Park Pick: Simple Solitude
Atlanta State Park offers quiet pleasures for the ultimate in relaxation.
By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers
Dense stands of loblollies and hardwoods. Stunning sunsets over a shimmering lake. Simple solitude. Lots of solitude. Earl Timmons of Shreveport, La., could go on and on about why he and his wife, Sandra, regularly camp at Atlanta State Park in far northeastern Texas.
“We take our travel trailer there once or twice every three months,” says Timmons, an insurance agent. “Sandra relaxes, reads and studies, and I sometimes work on business plans. We like to hike, too, with Daisy, our sweet fox terrier that we found several years ago abandoned in the park.
“Even if the park’s loaded up,” he adds, “and kids are everywhere, it’s still real quiet.”
Like the Timmonses, many visitors escape to this 1,475-acre getaway on the southern side of Lake Wright Patman to camp, kick back and enjoy nature. Fish, too. Anglers casting into the 20,300-acre reservoir from boat and shoreline often report fine catches of crappie and catfish. Canoe rentals are also available (inquire at headquarters).
Towering pines dominate much of the park’s forests. Like the loblollies, many of the native oaks — red, white, water and pin — stand 80 or 90 feet high. (Head’s up: No promises, but the fall foliage here can be spectacular. In the spring, _dogwoods burst into white blooms.) Approximately five miles of hiking and nature paths wind through the trees and across gently rolling hills.
Near the lake, fall visitors may also glimpse a pair of bald eagles that nest in the area. The majestic raptors migrate north before hot summer months, then return when temperatures cool. Brown-headed nuthatches, pine warblers and American goldfinches are just a few of many avian species that inhabit the park’s woodlands (a checklist of species is available).
Three camping areas offer a wide range of sites: pull-throughs and back-ins with water and electricity or full hookups. When they go, Timmons and his wife usually request a campsite in the Knight’s Bluff campground.
“From there, we like to walk to a scenic overlook in the day-use area, sit on a wooden bench and watch the sunset over the lake,” he says. “Daisy always goes, too, of course.”
Atlanta State Park is located 11 miles northwest of Atlanta and 20 miles southwest of Texarkana. Exit from U.S. Highway 59 onto FM 96; travel west nine miles to FM 1154, then north two miles to Park Road 42. For more park information, call 903-796-6476 or visit (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/atlanta).
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