Of all the trails at Tyler State Park the D Loop is my favorite. At just over 2 miles it’s not the longest trail in the park, but the fun lies in all the elevation changes–lots of steep slopes where the tree roots stick out like natural staircases. It’s very satisfying to get a running start and charge uphill, and I’m looking forward to the day when I’ve had a little more trail riding experience and can attempt those hills on my bike.
D Loop is a shady trail almost entirely in the woods; in the summer it’s hot and stuffy and still, but in the fall (as seen in the photos below) it’s more than nice, especially when it’s been raining a lot and the sluggish streams the trail crosses here and there turn into pleasantly babbling brooks.
It’s an easy trail to follow–there aren’t a lot of markers, but it’s mostly straightforward. There’s one “off ramp” leading to the Cedar Point camping area, and one place in the middle where it intersects with C Loop. A quick glance of the trail map should clear up any confusion, but I personally like bundling D and C together for one healthy 3.5-mile hike.
D Loop is well maintained, in part by the park staff but also with the help of volunteers such as the East Texas Trail Advocacy non-profit group. It’s a modern trail that follows the contours of the land in curves and switchbacks, like all the trails at Tyler State park–except for the Whispering Pines trail near the park entrance. (Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 30s/early 40s, Whispering Pine features a very long, very straight hike uphill with actual wooden stairs built in, and is a good example of how far trail construction has come along, although it’s currently undergoing development and is already a lot more interesting.)
D Loop is popular with hikers and bikers for good reason, and if you’re looking for a well-maintained trail that will really work your leg muscles then this one’s for you.
The A Loop a pleasant, moderately-difficult hiking and biking trail with lots of switchbacks and some nice elevation changes, plus some very pretty views of the Tyler State Park forest.
You can park at the Blackjack camping area then walk back up the road just a little bit to get onto the trailhead.
I’m sorry to say that I tend to forget about A Loop (my favorite trails are the more-challenging C and D Loops at the opposite side of the park) but I enjoyed it so much during my last walk that I’m going to work it into my regular hiking rotation from now on.
All the hiking/biking loops are connected so you could, if you wanted, hike for over 9 miles without interruptions!
A Loop is listed in the official Tyler State Park Trail map as being 2.53 miles long and taking 1.5 hours to complete, although it was closer to 1.25 hours for me (including time to stop and take photos.)
In the photos below I started at the shared EZ Loop/A Loop trailhead and went clockwise.
There are so many wonderful trails at Tyler State Park, but in this post I’m walking the popular Lakeshore trail. This path goes all the way around the lake and is easily accessible from from all the day use areas and most of the camping loops (Cedar Point and the cabins are the exceptions.) There are some pretty little beach-like spots along the south and south-east shorelines where you can enter the lake to swim, fish or launch a kayak and there are benches here and there where you can take a breather. Of all the trails in the park this one has the best views and some really nice spots to take photos.
The Lakeshore trail is mostly flat, although there are a few places where it forks and you can choose to take the easier path on higher ground, or get down closer to the lake where you’ll have to navigate tree roots and some washed-out areas.
There are also a couple of places where the trail vanishes completely: through the Lakeview RV and tent camping loop, through the boat ramp parking lot (you’ll have to briefly get on the road to cross a short bridge) and through the whole Northside park store and swimming areas. Just follow the lake and the trail will reappear.
The official Tyler State Park trail map lists Lakeshore as 2.1 miles long and taking 1.5 hours to complete, but I’ve made it in under an hour even when stopping to take 10-15 photos (I am a fast walker, though.)
Tyler State Park is teeming with wildlife! Fish, turtles and snakes in the lake; insects, armadillos and deer in the woods; birds in the air and in the trees. Oh, and raccoons. Raccoons in the bushes, raccoons in the trees, raccoons in the bathrooms, raccoons in your tent site, raccoons in your car! I do love them, though. Who among us hasn’t had the occasional urge to pig out all night and pass out in a dumpster?
I chose the username “trashpanda” for this blog because I can’t think of the park without thinking of raccoons—and I also spend many of my working hours there picking up trash.
Below are some recent photos of the critters of TSP. So far I haven’t been able to get good shots of the deer, wild pigs or the park’s lovely pileated woodpeckers, but I have big plans for long lenses and will keep adding to this page.