Here, as I promised some time ago, is the first installment in my series of pieces concerning the various attractions in the park.
I’m starting with the unimproved campsites.
Before I even get started, let me offer as a disclaimer of sorts – I am a tent camper from way back. I have camped most ways that a person is able to camp, from rough on the ground like a cowboy, to every class of RV’s, to cabins with all the modern conveniences. Tent camping draws me back time and time again: all the necessary romance and “outdoorsy” experience, without the extreme hardships of backcountry, sleeping rough on the ground camping. These are my favorite campsites in the park. Not only that, but generally speaking, these are my favorite types of campsites no matter where I’m camping. So that’s where I’m coming from as I write this piece. (Hi, my name isSidney and I am a Tent Camper.)
Technically speaking, these are known as “Unimproved” campsites inLouisianaState Parklanguage. They’re known by that same name in several other systems; they’re also known as “Primitive” campsites. There may be other names for them; I can’t recall right now. To me though, they capture the essence of what I consider camping.
One should understand from the outset that it takes a little hike to get to these sites, so all your camping gear must be carried in. These sites have no electricity. These sites have no running water. These sites have a tent pad, a picnic table, and a fire-ring to build a campfire in.
These sites also have some of the best views you’ll find on Toledo Bend, and they offer some of the most “authentic” (for lack of a better term) camping that you’ll find at any developed campground in this area. Granted, they’re not for everyone. But if you want to do some good old fashioned camping, they’re the bee’s knees. J
There are five unimproved campsites, and each one has its own distinct personality; thus they are all different camping experiences. As far as which is best, I’m afraid I have to reserve judgment on that. That’s just too subjective. Instead, I’ll do my best to describe each site’s features as well as each site’s personality, if I am able. 🙂
Ready? Let’s go, then.
What you see here is my rough (if not downright comical) attempt at making a map of the unimproved sites. The curved black stripe at the bottom is the road into camping loop A. The two things attached to that stripe represent the parking areas for the unimproved sites. The trails to the sites are marked with the grey line, and the blue up top is the lake.
So, as you can see from my map (or at least I hope you can) is the general layout of the area. Now let’s talk about the sites themselves.
Unimproved Campsite #1: This is ourADA(handicapped accessible) unimproved campsite. It is the closest to the parking area that the unimproved sites share. Also, the site itself and the path that leads to it are entirely paved with finished concrete as an aid to mobility.
Being the closest to the parking area, Site #1 is one of the more social camping experiences available in the unimproved sites. Just a personal observation here: it seems to me that people are intrigued, for lack of a better word, by the tent sites. I only say that because I see people make a point to smile and wave at the tent campers in Site #1.
Moving on to Site #2, we have what might be my favorite among our sites, improved or otherwise.
To get to Site #2, you take the first left on the trail. All told, the hike from the parking area to the site is 260 feet. That’s not all that far, but it is far enough to give you a sense of removal from the parking area. Once you arrive at the site, it’s like you’ve stepped into your own little world. There is a beautiful view of the lake and again, it feels like you have the lake to yourself. I won’t bog you down with a verbose description; I’ll let you come see it for yourself. It really is worth the trip. 🙂
The one caveat to consider about Site #2 is that if we have bad weather moving in, Site #2 is poised to catch the brunt of our prevailing weather patterns square on the chin. Bad weather is worse here than in other, more protected areas of the park. That should only be a small consideration, but I’d rather be upfront about that than have someone’s trip ruined because I didn’t tell it.
Moving on down the trail to Site #3, we get to another really great site. This site is actually improving with age, it seems. There used to be a pretty good bit of underbrush obscuring one’s view of the lake from site 3, but that is going away now, turning this site into a really nice site. The hike from the parking area for this one is 270 feet. I’ll let the pictures do the talking on this one also.
And now we come to the sites on the bluff. I’ll tackle these together, both in the interest of trying to keep this page shorter and also because the sites are so similar.
Sites #4 and #5 are perched on a bluff over the lake. These sites offer some of the most incredible views to be had anywhere on Toledo Bend. As I’ve said before, standing on this bluff looking out on a clear day, it’s almost hard to believe that you’re standing inLouisiana. I’ve taken some pictures of the view. The camera doesn’t do it even the slightest bit of justice. Once again, I think you should come see it for yourself. Even if you don’t stay in the unimproved sites, if you come to the park, you should take the walk out here on the bluff. It really is worth the conquest. 🙂
Here’s wishing you and yours safe travels, a sense of adventure, and the will –as well as the way – to go there and back again. Hope to see you out there!