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October Is A Great Time To Enjoy The Fall Colors, Cooler Temperatures At Cooper Lake State Park

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Submitted by Steve Killian, Complex Superintendent for Cooper Lake State Park, [email protected]

Cooper, Texas — 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.

Campfire

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 a total of 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 safely enjoy the sport of archery through a scheduled class.  Also, during the month, learn about a wide variety of fungi, plants, and animals common 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 based on leaf pigmentation.  We all have heard about the green pigment – chlorophyll but may not be as aware of other key fall color pigments such as carotenoids (yellows and oranges) and anthocyanins (reds and purples).  In the fall as day length decreases and nights become longer and cooler, these climate signals cause the plant to shutdown 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 not present during 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. This is a simplified explanation of the complex plant biochemistry, but with a little 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 color 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 at the same time 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 state parks in the region have beautiful fall colors, such as Daingerfield State Park and Lake Bob Sandlin State Park.  With your paid admission at 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. Get out there and experience a natural Texas!

Doctors   Creek Unit

The forests at Cooper Lake State Park develop beautiful color with , Virginia creeper, (above) red sumac, poison ivy, and rough-leaf dogwood all expressing deep reds in their leaves.
  • Friday, October 7
    • Evening Kayak Float – 4-6 p.m. Meet at Lone Pine Boat Ramp parking lot. Reserve your spot today! Limited kayak loaners available. Contact Alicia O’Connor at alicia.o’[email protected] 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 own kayak if you have one.
  • Saturday, October 8
    • Predator or Prey – 1 p.m. Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion. To eat or be eaten, the reality of life in the wild!
  • Sunday, October 9
    • Nature Journaling – 10 a.m. Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion – Take a moment to collect your thoughts. Learn about journaling in nature.
  • Saturday, October 15
    • Kid’s Fishing – 9-11 a.m. Meet at the Bluebonnet Day Use Area. Bring your own fishing gear, no pole, no worries. We have a few fishing poles available to borrow. No experience needed!
  • Saturday, October 22
    • Roving with the Ranger – 2-3:30 p.m. Stop Ranger Alicia while she roves around the park and ask questions about the interpretive items she’s carrying.
  • Sunday, October 23
    • Master Naturalist – Topic to be determined. Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion at 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 29
    • Creatures of the Night – Evening Walk at 7 p.m. Meet at 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 Unit

Fall foliage
  • Saturday, October 8
    • Predator or Prey – 9 a.m. Meet at Heron Harbor Day Use Area. To eat or be eaten, the reality of life in the wild!
  • Saturday, October 15
    • Kid’s Fishing – 2-4 p.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Fishing Wall. Bring your own fishing gear, no pole, no worries. We have a few fishing poles available to borrow. No experience needed!
  • Sunday, October 16
    • Mindfulness Walk – Take a self-guided walk on Coyote Run Trail. Refresh and recharge in nature.
  • Friday, October 21
    • Stargazing – 8 p.m. 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
    • Archery 101 — 9-11 a.m. Meet at Buggy Whip Restroom. Registration is required, program limited to 15 participants. Reserve your spot by calling (903) 945-5256 or email Alicia O’Connor Alicia.O’[email protected] No experience needed. Ages 10 and up. All equipment provided.
  • Saturday, October 29
    • Bark in the Park – Meet at the Coyote Run Trail Head at 2 p.m. Bring your four-legged best friend for a short, leashed walk, down the Coyote Run Trail.
  • Sunday, October 30
    • Ranger Games – 10 a.m. Meet at Heron Harbor Day Use Area – Join us for a fun morning of play.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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