Daingerfield is relativley small, wrapping 500 acres of park around 80 acres of lake, but because it is fed by springs, the lake isn’t as low as its cousins around the state that depend on rainfall. The far side of the lake is wild, while the near side boasts a fishing pier and floating swimming platform. The park rents canoes, kayaks and flat-bottom boats.
The beautiful Rustling Leaves Nature Trail circles the lake, offering view upon view of lake and forest. From the trail head near the Dogwood camping area, it climbs a bit steeply into a woodland of large pines, but flattens out quickly as it dips down toward the lake. Take the short trail that branches off onto a thin peninsula for closer views of the lake. The trail moves back into the forest after that, but drops toward the lake again near the end, where it crosses a bridge and comes out on the park road. An interpretive guide identifies the diverse trees and shrubs along the trail – from river birch and American holly to red buckeye and black walnut.
The entire trail runs 2.5 miles if you circumnavigate the lake, but the last third of it crosses more open ground along the developed areas of the lakefront.
Just off the end of the Rustling Leaves trail is group of steeper forest trails. They’re accessible from a couple of turnoffs on the lake trail, but the formal trail head is up the road near the Mountain View camping area. The trails are organized in a series of loops, leaving the length of the hike up to you, though you have to pay close attention at the unmarked junctions. Some sections are a rather steep climb, but you plunge into a dense forest and, at the top, you get a birds-eye view of the lake through the top of the trees.
The park puts on two colorful shows each year. In the spring, dogwoods, red buds and wisteria vines bloom throughout its rolling hills. In the fall, the sweetgum, oak and maple trees in the forest and along the lakefront turn a bright red and yellow.