Park Pick: Peace and Beauty
Slowing down at Huntsville State Park includes kayak fishing and family fun.
By Ted Pick
A tunnel of trees engulfs my car as it turns off Interstate 45 and follows Park Road 40 to the entrance of Huntsville State Park. The green canopy serves as a portal that moves me from the rush of everyday life to a world where time slows down considerably.
I begin to notice small details, and feel my heart slow to a steady, peaceful thump. I’m reminded that this feeling has been shared by park visitors for ages.
“I’ve been coming here 45 years. I raised my children here, and then I started bringing their children here,” says Nelly Farley, a frequent camper at the park. “I’d load up five grandkids at one time and here we came! They bring their children here now.”
Entering the East Texas park and looking through the light and shadows playing on my windshield, I can easily understand what inspired Nelly to keep returning during those decades.
I spy a lone angler, enjoying the solitude as he fishes for bass from his kayak on Lake Raven. The smell of fish frying fills the air, so others have already caught their dinner. A family picnicking beneath the trees are the probable diners.
In addition to fishing, the park features 20 miles of trails for those who like to hike.
The park also holds flashes of color, as American beautyberry bushes show off their vivid, purple berries around the park’s Nature Center. Not only do the berries provide a splash of color, they also attract birds and other wildlife; as a bonus, mosquitoes steer clear of the plant.
Huntsville State Park also offers lovely historical buildings, like Raven Lodge. It was built in 1939 by Civilian Conservation Corps Company 1823, an African American unit that also helped build Abilene and Palmetto state parks.
At this moment, Raven Lodge is hosting a wedding. I can easily imagine the bride and groom surrounded by family and friends within the lodge’s solid stone walls. What a perfect setting.
Bruce and Judy Bennet, our current park camp hosts, always tell me, “Being here at Huntsville State Park isn’t work, it’s play.” I have to smile in agreement as I leave my car and enter, on foot, the park that I call home.
Check with headquarters or the park website for information about events and activities. The park, 6 miles south of Huntsville, can fill up on busy weekends, so plan ahead. Call (936) 295-5644 or visit tpwd.texas.gov/huntsville.
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