Kind Reader, Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is a beautiful destination nestled in the piney woods of East Texas. This outdoor haven boasts scenic hiking trails, a tranquil lake perfect for fishing and swimming, and plenty of opportunities for camping and picnicking. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful day trip or a weekend getaway, Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
About Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is a breathtakingly beautiful forest lake found in the Davey Crockett National Forest. Named after an early sawmill settlement, the serene location in Houston County welcomes guests from all over the world for swimming, fishing, and camping. The dense pine trees surrounding Ratcliff Lake offer plenty of shade, making it a popular destination for travelers seeking an escape from the summer heat.
Things to Do at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy around the lake, making Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area the perfect destination for nature lovers. Here are some popular things to do:
Camping at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
Camping is the most popular activity at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, and there are a total of 51 campsites available. Forty-five of these campsites can be reserved while six remain open for first-come-first-served campers. Each campsite is equipped with a picnic table, fire ring, and access to shared restrooms.
Fishing at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is home to an abundant population of fish, with anglers most commonly catching largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie. The fishing season begins on the first Tuesday of November and ends on the last day of February.
Hiking at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
The park offers two hiking trails: the four-mile Trail Around the Lake and the one-mile Armadillo Hill Nature Trail. The Trail Around the Lake can be used for hiking and biking while the Armadillo Hill Nature Trail is perfect for leisurely walks.
Swimming at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area boasts a beautiful sandy beach perfect for swimming. There is no lifeguard on duty, so visitors are advised to swim at their own risk. Pets are also not allowed in the swim area.
Picnicking at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
For those looking for a quieter activity, you can pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic at one of the many tables provided. There are several picnic areas located throughout the park, so there is no shortage of places to set up for a relaxing meal.
Boating at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
You can go boating on Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area as long as the boat’s motor is no larger than ten horsepower. Canoes, kayaks, and rowboats are also available for rent for those who don’t have their own boats.
Location of Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
The Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is located in Houston County, which is in the eastern part of Texas, USA. The GPS coordinates of the park are latitude: 31.35480N and longitude: -95.18682W. To reach the park, visitors need to take US 59 to Ratcliff, Texas, and follow the signs leading to the park. It is situated amidst the Davy Crockett National Forest and is surrounded by lush green forests, giving visitors a visually appealing experience.
The park’s location provides easy access to many recreational activities. Visitors can enjoy swimming, hiking, boating, hunting, fishing, and sightseeing. It’s a perfect location for families and nature lovers. The surrounding area is peaceful, making it a great place for a relaxing vacation away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Things to Do at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
The Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area provides various leisure activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some things you can do at the park:
The park boasts a beautiful lake that is perfect for swimming. The clear water and the sandy beach make it an ideal spot for families and kids.
Boating enthusiasts can enjoy the park’s lake and rent different types of boats such as paddle boats, canoes, or kayaks from the park’s concession.
The park’s hiking trail is approximately 0.5 miles long and runs along the lake’s edge. Visitors can take a walk, enjoy a picnic, and appreciate the beauty of the woods.
The Ratcliff Lake is perfect for fishing, with an abundance of catfish, bass, and sunfish. Visitors can fish in the lake by using a valid fishing license and following the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s guidelines.
The park offers multiple sites for camping and RV enthusiasts. Visitors can choose from 53 campsites to spend the night or for longer stretches of time. Each campsite has a picnic table, grill, and a fire pit.
The park allows hunting, but visitors must obtain a valid state hunting license and follow the park’s regulations and guidelines.
The park has beautiful scenic views, and visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the forest by taking a leisurely stroll in the park or driving on the nearby roads.
Activities at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
The Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Here are some of the activities you can enjoy during your visit to Ratcliff Lake:
There are several hiking trails at Ratcliff Lake that offer a variety of terrain and difficulty levels. The trails range from easy strolls to challenging hikes, so there’s something for everyone. One popular trail is the 2.5-mile Lake Loop Trail, which takes you around the entire lake and offers scenic views of the water.
Ratcliff Lake is known for its excellent fishing opportunities. The lake is stocked with catfish, bass, and sunfish, and anglers can fish from the shore or from a boat. There’s a designated fishing area on the north side of the lake, and visitors can also rent boats from the park office.
The lake is a popular spot for swimming, and there’s a designated swimming area on the south side of the lake. The water is clean and clear, and there are lifeguards on duty during the summer months. Visitors can also enjoy sunbathing on the sandy beach.
There are several picnic areas at Ratcliff Lake, and they offer a perfect spot for a family outing or a romantic picnic. The tables are shaded by tall trees, and there are grills available for cooking. Visitors can also enjoy a game of horseshoes or volleyball.
Visitors can rent paddleboats, canoes, or kayaks from the park office and explore the lake at their leisure. Boats are available for rent from March to October, and life jackets are provided. There’s also a boat ramp for visitors who want to bring their own boats.
The Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is home to a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, raccoons, and various species of birds. Visitors can explore the area and try to spot some of these creatures in their natural habitats.
The park also offers a 6.8-mile bike trail which runs along the creek. It’s a great way to explore the park and get some exercise at the same time.
|1||Try different types of bait to see what the fish are biting on. Some popular baits include worms, minnows, and artificial lures.|
|2||Find a good spot to fish. Look for areas with good cover, such as fallen trees or rocks, where fish might be hiding.|
|3||Pay attention to the weather and time of day. Fish are more active during certain times and weather conditions.|
Camping at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
Camping at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is an excellent way to experience the great outdoors. The campgrounds offer a variety of sites to fit any camping preference, including RV-specific sites and more primitive tent sites. All of the campsites offer fire pits and picnic tables, as well as access to modern restrooms and hot showers.
Types of Campsites
There are several different types of campsites available at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area. For RV enthusiasts, there are RV sites with electric and water hookups, as well as full-hookup sites that include sewer connections. These sites are all located within a short walk of the lake and offer plenty of room for both your RV and accompanying gear.
If you prefer a more primitive camping experience, there are also a number of tent sites available. These sites are located in wooded areas throughout the park and offer an excellent opportunity to truly commune with nature.
Reservations and Fees
Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is a popular camping destination, especially during peak season, and reservations are strongly recommended. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance by calling the park office or by using the online reservation system.
The cost of camping at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is $16 per night for tent sites and $22 per night for RV sites.
Note: The park operates on a first-come, first-served basis during the off-season (November 1 through March 31), but camping fees still apply.
Things to do near Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
Aside from fishing, swimming, and hiking, there are other fun activities to do near Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area that the whole family can enjoy. Here are some suggestions:
Explore Davy Crockett National Forest
Adjacent to Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is the Davy Crockett National Forest, a beautiful expanse of woodland that covers 160,000 acres. There are several hiking trails, camping sites, and recreational areas that visitors can use. This is the perfect destination for those who love the great outdoors and want to explore the flora and fauna of Texas.
Visit Mission Tejas State Park
Located just a few miles away from Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is Mission Tejas State Park. This historic site marks the location of the first Spanish mission in Texas established in 1690. Visitors can explore the replica of the mission which features a thatched roof chapel, granary, and blockhouse. There are also several hiking trails, picnic sites, and campsites available.
Try out Geocaching
Geocaching is a fun outdoor activity that combines hiking, treasure hunting, and technology. Participants use GPS coordinates to find hidden containers filled with trinkets and surprises. There are several geocaching sites near Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area that visitors can try out. This is a great activity for families with children who love to explore and discover new things.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area offers a scavenger hunt activity that visitors can participate in. The activity involves hiking and searching for hidden items along the way. This is a fun way to explore the park and discover its hidden treasures. The scavenger hunt activity is perfect for families and groups of friends who want to bond over a fun adventure.
For avid fishermen, Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area offers fishing tournaments throughout the year. These tournaments feature cash prizes and are open to both amateurs and professionals. This is a great opportunity to show off your fishing skills and compete with fellow fishermen.
Celebrate Fourth of July
Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area hosts an annual Fourth of July celebration that features live music, food stalls, and a spectacular fireworks display. This is a great event for families and friends who want to celebrate Independence Day in a fun and festive way.
Attend Christmas in the Pines
Christmas in the Pines is an annual event hosted by Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area during the holiday season. Visitors can enjoy Christmas lights, holiday music, and festive decorations. There are also food stalls, vendors, and a visit from Santa Claus. This is a great event for families who want to experience the holiday spirit in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Wildlife in Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
The Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is a place for nature enthusiasts to observe local wildlife. The animals that can be seen in Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area include white-tailed deer, foxes, otters, bobcats, hogs, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, and beavers, among others. Visitors are always encouraged to keep a safe distance from wildlife and never feed them.
The white-tailed deer is the state mammal of Texas and can be found across the state, including Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area. Visitors can spot these magnificent creatures walking gracefully through the woods. The best time to see them is at dawn and dusk. It is important to remember not to approach or feed them, because they are still wild animals.
Bobcats are elusive and usually not easy to spot. The best time to see them is at dawn and dusk. These beautiful creatures are solitary and are usually found roaming around looking for prey.
The Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is also home to a variety of birds. Bird watchers will have a field day spotting and listening to the different species of birds in the area. Some of the birds in the Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area include the Eastern bluebird, Acadian flycatcher, golden-fronted woodpecker, painted bunting, and indigo bunting.
Hunting is allowed within the Davy Crockett National Forest and the Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, but only during certain times of the year and with a valid hunting permit. Visitors are encouraged to contact the park rangers for information on hunting seasons and regulations.
Ratcliff Lake is a prime location for fishing enthusiasts, and anglers can catch a variety of fish such as bass, catfish, and crappie. Fishing is allowed year-round in Texas State Parks, but visitors must have a valid Texas fishing license.
