Cross Timbers Hiking Trail at Lake Texoma

For a great hiking experience, come hike, bike, and kayak and/or camp on the Cross Timbers Hiking Trail at Lake Texoma near Gordonville, Texas. This trail runs near the shoreline on a finger-shaped bay of western Lake Texoma. With abundant wildlife and a natural trail, you will find an amazing adventure. Reviews from hikers who post their trips online report that camping and hiking this trail provides an amazing experience.

The Cross Timbers Hiking Trail at Lake Texoma is a little more than 14 miles long. U.S Army Corp of Engineers (U.S. ACE) owns and operates it. It begins at Juniper Point at the Willis Bridge and ends at Rock Creek Camp. It is a moderate-advanced skill level trail through an uninhabited area. Hikers need to be aware of snakes, coyotes, and a rare bobcat sighting.

The Cross Timbers Hiking Trail at Lake Texoma trailhead at Juniper Point Campground leads hikers over rocky ledges to Lost Camp and Cedar Bayou Marina. Along the trail, there are primitive campsites at Lost Camp on the Lost Creek loop, 5-Mile Camp, and Eagle’s Roost. You can find cabins and kayaks to rent, a store with supplies, and a microwave oven at Cedar Bayou Marina. From there, the trail heads west to 5 Mile Camp which is the most challenging part of the trail.

Cross Timbers Trail Camping & Hiking

Continuing on from 5 Mile Camp is a steep climb to flat terrain to Eagle’s Roost. The Cross Timbers Hiking Trail runs through Paw Paw Creek Resort to Paw Paw Point and ends at Rock Creek Camp on Rock Creek Road. There is no water or supplies available on the trail. You can park at Juniper Point Campground for free or at Cedar Bayou Marina for $5. It is best to arrange a ride back to your parking spot from Rock Creek road. 

Wildlife on the Trail

Camping at any of the campsites is exciting. You’ll hear the coyote songs and see a big sky with bright stars on clear nights while relaxing at your campfire. Hikers need to wear boots because of copperheads and rattlesnakes. You may run into a coyote. Coyotes usually shy away from humans. But, if you see one spread your legs and arms to appear bigger, wave your arms, and yell at it to scare it off.

Deer and birds are common sights, and you might see a fox, a cottontail rabbit, armadillos, and even a rare bobcat. In the warm months take insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers. If you see a bobcat, follow these instructions:

  • Immediately protect children and pets
  • Back away from the bobcat slowly and deliberately
  • Avoid running away because that could trigger a pursuit response
  • If possible, spray the animal with water
  • When possible make a lot of noise (banging pans, for instance, or blowing an air horn)

Tips for the Trail

The Cross Timbers Hiking Trail at Lake Texoma is well-marked with mile posts. Green arrows show hikers their trail to follow. Red arrows lead bikers around eroded areas not suitable for mountain biking. Campers will find fire rings and grills and are welcome to use dead wood as a fire source. Cutting live trees and plants is strictly prohibited on federal property. Campers must make sure their fires are completely out before leaving camp.

The Cross Timbers Hiking Trail is a beautiful reminder of what the Lake Texoma region looked like before settlement began around 1830. People using this trail must carry in enough water and food, and be prepared for an extended wilderness trip. To preserve its natural beauty, they must also carry out their refuse.

History of Cross Timbers Trail

The Cross Timbers divide the eastern forests and the southern plains and became the boundary between eastern Indian tribes and the Plains tribes. They stretch from southeast Kansas through central Oklahoma to just north of Waco, Texas. In Oklahoma, scientists found a 500-plus-year-old red cedar and a 400-year-old post oak in Keystone Ancient Forest Preserve close to Tulsa. The ancient forests in the Cross Timbers are becoming increasingly fragmented, but there are organizations in Oklahoma and Texas that strive for their preservation.

