Martin Dies, Jr. State Park is a hidden getaway in the East Texas Piney Woods. This haven is rich with a plush woodland landscape and multiple streams all within a diverse environment. Although it’s unknown to city-goers, this little park is full of recreational activities and great memories. The park was originally named Dam B. Park, but in 1965 it was renamed after Texas state senator, Martin Dies Jr., to thank him for all the work he had done for the park service.
The park stretches over 705 acres, but it’s within a 13,000-acre stretch of exemplary forested terrain. Visitors will find over 12 classic Texas trees ranging from loblolly pines to bald cypresses. There are many marked trails through the backwoods slough where sightseers can take in the breathtaking scenery near Spring Creek. If the shade from the trees isn’t enough to keep guests cool on a summer’s day, they can jump into one of the refreshing adjoining rivers, the Neches and the Angelina. Tourists can take a glance at the wildlife and vegetation that thrive around the rivers and off the B.A. Steinhagen 10,000-acre lake. Whether visitors want to swim, kayak, or fish; this lake has endless opportunities.
Photo: @dylanwhatson via Twenty20
After recreational activities, guests can retire to an evening of stargazing. The park is far away from any city’s pollution and is known for its starry nights. There is camping out under the stars in one of roughly 200 campsites accommodated with electricity, water, a picnic table, lantern posts, and a fire ring. Cabins and screen shelters are also available along with group campsites.
The Martin Dies Jr. State Park also has a rich history. The Neches River was named after one of the Caddoan tribes who lived in the region before the settlers arrived in the 1820s. The river went on to be used as a steamboat route for trade before the lumberjacks cut down most of the forest in 1907. However, visitors today are still known to find artifacts of the tribes that once lived on the land, such as pottery and handmade instruments.