Leaving College Station Texas is always bittersweet but our time had come to an end. We didn’t plan to travel very far as is typical for us. We drove just a bit over 100 miles and pulled into Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, a US Forest Service Park. Sites are rustic with water and 30 amp electric (no sewer) but the location is in a scenic part of the Texas Pineywoods Region. As an added incentive, using our Senior Parks Pass the site was only $10 per night, a steal by any standard.
We planned to spend two nights but extended our stay one more night to avoid some potential severe weather forecasted in northeast Texas later this week. There again is an example of why I dislike making reservations in advance. Not doing so allows us the flexibility to avoid bad weather situations such as is happening now. Of course there is no guarantee we will indeed avoid weather but we enjoy the flexibility nonetheless. We also wanted to stay longer because this campground was mostly empty other than the 2 camp hosts which was nice after the more crowded and busy time spent at the park in College Station.
One of our days at the park we decided to hike around Lake Ratcliff. We found a two mile trail which wound part way around the lake but from there we simply trail blazed the rest of the way around making the hike nearly four miles. From our site #19, the trailhead was just down the road spurring off our camping loop.
The hike was a pleasant one taking us through the Pineywoods along a rolling terrain. There were several small manmade bridges crossing the mostly ephemeral creeks. The vegetation was typical for the southeastern deciduous forest with loblolly and shortleaf pine along with a mix of hardwoods such as American Beach, White Oak, Red Oak, Sweet Gum, Hickory and Water Oaks. The understory was a vibrant green with only a few plants flowering but the most interesting plant we came across today was the Coral Bean with its striking red flowers contrasting all the spring green…
Our last day at this park we took a scenic drive over to Lufkin, Texas where we stopped in to enjoy delicious street tacos at one of the local Hispanic grocery stores, La Michoacana! Leaving Lufkin we headed north to the oldest city in Texas, Nacogdoches.
Our plan was to walk around the Stephen F Austin State University’s Mack Arboretum. The walk was only about one mile but it was very pleasant walking in the dense and lush woodlands. We were a bit late for the voluminous bounty of flowers produced by the springtime azaleas but luckily a few bushes were blooming late thus treating us to a blaze of color.
We really enjoyed our stroll in the arboretum taking in all the beauty. What made it even better was the abundance of artwork/sculptures scattered throughout the grounds. We would highly recommend a stroll in this arboretum and we especially enjoyed finding the vegetative tunnel of bald cypress trees. Of course our walk would not be complete without a stop at a local watering hole so we left the arboretum and ended our visit to Nacogdoches at the Makelmore's Ale House for a cold beverage… It's great to be back on the road again!
NOTE: We are now at Martin Creek State Park in Tatum Texas and will leave for Texarkana, Texas next…