Lake Livingston State Park, about an hour north of Houston, Texas, is a wooded oasis that is the perfect place to escape to when you feel like the world is getting to be too much. On the edge of Lake Livingston, one of the largest lakes in the state of Texas, this state park offers lots of amenities, including a well-stocked general store, bathrooms, and tent and RV camping as well as screened shelters for rent. While you’re there, you can enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, geocaching, biking, swimming or nature watching.
We visited the state park on Monday, March 12th, 2018. It was just a few days into our week-long Spring Break trip to Texas and we were finally feeling human again. It seemed like a good idea to get out a little and enjoy the fresh air. And it turned out to be just the perfect day for an excursion with temps in the upper 60’s and lots of sunshine.
There are several trails throughout the state park and we selected a 1-mile loop that was a nice easy stroll through the Pineywoods Forest.
The trail is a boardwalk and it’s easy to navigate through the towering pines. Along the way, you’ll find several places to sit and take a break along the way. It’s a very peaceful place to relax and just hear yourself think, or to enjoy the nature around you.
The Lake Livingston State Park is also very dog-friendly and Mackenzie was thrilled to take Sugar for a walk/run along the boardwalk. Both of them were enjoying clomping along the boardwalk and discovering what was around each approaching corner.
For the most part, we obeyed the signs that asked visitors to stay on the boardwalk. But we did decide to do a little treasure hunting and sought out a Geocaching adventure that had been planted along the trail (with state park approval of course). Because it was a beautiful day and Spring Break, there were a lot of muggles about (people who have no idea what Geocaching is). But we loved the tiny, challenging little cache we discovered. And enjoyed participating in the hunt which we haven’t done in quite a while.
If you’re not familiar with Geocaching, you can think of it as the less electronic version of Pokemon Go. You use GPS coordinates to locate a treasure cache (which could be as small as a film canister or as large as an ammo can) which is hidden in the area. It’s always astonishing just how well camouflaged that caches can be. We’ve always found it so much fun to do as a family or out with a dog or even friends. We loved discovering new places via Geocaching while living in Germany. And even did a few in the middle of the night (which is super challenging!)
Did I mention that Mackenzie and the dog had an awesome time? That they didn’t just pass out at the end of the day was a huge surprise. But they really enjoyed themselves as they explored every inch of the boardwalk.
The path is very stroller and wheelchair friendly, and you can meander along at your own pace. There were a few areas that were a bit more warped than others due to fallen trees — and we had fun wandering along that stretch and commenting about how odd and funny it was, like something from a Dr. Seuss book.
After our lovely, relaxing stroll (and Mackenzie’s jog), we were ready for refreshments. So we hopped in the car and made our way over to the park store at the water’s edge. It is a really neat little shop with a bit of everything you’d need for a day of fun or a night of camping. There were also lots of souvenirs and a cute learning area.
The most fascinating thing in the store, though, was the live bee hive. Using plexiglass for the side wall, a beehive with a tunnel to the outside world, was worth sitting and watching all day. Bees at work are pretty amazing little creatures.
Outside the store is a great lookout tower. You can see all around the state park’s grounds from up there, and the entire marina which is a great fishing hole. Lake Livingston is full of bass and if you’re lucky you’ll also catch catfish, crappie or perch. You’d don’t need a license to fish from the shore of a state park…and if you didn’t bring your fishing gear, that’s no problem because you can use gear from the Tackle Loaner Program. You gotta love Texas!
Oh and this is freshwater, so yes, there may be an alligator or two. And snakes. It’s Texas folks – they’re everywhere. As a child, I saw many a water moccasin so just be aware.
The state park has 3 boat ramps and swimming is also an option (in the summer months). During the summer, this is also a great spot to dock with your boat to grab an ice cream or cold drinks after a long day on the water.
I grew up in this area and spent most weekends of my life on the Lake. We would go boating out to Pine Island (which you can see in the middle of this picture below) and it was a fantastic part of the world to explore and enjoy as a kid.
Being a lover of nature, avid boater and fisherwoman, I was really interested about the “Stop Invasive Species” signs which we found at the boat ramps in the park. Southwest Florida has a crazy number of invasive creatures (not to mention plants) that are always being brought up in the news or educational programs (from Burmese pythons to iguanas and Cane Toads). But I wasn’t certain what might be the issue here in this freshwater lake.
After a little googling, I discovered that Zebra mussels are the culprit here and in many other lakes and rivers across the state and country. The prolific little suckers destroy ecosystems rather quickly, munching down all the algae that native fish each and affecting water quality which changes the lake vegetation. You can geek out and read more about zebra mussels too but let me just say – for the future of all our waterways, flush your boat when you leave the water and never dump water from a container that you bring from elsewhere into the lake. These things spread like wildfire.
We really enjoyed our visit to the Lake Livingston State Park and it’s highly worth a visit if you’re in the area and want to connect with nature!
What you Need to Know if You Visit Lake Livingston State Park
Address: 300 Park Road 65
Livingston, TX 77351
Latitude: 30.656897, Longitude: -95.001093
Cost: Adults are $5 Daily, Child 12 Years and Under are Free. Additional fees apply if you are camping or renting equipment.