What to do in Martin Creek Lake State Park

Martin Creek Lake State Park, which consists of 286.9 acres, is located in Rusk County, southeast of Longview. It was deeded to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by the Texas Utilities Generating Company on June 23, 1976, and was opened to the public the same year. The park is located on 5000-acre Martin Creek Lake, constructed to provide cooling water for a lignite-fired, electric power generation plant.

The park and surrounding area have been inhabited by people since 200 B.C. Until the 18th century, Caddoan Indians and Spanish explorers lived in and traveled through this area. Later the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Kickapoo Indians migrated here in response to the increasing influx of Anglo Americans. Visitors can still see the old roadbed of Trammel's Trace near the fishing pier. It was an Indian Trail that became a major route for settlers moving to Texas from Arkansas. In 1833, Daniel Martin, for whom the park is named, settled with his family near the creek called Hogan's Bayou at the time. He and his neighbors eventually built a small fort and then a town called Harmony Hill. It reached its heyday after the Civil War, but it was deserted by 1900 and struck by a tornado in 1906. Only one Civil War era building remains today, and it has been converted into a storage shed. Traces of the old roads that brought prosperity to Harmony Hill can still be seen in the park and are part of the hiking trail.

The Martin Creek Lake State Park offers users a wide spectrum of outdoor activities. Probably one of the more popular activities is fishing in the lake. This can be done from pier, boat or shore and is available 12 months of the year. An annual perch fishing contest is held for children ages 4 to 12 is held the first Saturday in September. Other popular water based activities include boating, paddle boating, canoeing, waterskiing and unsupervised lake swimming.

Because area has abundant wildlife there are ample opportunities for wildlife observation and photography. There is also a 1.5 mile hiking trail and a 6-mile mountain bike trail. Visitors have the choice to either camp or sleep in a cabin.

On Friday and Saturday there are interpretive programs. Lake Tours are available year-round; $15 per person; group rates for 10 or more persons. For reservations, call 903/643-7358.

During fall, usually late October through the first two weeks of November, is a particularly scenic time at Martin Creek. Visitors can marvel at the colorful foliage displayed by the many varieties of hardwoods, interspersed with loblolly and short-leaf pine trees.

This forest shelters abundant wildlife including gophers, swamp rabbits, nutria, white-tailed deer, raccoons, armadillos, and squirrels. Park visitors enjoy excellent year-round fishing, due to water warmed by the power plant. Fish include large-mouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, perch, ball, and sunfish. Among the most commonly seen birds are mallard ducks, great blue herons, green-backed herons, great egrets, northern cardinals, blue jays, red-headed woodpeckers, bobwhites, and northern mockingbirds.

Facilities include restrooms with showers; hike-in primitive campsites with no drinking water available (one of the primitive areas is located on an island accessed via a charming wooden bridge); campsites with water and electricity (all have fire rings and picnic tables); screened shelters; 2 cottages (converted screened shelters which have been air-conditioned and heated, have water, electricity and bunk beds - capacity 5; a group picnic pavilion; a 1.5 mile hiking trail; a 6-mile mountain bike trail; a 4-lane concrete boat ramp; a trailer dump station; a playground; and a lighted fishing pier. Two cabins accommodate 6; no additional persons authorized. They have central air and heat, kitchen with 4-burner stove and oven, refrigerator, coffee maker, screened back porch, and outdoor smoker/cooker. There are no fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. No bath or bed linens are provided.

Nearby attractions include Caddo Lake State Park and Starr Family and Texas State Railroad State Historical Parks; and the historic Cities of Marshall, Longview, Kilgore, and Henderson.

For reservations, call 512/389-8900. Current weather conditions, including fire bans and water levels, can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Recreational opportunities offered by the Martin Creek Lake State Park include, wildlife observation and photography, interpretive programs, lake tours, fishing, swimming, canoeing, paddle boating, boating, waterskiing, camping, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and cabins.

Martin Creek Lake State Park is situated within the Pineywoods area of Texas. The park is located 20 miles southeast of Longview. Travel 3.5 miles southwest of Tatum on State Highway 43, then turn south on County Road 2183.

Martin Creek Lake State Park is located at an elevation of 385 feet. Temperatures within the park range from an average January minimum temperature of 35 degrees to an average July maximum temperature of 94 degrees. The average annual rainfall is 46.5 inches. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

RR 2 Box 20
Tatum, TX 75691

Phone: 903/836-4336

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