once there, we met up with my friends Diane and Misti, and were joined at various points by a geocacher named Linda (it was technically a geocaching event, but very low-key) and some members of Diane’s family. We all sat around in chairs in the shade by a picnic table in the swimming area of the park for a couple of hours. People had brought various treats to eat, such as chips, guacamole, salsa, orzo salad, couscous, and pound cake. We grilled some veggie burgers, hamburgers, and hot dogs and had a group lunch. After this, Misti, J and I went for a little hike. We ended up walking almost all the trails in this little park in about two hours. It was a little warm outside but it was bearable.
Initially, we took the Livingston Trail from the swimming area. We did the entire loop. At the beginning of the loop, you cross over a bridge that takes you over very inviting looking water. I wanted to swim in the lake today, but J didn’t think it was a good idea given my complications with my leg injury. We are fairly certain that last time we were here, this bridge was out, and also this part of the lake was dry – it was probably a drought year when we were in this section of the park last, so that doesn’t surprise me.
We found one of the few geocaches left in the park that we hadn’t already found while we were over this way. After this loop, we walked past the swimming area again on this same trail – which, in its entirety, is 2.73 miles long – and then skipped off of it just before it ended and took the Pineywoods Nature Walk trail, which is about 0.95 miles. This is a boardwalk path that leads you through a butterfly garden and bird blind observation area. I liked the educational signs inside the bird blind building.
We noticed as we were walking that some of the trees in the park had been completely taken over by poison ivy. This picture below is actually of a pine tree, but it has been enveloped nearly completely in the poisonous vine.
All in all I think it was about 3.5 miles that we hiked.
This state park has a lot to offer, but apparently can get crowded with both people and poisonous plants. There were a lot of people here on this holiday afternoon. The parking lot to the swimming area was so full that the TPWD state park police were parked at the front of the lot, blocking access to it and directing traffic. In this area, there is a swimming pool that is about $2-3 entrance fee, and it was completely packed with people. I really did not check out the lake access swimming area, but I imagine it was crowded, too. We found some occasional trash along our walk to pick up at first. At some point we just kind of gave up on that – especially after two incidents where I picked up 1) something nasty and 2) something that had ants all inside of it that bit my fingers pretty good. The park volunteers or rangers were going by on golf carts to pick up trash, but towards the end as we got closer to the swimming area, I noticed quite a bit of trash piled up near one family’s little claimed spot, and a collection of soda or beer bottle tops piled up near a little bridge. It is a little disheartening to see, and it made me consider the idea of hosting CITOs at state parks after holidays like this.
This park also offers horseback rides through their stables only (public is not allowed to bring their horses) for about $30 an hour cash, and you can also boat, paddle and fish here. There is a nice fish cleaning station at the marina. Diane was camping for the weekend, and said she was not too thrilled with the camping areas – they were very close to each other, she said. It is not her favorite park, but it is nice that it is close enough to Houston for a weekend getaway.
I heard a rumor that the state park was looking to kick this park out of their system, but that might not be substantiated. It looked like a very popular park, and I think it has a lot to offer in terms of recreational activities. TPWD is hosting a Birding 101 walk there July 13 and August 10, which could be interesting – unfortunately, I have conflicting events going on those days. I wouldn’t mind going back to this park again – at least to grab that one last geocache we have left to find in the park. It was also a nice excuse to see Misti again- hopefully it won’t be so long in between our next outdoors outing together!