Best Time to Visit Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is a year-round destination that offers a variety of activities throughout the year. However, the best time to visit Ratcliff Lake is during the spring and fall months when the temperatures are mild, and the scenery is picturesque. During the spring season, visitors can enjoy the vibrant wildflowers that cover the area, and in the fall, the foliage puts on a spectacular show of colors ranging from golden yellow to deep burnt orange.
Camping in the Spring at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
Spring is a fantastic time to camp at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area. Visitors can experience the beauty of the forest as it comes back to life after the cold winter months. With comfortable temperatures and low humidity, campers can sleep under the stars without feeling too cold or too hot. During this time of year, popular activities include fishing, hiking, and swimming. RV and tent campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to book your spot early.
Hiking in the Fall at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area
If you’re a fan of hiking, the fall season at Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is an excellent time to hit the trails. The cooler temperatures and the stunning foliage make for an unforgettable hiking experience. The area has over four miles of hiking trails that cater to hikers of every skill level. From the short and easy Sawmill Hiking Trail to the challenging 20-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail, there is something for everyone.
Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area FAQ
Find answers to common questions and concerns about the Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area.
1. What are the operating hours of the recreation area?
The recreation area is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
2. Are there any fees to enter the area?
Yes, there is a day-use fee of $5 per vehicle.
3. Can I bring my pets to the recreation area?
Yes, pets are allowed in the recreation area but must be on a leash at all times.
4. Is swimming allowed in the lake?
Yes, swimming is allowed in the designated swimming area of the lake. Please swim at your own risk as there are no lifeguards on duty.
5. What facilities are provided in the recreation area?
The recreation area provides picnic areas, hiking trails, a fishing pier, a boat ramp, restrooms, and a playground.
6. Can I camp at the recreation area?
Yes, there is a campground that offers tent and RV camping sites. Reservations can be made in advance.
7. Are there any restrictions on fishing in the lake?
Yes, there are fishing restrictions in place. Please refer to Texas Parks and Wildlife for specific regulations and guidelines.
8. Can I rent boats or kayaks at the recreation area?
No, there are no boat or kayak rentals available at the recreation area. Visitors must bring their own watercraft.
9. Is there a limit to the number of people that can be in a group?
Yes, groups exceeding 10 individuals are required to obtain a group permit for a fee of $35.
10. What is the closest town to the recreation area?
The town of Kennard is located approximately 10 miles from the recreation area.
11. Can I bring my own grill for a picnic?
Yes, visitors are allowed to bring their own grills for picnics. However, fires are only allowed in designated fire rings or grills.
12. Is hunting allowed in the recreation area?
No, hunting is not permitted in the recreation area.
13. Are there any guided tours of the recreation area?
No, guided tours are not available at the recreation area.
14. Can I ride my bike on the trails?
Yes, biking is allowed on designated trails in the recreation area.
15. Are there any age restrictions for the playground?
No, there are no age restrictions for the playground. However, adult supervision is recommended for younger children.
16. Is there a swimming pool in the recreation area?
No, there is no swimming pool in the recreation area.
17. Can I have a bonfire in the recreation area?
No, bonfires are not allowed in the recreation area. Fires are only permitted in designated fire rings or grills.
18. How far is the lake from the campground?
The lake is located within the recreation area, and campsites are within walking distance of the lake.
19. Is there any cell phone service in the recreation area?
Cell phone service may be limited in the recreation area due to its remote location.
20. Can I fish from a boat in the lake?
Yes, visitors are allowed to fish from boats, canoes, or kayaks on the lake.
21. Is there a store or concession stand in the recreation area?
No, there is no store or concession stand in the recreation area. Visitors must bring their own food and beverages.
22. Is there a limit to the number of RVs that can park in a campsite?
Yes, only one RV or trailer is allowed per campsite.
23. Can I hunt for geocaches in the recreation area?
No, geocaching is not allowed in the recreation area.
24. Is there a limit to the number of bags of trash I can dispose of?
No, there is no limit to the amount of trash that can be disposed of in the provided trash receptacles.
25. What should I do if I encounter wildlife in the recreation area?
Visitors should always keep a safe distance from wildlife and not feed them. It is important to remember that the recreation area is home to a variety of wild animals such as snakes, alligators, and bears.
For more information about Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, check out this listmixer.com article. It provides details about camping, fishing, hiking and more activities available at the park.
Until Next Time, Nature Awaits, Kind Reader
As we come to the end of our journey in Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, we hope you have found our experience here to be as inviting as we did. From picnics by the shore to fishing expeditions, there is something to satisfy everyone’s outdoor cravings. The scenic nature trails promise an adventure that is sure to leave an indelible impression on your mind. Thank you for taking this journey with us. Until next time, Kind Reader, keep exploring, keep discovering and keep making memories.