The park itself is not on Caddo Lake, but you can get there from here. A boat ramp dips into Big Cypress Bayou, which pours slowly and eventually into the lake several miles away, through about 26,000 acres of beautiful wetlands. The bayou is a wonderful paddle, though unfortunately, the park no longer rents canoes or offers pontoon boat tours, so if you don’t have your own you’ll have to rely on one of the nearby vendors.
Even if you don’t have a boat, the boat ramp is a good place to begin. A short path to the right takes you into the shadows of a grove of bald cypresses at the bayou’s edge, with draping curtains of pale moss waving in the slightest breeze. Below the tall trees, a miniature forest of cypress knobs blankets the ground, spotted here and there with delicate woodland flowers. To the left of the floating dock, you can walk a short way along a more open bank of the bayou.
Fishing is the big attraction at Caddo Lake, and you’ll hear small fishing boats slowly puttering along the bayou long before you see them.
The park’s interpretive Nature Trail loop branches off from the boat ramp parking lot and heads into the woods of pine, oak and hickory. The trail is just over a half mile but the hilly terrain with sweeping hollows makes it more interesting. With all of the ups and downs and a couple of steep staircases, you might want to take a rest at the large Civilian Conservation Corps shelter about halfway in. A guidebook accompanies the trail, but the plants are missing from some of the interpretive stops – victims of the recent drought. If you’re more adventuresome, a network of rougher, steeper trails branches off the Nature Trail, deeper into the forest.
The woods are home to raccoons, squirrels, armadillos and white-tailed deer, which often feed at their edge in the morning and evening.
Just up the road from the boat ramp area, a wooden pier juts out into Saw Mill Pond, where lily pads and American lotus congregate around the huge cypress trees that sprout from the middle of the pond, which connects to the bayou at its far end.
As long as you’re nearby, it’s worth taking a visit to the adjacent Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is new and still a little rough around the edges but touches the shores of Caddo Lake and offers some more undeveloped forest paths.