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October At Cooper Lake State Parks

Cooper, TX— For most Texans, when you say October, happy thoughts of cold fronts, fall colors, and outdoor activities come to mind generating a smile! What better place to shake off the oppressive summer than a Texas state park? Cooper Lake State Park is twice as nice, with two parks, South Sulphur and Doctors Creek, squeezed into one perched on the banks of a 20,000-acre lake. Make Cooper Lake State Park your happy place this fall for camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, boating, kayaking, and so much more.

During October, the park will host 17 recreational and educational programs at South Sulphur and Doctors Creek Units. This month’s highlighted programs are “Creatures of the Night” night hike, Stargazing, Kayaking 101 Adventure, and Archery 101. Hike through the woods after dark and see what the nocturnal environment reveals to you with the aid of a Park Ranger guiding your adventure.

Experience the darkest skies so close to Dallas, where you can see the Milky Way! Experience lake vista views as you hone your kayaking skills exploring the nearshore habitat. Learn how to enjoy the sport of archery through a scheduled class safely. Also, during the month, learn about various fungi, plants, and animals familiar to Northeast Texas through additional programs. All programs are free with a valid entrance permit.

October is a most special time of year in Northeast Texas, with leaf colors peaking late in the month with reds, yellows, and oranges all aglow. Leaf color is a biological process that is on leaf pigmentation. We all have heard about the green pigment chlorophyll. Still, We may not be as aware of other essential fall color pigments such as carotenoids, yellows, oranges, anthocyanins, reds, and purples. In the fall, as day length decreases and nights become longer and cooler, these climate signals cause the plant to shut down chlorophyll production, giving the carotenoid pigments, which are always present, the opportunity to shine through with yellows and oranges. The reds and purple pigments – anthocyanins develop in the fall. The anthocyanins, unlike the green chlorophyll and yellow and orange carotenoids, are absent most of the year. The anthocyanin pigments begin to be produced by the same forces that cause the decline of chlorophyll. Specific species of plants organize these pigments differently, resulting in the diverse fall colors found in our forests. It is a simplified explanation of the complex plant biochemistry, but with some weather luck, it will all come together for us this fall! The park is ready for you and your family to enjoy nature’s very own vibrant colors.

The forests at Cooper Lake State Park develop beautiful colors with red sumac, Virginia creeper, poison ivy, look but don’t touch! and rough-leaf dogwood, all expressing deep reds in their leaves. Elms will develop yellow leaves, as will multiple other forest species. Not all plant species change simultaneously, with some trees and shrubs remaining green a little longer, creating an even greater contrast of color. In addition, don’t forget about the blooming of fall flowers scattered within the park’s prairies!

Many other regional state parks, such as Daingerfield and Lake Bob Sandlin State Parks, have beautiful fall colors. With your paid admission to Cooper Lake State Park, you can visit other state parks on the same day for free! Plan a day with family or friends to experience all the wonders of fall at a Texas State Park!

Cooper Lake State Park is just one of 89 Texas State Parks open and ready to host your next outdoor adventure. So get out there and experience a natural Texas!

Doctors Creek

Saturday, October 1 — DC

Becoming a Junior Ranger – 11:00 am Meet at Headquarters. Check off activities to earn your Junior Ranger badge.

Friday, October 7 – DC

Evening Kayak Float – 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Meet at Lone Pine Boat Ramp parking lot. Reserve your spot today! Limited kayak loaners are available. Contact Alicia O’Connor at alicia.o’connor@tpwd.texas.gov or call the office at 903–395-3100. Bring your refillable water bottle, towel, water shoes, and sunscreen. We’ll take an evening paddle around the cove. Bring your Kayak if you have one.

Saturday, October 8 – DC

Predator or Prey – 1:00 pm Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion. To eat or be eaten, the reality of life in the wild!

Sunday, October 9 — DC

Nature Journaling – 10:00 am. Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion – Take a moment to collect your thoughts. Then, learn about journaling in nature.

Saturday, October 15 — DC

Kid’s fishing – 9:00 am – 11:00 am. Meet at the Bluebonnet Day Use Area. Bring your fishing gear, no pole, no worries. We have a few fishing poles available to borrow.

No experience is needed!

Saturday, October 22 — DC

Roving with the Ranger – 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Stop Ranger Alicia while she roves around the park and asks questions about the interpretive items she’s carrying.

Sunday, October 23 — DC

Master Naturalist – Topic to be determined. Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion at 10:00 am.

Saturday, October 29 — DC

Creatures of the Night – Evening Walk at 7:00 pm. Meet at Pelican Point Parking lot. We’ll take a short walk down Cedar Creek North Loop. Who works the night shift at the park? Bring a red-filtered flashlight, bring bug spray, and a water bottle.

South Sulphur  

Saturday, October 1 – SS

Becoming a Junior Ranger – 9:00 am. Meet at Headquarters. Check off activities to earn your Junior Ranger badge.

Sunday, October 2 — SS

Wildlife Detectives – 10:00 am. Meet at Coyote Run Trail Head. We’ll take a short walk on Coyote Run Trail. Explore how to determine the types of animals that may have been here from the signs they leave behind.

Saturday, October 8 — SS  

Predator or Prey – 9:00 am. Meet at Heron Harbor Day Use Area. To eat or be eaten, the reality of life in the wild!

Saturday, October 15 — SS

Kid’s fishing – 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Meet at the Heron Harbor Fishing Wall. Bring your fishing gear, no pole, no worries. We have a few fishing poles available to borrow. No experience is needed!

Sunday, October 16 — SS

Mindfulness Walk – Take a self-guided walk on Coyote Run Trail. Refresh and recharge in nature.

Friday, October 21 — SS

Stargazing – 8:00 pm Meet at Gulls Bluff Fishing Parking Lot. We’ll have the telescopes out for viewing a planet or two. How many constellations can you see and name? Bring a lawn chair and bug spray.

Saturday, October 22 – SS

Archery 101: 9:00 am – 11:00 am. Meet at Buggy Whip Restroom. Registration is required, and the program is limited to 15 participants. Reserve your spot by calling (903) 945-5256 or emailing Alicia O’Connor, Alicia.O’Connor@tpwd.texas.gov. No experience is needed. Ages 10 and up. All equipment provided.

Saturday, October 29 – SS

Bark in the Park – Meet at the Coyote Run Trail Head at 2:00 pm. Bring your four-legged best friend for a short, leashed walk down the Coyote Run Trail.

Sunday, October 30 — SS

Ranger Games – 10:00 am. Meet at Heron Harbor Day Use Area – Join us for a fun morning of play.