Lake Somerville State Park | August 2021

We spent the last weekend of August checking another park off our list - Lake Somerville State Park. Less than 2 hours away from both Austin and Houston, this park is a great option for a weekend getaway! Lake Somerville State Park actually has more than one unit - there is the Birch Creek unit at the northern end of the lake, the Nails Creek unit at the south, and the Trailway which connects the two. There is also a public hunting unit nearby. We stayed at Nails Creek in the Bent Tree camping area.

For a summer weekend, the park was unbelievably quiet. There were only a handful of other campers and next to no traffic on the roads. That made it perfect for bike riding! Bike riding is especially great in this park because because the park is so small - you can get everywhere easily via bike. The helpful front desk clerk recommend the Rocky Creek Day Use Area for swimming. That was the first place we headed when we arrived on Friday. The swimming was okay. It was pretty shallow and the water was warm so I felt like I was taking a bath, but we sat in the water for a while until it started to thunder.

What the park lacked in quality swimming, it made up for in quality hiking. Between the units, there are more than 40 miles of trails! It was really beautiful. The trails are very well designed and many times we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, even though we weren't far from the developed areas. That was a really nice feature of the trail routes. The Somerville Trailway that connects the Birch Creek and Nails Creek units is about 13 miles long and has numerous backcountry camping sites along the way. We explored the trailway about three miles in and were very happy with our experience. We will absolutely be back to explore the backcountry more and do a couple of days of backpacking! I highly recommend hitting up this park for the excellent hiking.

Wildlife was abundant, which I am sure was aided by the fact that it was so quiet while we were there. We saw loads of White-tailed deer, bunnies, lots of birds, a couple of snakes, and a plethora of dragonflies and butterflies.This park is made for equestrian use and the campsites had very nice horse pens at them. Most of the trails in Nails Creek allow horses and they are allowed on the Trailway, as well. There is a small fishing pond located near the Cedar Creek camping area and you can borrow Loaner Tackle at Headquarters for free!

One thing to note is that the campground bathrooms are closed currently, but they have decent trailer restrooms/showers in place. The Bent Tree restroom trailer only offered toilets, but the Cedar Creek camping restroom set up also had showers. They weren't the best, but they did the job! Let's be real, we don't go camping expecting hotel-style bathrooms. Throw on a pair of flip flops and you'll be fine. The water is hot, the showers are private, and you'll be fresh and ready for your next adventure!

Overall, we really enjoyed our time at Lake Somerville! I hate to say that I was surprised, but I kind of was. I didn't go into the weekend thinking it was going to be crappy or anything, I just had never heard much about the park so I figured it'd just be average. It was definitely above average. We hiked pretty much all the trails + part of the trailway (putting in about 9 miles total for the weekend), rode bikes to our hearts' content, and lounged in the hammock enjoying the breeze and sunshine. Keep this park on your list - you won't regret it!

Lake Somerville State Park | August 2021


Caddo Lake State Park | June 2021

Our last, but absolutely not least, stop on our trip was Caddo Lake State Park in Karnack, Texas (home of Lady Bird Johnson!). Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state of Texas. That's crazy right? ALL the other lakes in Texas, ALL OF THEM, are man made. Blows my mind.

Caddo Lake has been on my must-see list for a long time because it just looks so magical and mystical in pictures. The Spanish moss hanging off of the bald cypress trees growing throughout this 26,000+ acre lake just looks like a dream.

We decided to end the trip with a splurge and stayed in one of the cabins. We stayed in Cabin 1 and it was really awesome. The CCC built the cabins, along with other structures in the park, in the 1930s. The cabin had a perfect front porch, complete with chairs and a bench. It's made of a combination of rock and log and is really beautiful. The inside is pretty plain - a small dining table, kitchen area, sofa, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. No linens or kitchenware are provided, which was fine because we had all that stuff with us anyways! Our only complaint was that there was no fire pit, but we ended up doing s'mores on the grill instead. Overall, I highly recommend these cabins!

