Camping Review: Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area

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Everyone knows about the beautiful changing of the colors that takes place every fall in New England. I’d like to make that trip some year and visit relatives in the process. The bad news is that we can’t afford eight airline tickets, not to mention lodging. The good news is, we have a pretty sweet changing of the seasons of our own, here in East Texas.

If you have more kids than you have cash, or if you prefer Texas Chili to New England Clam Chowder, I have the place for you.

Ratcliff Lake Recreational Area

Ratcliff Lake is located in the Davey Crocket National Forest, on Texas Hwy 103, right between Crocket and Lufkin. The Lake itself covers about 45 surface acres. Surrounded by hills and trees, this is a beautiful spot, no matter what time of year you visit. We traveled during the first weekend of November. Both the weather and the Fall colors were spectacular.

Amenities and Activities

Though the park itself is spacious, there are only 56 camping sites, so you need to plan ahead and make reservations. Strangely, there are only a few sites with both electricity and water, so be careful when you reserve. Though all of the sites are visually appealing, the most beautiful sites right on the water are for tent campers only. With that said, if you have a 50 ft. motor home, they can accommodate you no problem. The campsites are large and the undergrowth has been cleared, which, depending on your preference for privacy, can either be good or bad. The bathrooms (there are four in the building) are single commode with shower and are non gendered, so it’s first come first serve.

  • Each site has a fire ring, table and trash hook.
  • Beautiful, clean, and well defined swimming area.
  • Fishing–there are several scenic fishing piers on the lake.
  • Kayaking and canoeing (no powered boats).
  • There are miles and miles of hiking trails that go through the park.
  • Beautiful picnic area with covered group areas.
  • Playground for the little ones.
My daughter helping get a batch of chili started. Would you like the recipe? Read to the bottom and I’ll show you how to get your hands on it.

The Hike

On our first day there, we went for a hike on the Lake Shore Trail. The round trip from our campsite was about 2.5 miles. The trail was beautiful so I took lots of pictures. Here are just a few if them.

This guy loves to walk on fences, rails, and anything else that tests his balance and his mother’s nerves!
See what I mean? Here he is standing on one of the fishing piers, slapping at the water with a stick that he found on our hike. He is 100% snakes and snails!
One of several fishing piers.
The picnic area is first class!
My son and a friend pretending to give an oratory at the amphitheater.
While on our hike, my daughter asked me to take her picture next to this 80 ft. pine tree.
More Love Mama has been my constant hiking companion for the past 30+ years.
So many colors. We picked the perfect weekend.
The weather was perfect for November.
Katriel, will be your tour guide for this mornings hike.
This crew never misses the opportunity to walk out on a fallen tree.
Quiet cove.
Not big enough for motor boats, but the three arms of this lake make for a great time exploring on your kayak or canoe.
Fall colors.
More fall colors.

Campground Cooking

For me, a giant part of camping, is cooking a great meal in my dutch oven and sitting around a campfire eating good food with friends. On this trip I cooked up a batch of chili. Almost everyone had seconds, so it must have turned out well.

Chili anyone?

We had no idea what to expect when we reserved our spot at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area. We were pleasantly surprised. In fact we had so much fun, that before we left, we and our friends were already talking about when we might get back there. Next time we will bring our kayaks. We’ll also make sure to reserve sites that have both electricity and water.

Brian Wood

Daddy Go To Timeout

P,S.

Hey! Would you like the recipe for the chili that we cooked in the dutch oven? Just sign up for my newsletter Timeout. I will include the recipe in my next issue which I will send to my subscribers on December 6. If you aren’t already receiving Timeout, I think that you would love to start receiving it. For one, I only send it out once or twice per month, so no harassment here. Inside Timeout you will find, bonus material concerning a recent or soon to be article. Links to all of my recent articles. Recipes, giveaways and more. If this sounds good to you, I encourage you to sign up for it. I totally promise not to sell your information. To start receiving Timeout newsletter, just click on the button below and fill out two measly fields. It literally takes 30 seconds,

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