While Texas is not well known for Autumn foliage like other parts of the United States, you can find pockets of glorious color displays in several areas that rival those of the Eastern United States. It may be a secret to even those fromTexas that there is a spectacular foliage season right here in the state. Many of these autumn wonderlands can be viewed in an easy day-trip out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, although there are some located a bit further that are worth the trip if you want to spend an overnight or two.
Some of the largest displays of fall foliage around the state can be found in East Texas with its lush wooded areas featuring pines, dogwoods, beech, blackgum, hickory and other hardwoods.
This particular scenic route is located very close to Dallas. You can choose to make all the stops, or pick out one or two areas to make a perfect Fall Staycation day-trip.
This route starts in Winnsboro out I-30 East from Dallas, and continues east through to Jefferson Texas. The total route is 188 miles from Dallas.
Winnsboro: Created in the 1850’s, this old fashioned town is located about 90 miles east of Dallas. Surrounded by seven area lakes and thick piney woods, the area is picturesque during the spring and especially in the autumn. The town is surrounded by trees that broadcast a rainbow of colors during the fall with numerous trails carved out for hiking and riding. Winnsboro town folk are so proud of their area’s display of colors that they celebrate by holding an annual Autumn Trail festival every weekend during the entire month of October. The festival includes trail rides with around a thousand horse riders and carriages, a Livestock Show, an Antique Car Rally, a BBQ Cook-off, Rodeo, Motorcycle Rally, a Farmers Market and an Art Fair. The historic main street district, voted “Best Small Town Downtown” in Texas by County Line Magazine, is filled with antiques, shops and eateries.
If you want to spend the night, there are several beautiful B&Bs and ranch accommodations.
Autumn Trails Association: 903-342-1958
Lake Bob Sandlin State Park: Located 20 miles east from Winnsboro in the town of Pittsburg. This
639.8-acre park, situated on the heavily wooded shoreline of the lake, is surrounded by a variety of oak, hickory, pine, dogwood, redbud, and maple trees producing spectacular fall color.
The park offers 5 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails with 8 footbridges, swimming, fishing, restrooms, playground, a lighted fishing pier and campgrounds. A variety of birds and wildlife can be viewed year round, including eagles during the winter months. The town of Pittsburg is full of charm with plenty of attractions, shopping and cafes.
Daingerfield State Park: Heading 26 miles east from Lake Bob Sandlin State Park you arrive at Daingerfield State Park located right outside the town of Daingerfield. The 506 acre park, situated on an 80 surface acre lake, has been described as a little hidden gem, and recently reopened after having a 5 million dollar facelift that took a year to complete. Some of the upgrades were made to the campgrounds, restroom facilities, historic bathhouse and the lodge on the property.
The foliage of the sweet gum, red oak, maple, dogwood and sassafras, as well as Virginia creeper and flaming sumac sets the park aglow in gold, russet and deep burgundy contrasting against the crystal clear lake.
Activities include picnicking; camping; boating, fishing; swimming and hiking. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, blue and channel catfish, crappie, bluegills and sunfish making it a great place to relax and enjoy the colors while fishing from the pier or from a boat. There is a year round boat rental shop that has pedal-boats, canoes, kayaks, and flat bottom boats. They also sell drinks, snacks, fishing supplies, and bait. Boats on the lake are strictly required to keep at a 5 MPH speed limit preventing wakes making it great for canoeing and kayaking.
For Boat Rental Information : 903- 645-2921
Caddo Lake State Park: Located 44 miles southeast from Daingerfield, right out of the town of Jefferson in Uncertain. The lake is one of the largest natural lakes and wetlands in the south. Caddo Lake is actually on Big Cypress Bayou resting in both Texas and Louisiana. The lake is made up of a sprawling maze of bayous and sloughs covering 26,810 acres, and offering a variety of wildlife including; waterfowl, eagles, alligators, turtles, frogs, snakes, raccoons, minks, nutrias, beavers, squirrels, armadillos, and white-tailed deer. The lush vegetation includes 186 species of plants such as ferns, buckeyes, sumacs, hardwoods and pines against the backdrop of hanging Spanish moss.
The contrasting colors of red, bronze and copper leaves along with glowing silver moss and the deep green of the lake makes an enchanting lanscape. You can hike, fish or enjoy the lake by various watercraft excursions including; canoes, pontoon boats, and a steamship.
Take an especially scenic boat adventure at dusk into the far reaching areas of the bayou with Caddo Outback Tours. With the Outback Tour you get a chance to get up close and personal with various wildlife along the way including alligators when they are in season. John, the gracious tour guide, has spent his entire life on the lake and knows it as well the back of his hand! Another great excursion is the Graceful Ghost Tour on a replica 1800’s era steamboat. Commandeering the Graceful Ghost is Captain Ron, who gives you a scenic and informative tour along the bayou. The town of Jefferson is a nice place to spend the night so that you can have time for the boat tours and to take advantage of the many antique shops while in the area. There are cabins to rent at the lake, or wonderful B&Bs in historic homes in the town.
East Texas is a beautiful area full of quaint towns, piney woods and many attractions available throughout the year. There are more scenic fall drives throughout the area that I will continue to feature in upcoming “Falling for Fall Staycations”, so stayed tuned by subscribing to get instant updates.