Complete 3-Day Itinerary for Exploring Caddo Lake

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Caddo Lake has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time. Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas.

Bald cypress trees draped with Span­ish moss tower over the maze of bayous, sloughs and ponds of Caddo Lake. It is beautiful!

Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park Katie Kinsley

One of the main reasons I’ve been wanting to go to Caddo Lake is to explore the Caddo Lake State Park. I’ve been trying to explore more of what Texas has to offer by visiting different state parks, but we haven’t made it a travel priority.

At Caddo Lake State Park, you can fish, paddle, hike, picnic, camp or stay in a cabin, and go boating.

Caddo Lake State Park Bald Cypress Tree

The park is relatively small for a state park.

Caddo Lake State Park Bald Cypress Tree Spanish Moss

Caddo Lake State Park Hiking Trails

Caddo Lake State Park Caddo Forrest Trail Head

The Caddo Lake State Park hiking trails are fairly short as well. We chose to hike one path on Friday afternoon and one path on Saturday afternoon with our dogs.

  • Pine Ridge Trailhead – 0.7 miles – Looking for a hike in the hills? Follow this trail to see the lesser-known side of Caddo Lake State Park. Note: Portions of the trail are steep.
  • Caddo Forrest Trail – 0.7 miles – Experience the historical and natural world of Caddo Lake State Park all in a short walk through the woods. Note: There are two sections of steps.

Colt and Hank were very tired as soon as we were done with the hike. They fell asleep in the back of the truck.

Dogs Sleeping After Hike

Where to Stay

If you like camping, you can stay at one of the 46 campsites, screened shelters, or historic cabins that the state park has to offer. Or you can stay in Historic Jefferson, TX, which is about 30 miles away from Caddo Lake.

Airbnb

I had a trial and error on Airbnb because I haven’t used the service in years (and I’ve never tried to bring dogs before).

I booked a cabin that listed that allowed dogs – I booked and didn’t think about it again. When I logged in to complete the other half of my payment a couple weeks later, I noticed that there was a message about registering the dogs. I checked the listing again and, in fine print they listed that they do not allow dogs over 30lbs. I messaged to say I didn’t see the fine print, but they said no and I had to cancel. And I had to forfeit half of my payment! Grr.

Side note: The thing about Airbnb with dogs is that there is either a “yes” or “no” option. For the first listing to put in a stipulation about the size of the dogs it was in an area that I had to click a + on to expand the section. It was hidden. I would love to see a dog-seize feature like this built into Airbnb booking instead of the yes/no.

I found another listing for an entire cabin. When I booked it, I sent a message asking if there were any stipulations about the size of the dogs. They said no; they accept dogs of all sizes.

Airbnb Serenity House

I love, love, love this cabin – called Serenity House. It’s a beautiful A-Frame building on stilts.

Airbnb Serenity House Backyard
Airbnb Serenity House Boathouse

The cabin has three bedrooms with room to sleep nine people. It was much bigger than we needed, but with the short amount of time I had to find a new cabin (since I was forced to cancel the other listing) this one is so much better. It was a little bit more pricey at $300 per night, but we got the entire house to ourselves and the dogs.

Airbnb Serenity House view from loft

Tip for Airbnb with Dogs: We brought out two over-60lb dogs with us. We traveled with two large kennels and placed them in the kitchen of the cabin. If we left the dogs at the cabin, we locked them inside of the kennels.

Airbnb Serenity House View at Night

Boat Ride through Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake Boat Tour Hank

The only thing I wanted to do (and reached out ahead of time) was go on a boat ride through the lake. I found a review on Trip Advisor that listed Ole Jigger Caddo Lake Adventures as the only option out there to bring a dog with.

Caddo Lake Boat Views

That was such a great decision to book with Mike Griffis! All of the trips with Mike, the Ole Jigger, are private and scheduled at your convenience.

Caddo Lake Boat Views

We went on a 1.5 hour pontoon tour on a 25 ft. Bennington barge. On the tour, we explored the lower portion of the Big Cypress River and the upper portion of Caddo Lake with Hank. This tour covered a lot of the most popular areas of the lake. We didn’t bring Colt because we weren’t sure how he would do on a boat.

Caddo Lake Boat Tour Zack and Katie

Jefferson, TX

Jefferson, TX was once the largest inland port in Texas. This pre-civil war town has scenic streets, charming restaurants, quaint bed & breakfasts, historic hotels, RVs and picturesque landscapes. Jefferson is the perfect setting for your weekend getaway.

Things to do in Jefferson, TX

  1. Howe Truss Train Trestle
  2. Jefferson Ordnance Magazine (1863)
  3. Jay Gould’s Private Rail Car
  4. Ghost Walking Tour
  5. Historic Jefferson Narrated Tour
  6. Self Guided Walking Tour
  7. Historic Jefferson Railway

Lonesome Drove Drive Thru Safari

Where to Eat

Since we stayed right near Caddo Lake, we only had one restaurant close to us. The second restaurant, RiverBend, is permanently closed.

Big Pines Lodge

Big Pines Lodge

The Big Pines Lodge has been a restaurant on the bayou since the 1950s. It serves lots of fried fish, some alligator options, and anything from steaks to burgers.

📍 747 Pine Island Rd, Karnack, TX 75661

Red Bus Cupcakes

Red Bus Cupcakes

Miss Kitty, the so aptly-named double-decker bus from England, is the home to Red Bus Cupcakes – a boutique wedding bakery. On Polk street you’ll find the shop open for cupcakes and ice cream. You can even sit in the upper deck to enjoy your desserts!

📍 302 N. Polk, Jefferson, TX 75657

Auntie Skinner's Riverboat Club

Auntie Skinner’s Riverboat Club

Auntie Skinner’s is located in a historic 1850s building in downtown Jefferson, Texas. When you walk up to it you definitely get a feeling that you’re in New Orleans with the three double-doors in the front with fan windows. It serves burgers and sandwiches and has a full-service bar.

📍 107 W Austin St, Jefferson, TX 75657

Wrap up

I could definitely see myself heading back to Caddo Lake again soon – there is still so much left to explore. Have you been before? What are your favorite sites?

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