Caddo Lake is pretty swampy and, at least in the state park, most people don't swim. We did some googling, though, and discovered that there was a local park right across the border in Louisiana that was more suitable for swimming. We made the short drive to Earl G. Williamson Park in Oil City, LA . It was still not great swimming, but it was enough to cool us off. It became pretty clear that the best way to see the lake would be on boat.

We quickly booked a sunset cruise with Big Cypress Tours, headed back to the cabin for a quick change of clothes, then headed to the boat. We toured the lake as the sun went down while our guide shared lots of information, history, and folklore about the area. It was just stunning. It really is a magical place.

The next day, we contacted a friend of a friend and were able to book a private boat tour with him for the entire morning. He brought us ALL over the lake, including to a cool little secret swimming spot where the kids got out and played. We covered a lot of ground (err.. water?) in the hours on the lake and it was all just incredible. It is just gorgeous. I can't say that enough!

If you're planning a visit to Caddo Lake, my best recommendation would be to get out on the water to really get the full experience. Do a boat tour, go kayaking or canoeing, whatever - you just don't get the full vibe from the shoreline. You HAVE to get out there into this magical water forest fairy-tale land.

Caddo Lake | June 2021


Two Week Travels | To Pennsylvania & back

Hard to believe our big summer road trip has already come and gone. We're still riding that natural high that a fantastic trip gives you. We went up to Pennsylvania for an old friend's wedding and made the most of the trip by stopping along the way at some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen! Here was our route to Pennsylvania and back! More to come about the fabulous places we visited!

Pennsylvania itinerary


Huntsville State Park | January 2021

This past January, we ventured out to the piney woods of east Texas, a place we haven't explored much of honestly, and parked the teardrop in Huntsville State Park for two nights. It was extremely rejuvenating, especially because the park was pretty empty while we were there. It was overcast and grey for pretty much the whole time. In fact, we left just before the first snow of winter hit Texas (the second one being the snowpocalypse in February). A really great friend of mine works at the park so we had ulterior motives for going since I also really wanted to see her and meet her kiddo!

Huntsville State Park is a gorgeous 2,000 acre park built in a large part by the Civilian Conservation Corp (aka CCC) in the 1930s. Work on the park took a hiatus during World War II, but began again in the 50s, with the park opening in 1956. Lake Raven is the most prominent feature of the park, and is a 210 acre man-made lake that is popular for fishing, swimming, and canoeing/kayaking. The park was much bigger than I thought, with 160 campsites!

Our site was 143 in Prairie Branch and was right on the water. It was set away from most of the other sites, except for one site right next door. I was really hoping to not have a neighbor since the park was so empty, but alas, someone pulled in shortly after we arrived. They were a nice, quiet, older couple, though, and had a friendly dog that Lily enjoyed petting. While this site wasn't as close to the bathrooms and we usually prefer, it was RIGHT next to the Prairie Branch trailhead. After setting up camp, we did a short hike, connecting the Prairie Branch trail to the Dogwood trail and then looping back around to the site.

The next morning before breakfast (but after caffeine), we hiked the full Prairie Branch loop trail. It's a really easy, short hike, half of which is along the water. It was a nice way to start the day. Afterwards, we cooked breakfast and sat and enjoyed the morning bird songs. In fact, as I sat in my camp chair with my feet propped up on my cooler, a warbler landed on my damn foot! I felt like Snow White, y'all.

Our last day there, we awoke to temperatures hovering just above freezing and a gorgeous layer of steam coming off of the lake. It was absolutely gorgeous. We met up with my pal and did lap after lap on the short Loblolly Trail right behind the Nature Center. It was perfect to let the kiddos run some energy off and we could meander with them and chat. Lily played so well with her daughter, despite the 5 year age difference.The two of them were cracking us up. We also stopped inside the Nature Center so Lily could touch the baby alligators! They have a partnership with Brazos Bend State Park where the young gators are raised at the park then released back at Brazos Bend when they are older.

Overall, we really enjoyed the park. It was lovely, well maintained, and quiet (though it does get very busy on weekends so don't expect quiet if you camp on a Saturday night). We are looking forward to returning soon!

Huntsville | January 2021