By Greg Ford
Texas, it’s said, is where the southwest and deep south meet, and depending which way one heads, there are various places to visit and things to see.
Should one decide to drive towards the south along I-20, past the Piney Woods, eventually he or she will reach the Louisiana border, and from there a trek into the bayous and parishes will lead to Lake Bistineau State Park in Doyline, La. The park is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and days preceding holidays.
With a history dating back to 1,800 — a dam created the current lake in 1935 — the park offers a summer getaway for campers, boaters, anglers, picnic goers or those who enjoy hiking along nature trails.
Anglers have the chance to cast a line for such water denizens as black crappie, largemouth bass, yellow bass, catfish, bluegill, and red-ear sunfish. Fishing can be done from the land, which includes a pier, as well as on the water, as boat rentals are available. The rentals for flat-bottom boats are $15 per day, which includes two paddles and three life jackets.
Canoes cost $5 per hour or $20 a day (life jackets and paddles included), while kayaks are $5 per hour or $20 a day (paddles and life jackets included).
Additional life jackets can be rented for $1 each where available, and visitors should check the state park site for availability and rates.
Whether one is a great outdoors person or prefers a little more luxury, such as a solid roof, the park offers amenities for all.
First, there are seven deluxe cabins that currently rent for $150 per day on Fridays and Saturdays. Items such as basic cookware, cooking utensils, dinnerware, silverware, towels and linens are provided. However, renters must bring their own food and personal supplies. These cabins sleep up to eight people.
There are also two group camps, where visitors must bring their own dishes, silverware, paper products, bathroom tissue, towels and linens. Group camp I costs $500 per night and includes a dining hall, kitchen and 20 cabins, which sleep up to 160 people, while groups camp II is $200 per night, and includes a dining hall, kitchen and six cabins that sleep up to 48 people.
There are also individual campsites; 44 with electrical hookup and water, and 17 others considered “premium” sites; five that accommodate “pull-through” campers and 12 others at sites that are considered prime locales. The cost for the 44 sites is $22 per night through September and $28 per evening for the 17 “premium” sites.
Those wanting to explore the park by foot or equine may do so too.
There are five walking trails: Willis Homestead Trail – 3.8 miles; Blue Wing Trail 1.2 miles; Koasati -2.0 miles; Pintail Loop Trail – 1.3 miles and Discovery Circle – .4 miles.
The six-mile equestrian trail is open to riders and their horses, with day use being $2 per person.
A certification of a clean Coggins test is required for all horses brought on State Park property, and riders should call ahead for the status of the trail.