Huntsville State Park

Over the Easter weekend we camped at Huntsville State Park, north of Houston. It was a bit of a drive, 185 miles, from our Lakeway home. But we’ve wanted to camp here since attending a wedding at the park in January and all the closer Texas State Parks were booked. We arrived after dark, not something we like to do, and picked a waterfront spot. It was a little challenging backing in the darkness, but we got help from fellow campers and got it done. The spot fell away towards the lake and we had to lower the tongue jack down all the way to get the rig level. But when we awoke the next morning, we were in the edge of a small cove and had a great view of the lake.

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Raven Lake looking upstream

We had an interesting campsite that was the first one on a loop. The waterfront sites are shallow and have side-by-side vehicle parking.  Also, our table and fire ring were on the other side of the trailer. At first thought not to be the best, but as it turned out it was pretty nice since we had no neighbors on that side.

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Prairie Branch Loop #145

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Our wrong-sided space

We always start with a little campground tour and found the trail head for the Prairie Branch Loop. As you can see in the photo below, this park is heavily wooded and beautiful. A pleasant change from the other Texas State Parks we’ve visited. We decided to do this hike later – and we did. See below.

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Mary Lou and Chloe investigating the trail

Since leaving California I’ve missed pine trees but here they are. These are loblolly pines and are spectacular.

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Loblolly pines

We did a little jeep exploring and went over to the day use area on the other side of the park. There’s a small store, boat rentals and swim beach. Since it was Houston-typical hot and humid, it was in full use.

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Day use area

In the mood for some serious relaxing, we returned to the camp site, put out the awning and enjoyed the view. If I recall, cocktails appeared at some point.

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Chilling by the lake

There were a couple of brief showers that caused us to schooch up against the trailer to avoid getting wet, but they were short-lived. We got a chance to use our outdoor kitchen again.

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Lunch, anyone?

While we were sitting in hot muggy weather around the campfire, a cold front moved through. The temperature dropped 20 degrees and a light breeze came up. It was lovely. That was the end of the hot muggy weather and in fact there was rain predicted for later.

The next morning after breakfast we headed out to do the Prairie Branch Loop. We chose to do the loop counterclockwise heading first through the forest and then returning along the lake. There are a number of creeks, including the Prairie Branch, that meander into the lake creating a swampy area. They built these boardwalks that we really liked. Chloe was less fond of them as her rear feet would slip through the spaces between the boards.

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Into the forest

Some wild flowers along the way and an orange fungus growing on a downed log.

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Orange fungus

We reached a second boardwalk and checking the map discovered we had missed the turn to loop back along the lake and were now at the confluence of Alligator Branch creek. But is was nice so we were happy we did.

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Alligator branch
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Looking upriver

Although we saw no gators, there are signs around warning of their presence, including one on the fishing pier that requested Please Don’t Tease the Alligators! We briefly considered continuing on the trail to do the full 6 mile around the lake walk, it was still early, but we hadn’t brought our packs or enough water for that. We backtracked until we found the loop trail that followed the lake and took it back to the camp. It was a short 2 mile hike and we thought we might do another after lunch. That never happened.

There were a few kayaks and canoes on the lake and we planned on taking ours out. Each time we thought it was time, the wind would come up and we’d defer. In the end, we never did. I was a little disappointed, but got over it. We just hung around the camp enjoying the view.

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That night there was a prediction of rain. When we got back from our evening dog walk we noticed the huge family camp next door was deserted. In the time we took the walk they had packed up three or four tents, dining canopy, bikes, lights and were gone.  We assumed they were fleeing ahead of the weather.  The prediction of storms was fulfilled as a monster thunderstorm rolled right over us in the middle of the night. We were snug inside the trailer and the thunder and heavy rain were awesome. Unfortunately, there were lots of tent campers in the park, and I’m sure it was less pleasant for them. In the morning we walked the loop and everyone was packing up. By 1:00 90% of the campers were gone.

We pulled out around 3:00 and were greeted by this bunny on the way, after all it was Easter Sunday.

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The real Easter bunny