Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lake Livingston State Park

Lake Livingston State Park is located on the eastern shore of Lake Livingston, just southwest of the city of Livingston, Texas. The park consists of 635.5 acres dominated by loblolly pine and water oak, while Lake Livingston itself covers over 84,000 acres.

The park is really in a beautiful setting. In addition to a large fishing pier and at least 2 boat ramps, the park also has a park store, an amphitheater, riding stables, and a swimming pool.

Fishing pier; photo taken from observation tower next to park store
However, we will probably not return to this park.

First, some of the park, including 3 camping areas and portions of the trail system, are closed. I believe this is a result, in part, of Hurricane Ike, which was about 4 years ago. There are still numerous trees that were knocked down by the storm, and they are still working on removing them. In addition, I was told that the drought from last year killed a large number of trees, and they are trying to remove them at this time. Piney Shores, Red Oak, and Pin Oak Loop campgrounds were all closed during our stay. These 3 campgrounds account for about 100 campsites.

Downed trees along main park road
One of my main interests is hiking, so I was disappointed I was unable to hike all the trails of this park. Southern portions of the Livingston Trail are closed. On the day we arrived, the trailhead parking lot for the Pineywoods Nature Trail was taped off. However, a few days later, it was open.

The design of the campgrounds leaves much to be desired. It's obvious to me that whoever designed the campsites in this park knew little about RVs. On most RVs --though certainly not all -- utilities are usually located in the same general area. That is, water, sewer, and electric are located in general proximity to one another.

Location of utilities on my trailer: city water on left, sewer at bottom center, and electric on right.
At our campsite, the sewer connection was at the very end of the site, behind the far end of our trailer. The water, however, was in front of the trailer. The electrical was somewhere in between. Luckily, I've learned to have extra equipment on hand for such situations.

Utility connections: water at far left (post next to tree), electric pole in center, and sewer at far right.
Another design flaw is that the campsite driveways are almost at 90 degree angles to the roadway. This makes backing in with large rigs very challenging. Most parks have a gentler angle, perhaps a 135 or so degree angle, but Lake Livingston probably has an angle of about 100 to 110 degrees. And since the campsites come off a narrow one lane road, while an RV is attempting to back in, traffic can back up, as we witnessed on several occasions. I'm pretty good at backing a trailer, but it took me 2 or 3 tries before I was able to fit the trailer comfortably in the site.

And adding to this parking problem is a rather deep ditch running along both sides of the road. If you should miss your driveway, there is a bit of a drop off. There is little room for error, especially with all of the trees that line the site. And the campsites are so short in length that there is not enough room in some sites to park the tow vehicle. We saw several sticking out into the road.

Example of the ditch that runs along park road, and example of illegal parking that is tolerated at Lake Livingston SP
And my final gripe is that we saw no camp hosts at all. Most state parks -- in fact, all that we have visited in the past several years -- have hosts who live in the campgrounds. Hosts perform a number of duties, and their absence in this park was noticeable to us.

The park was pretty full over the weekend, and we enjoyed sitting out and watching kids be kids, riding their bicycles on the park roads and playing together. As the weekend drew to a close, most visitors drifted back to their regular lives, and the park emptied out. This was the time we enjoyed the most, for we then were able to really enjoy the natural qualities of the park.

Donna enjoying our camp; fire helps keep mosquitoes away

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