The Cross Timbers Hiking Trail at Lake Texoma is in the eastern belt of the Lower Cross Timbers. It is 25 miles wide, and follows a north-south path between Waco, Texas, and Sulphur, Oklahoma. Naturally occurring wildfires maintained the Cross Timbers ecosystem for thousands of years. As humans continued to develop the region, they suppressed fires which allowed invasive plant species to proliferate. Its natural ecosystem predominantly supported blackjack oak and post oak trees. The fires destroyed the saplings and allowed for grasses to take over. Since human development, the eastern red cedar has wormed its way into the Cross Timbers.

Washington Irving, the famous author of two timeless stories embedded in American minds, used the term Cross Timbers. In 1832, U.S. Indian Commissioner Henry Ellsworth invited Irving, already a famous writer, to join his expedition to Indian Territory on horseback through an unknown land full of bison, mountain lions, black bears, wolves, coyotes, and deer, plus Turkey, Bobwhite, and Mourning Dove. Irving said that he would not “easily forget the mortal toil and vexations of the flesh and spirits, that we underwent occasionally, in our wanderings through the Cross Timber. It was like struggling through forests of cast iron.”

In his book, Tour of the Prairies, in the eighteenth chapter, Irving writes about the Red River:

“About midday we reached the edge of that scattered belt of forest land, about forty miles in width, which stretches across the country from north to south, from the Arkansas to the Red River, separating the upper from the lower prairies, and commonly called the “Cross Timber.” On the skirts of this forest land, just on the edge of a prairie, we found traces of a Pawnee encampment of between one and two hundred lodges, showing that the party must have been numerous. The skull of a buffalo lay near the camp, and the moss which had gathered on it proved that the encampment was at least a year old. About half a mile off we encamped in a beautiful grove, watered by a fine spring and rivulet. Our day’s journey had been about fourteen miles.”

Experience Cross Timbers Trail at Lake Texoma

The trees you might see include blackjack oak, about 30-feet maximum height, which grow on rocky land, post oaks in sandy ground which might read 60-feet, and also bodark, chinaberry, cottonwood, elm, hackberry, hickory, pecan, and walnut. Native Americans found an abundant supply of mustang, possum, and sand-beach grapes along with dewberries, blackberries, mulberries, three kinds of plums, persimmons, and black haw and red haw viburnum.

If you love nature, primitive camping, hiking, backpacking, or mountain biking, the Cross Timbers Trail will sate your desires for an exciting adventure. People who review their trips on this trail describe it as exciting, amazing, beautiful, and maybe a bit overgrown at parts with tons of wildlife. The locals are friendly, helpful, and can give you more information. Grab your camping gear, backpacks, and mountain bikes, and come see pre-settlement north Texas at its finest. You can call Juniper Point at 903-523-4022 for information.

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Lake Texoma

Fishing Report from TPWD (May 15)

GOOD. Water normal stain; 67 degrees; 4.91 feet above pool. Striped bass fish are great using live shad on deep flats 50-60 feet of water and on humps along river ledges in 30-50 feet of water. Small schools of post spawn stripers with a lot of over 20 inch fish. Topwaters early along the rocks where shad are spawning as well. Bass fishing is good using live shad and top waters along the bluffs and dam wall in the clear water. Mudline is north and west of Washita Point with clear water on the southern end of the lake. Catfish are good on live shad and cut shad along the bluffs in 20-30 feet of water. Channel catfish are on the rocks in 5-10 feet of water, prepared baits and live shad are working. Crappie fishing is good on brush piles in 12-18 feet of water using jigs and live minnows catching them suspended around the structure and boat docks. Report by Jacob Orr, Guaranteed Guide Service Lake Texoma. Lake is flooded with floating debris so navigate with caution. Stripers can be caught along the mudlines, where the clear water and muddy water converge, with swimbaits and topwaters. Fish are moving around a lot but limits daily can be caught. Bait anglers are reeling in larger sized fish catches in deeper water. As the water starts to drop back down fish should return to the banks. There is sporadic bird action. Report by John Blasingame, Adventure Texoma Outdoors.

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