Texas State Parks Will Celebrate 100-Year Anniversary In 2023 With Special Events

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Start 2023 At Cooper Lake State Park With A Guided First Day Hike

Hiking in the park

Cooper, Texas — Cooper Lake State Park, along with our other 88 Texas State Parks, will be celebrating 100 years of Texas State Parks throughout 2023. From Franklin Mountains State Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park to Daingerfield State Park and Atlanta State Park, 2023 will be a very special, once in a lifetime 100-year experience.

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All of our parks throughout 2023 will host at least one centennial branded event. Cooper Lake State Park will host three such celebrations. Doctors Creek’s celebration will be the “Festival of the Fish.” On Friday, March 31, the “Festival of the Fish” will be for our local schools followed by the “Festival of the Fish” on Saturday, April 1, for the general public. More information will follow, but let’s just say it’s all about the fish! Later in the year on Saturday, October 7, the South Sulphur Unit will host “Legions, Lore and Legacy,” a Halloween themed event.

One of the coolest events of the 100-year celebration will be Texas State Parks’ attempt, with your help, to break the world record for the most S’mores ever created at one moment in time. State parks all around Texas will gather S’mores fans for this camping culinary creation on May 13, 2023. More information will follow, but put this one on the family events calendar!

Cooper Lake State Park is an amazing place for experiencing the winter season. January in Northeast Texas is a special time of year. The leafless post oaks are dormant, but that doesn’t mean you have to be! With many clear cold nights and sunny cool days, you can still experience many outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, picnicking, and stargazing. January is the best month of the year for stargazing. Look for cold cloud-free nights for the very best dark sky viewing. Camping during January is enjoyed by many and is a unique experience. After a day on the trails, sharing a hearty meal around a crackling warm campfire is magical. Even in January, large blue catfish and crappie can be caught. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy one of our day-use areas on a warmer winter’s afternoon with the family as the kids play at one of our three playgrounds.

Dark Skies

Highlighted events for the month are our “First Day Hike” and “Kids’ Trout Fishing Day”. Get 2023 started off healthier, happier, and wiser with a hiking adventure through the woods. Cooper Lake State Park is hosting two “First Day Hike” events this year on January 1 with one at South Sulphur at 10am and another at Doctors Creek at 2 p.m. Partake in one or both! If these times aren’t right for you, please take a hike on your own throughout New Years Day. In addition, the park is offering an additional 8 programs and events including our “Kids’ Trout Fishing Day” at South Sulphur on January 21, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fishing gear and bait will be provided for those needing it. No fishing licenses are required with your park entrance permit. Kids 12 and under are always free at Texas State Parks. Note: Adults can fish too as long as they bring a kid!

All programs are free with entrance permit. For more information on this or other events and programs at Cooper Lake State Park, please visit and like our Facebook pages (Cooper Lake State Park – South Sulphur 903-945-5256 and Cooper Lake State Park – Doctors Creek (903) 395-3100).

— By Steve Killian, Cooper Lake State Park Complex Superintendent


Doctors Creek Unit

  • Sunday, January 1
    • Guided First Day Hike! – 2 p.m. at Doctors Creek Cedar Creek North Loop – Join us on a First Day guided hike to celebrate the New Year in nature
    • First Day Self-Guided Hike and or Bicycle Ride! – 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Doctors Creek Cedar Creek Loops – Want to hike or ride on your own schedule? Try out our trails for your first day hike or ride! **Stop by Headquarters after your hike/ride to pick up your First Day Hike memento.
  • Saturday, January 14
    • Skins and Skulls – 10 a.m. Meet at Doctors Creek Headquarters – Get an inside look at a few of the local animals.
  • Saturday, January 21
    • Fire Building 101 – 10 a.m. Meet at Blue Bonnet Day Use Area – Learn tips and tricks on how to build a perfect fire.
  • Saturday, January 28
    • Walk and a Talk with a Registered Master Naturalist – 10 a.m. Doctors Creek Cedar Creek trail head. Enjoy a short walk and talk with a Registered Master Naturalist – Topic: Citizen Scientist.

South Sulphur Unit

Rainbow trout
  • Sunday, January 1
    • Guided First Day Hike! – 10 a.m. at South Sulphur Buggy Whip Equestrian trail– Join us on a First Day guided hike to celebrate the New Year in nature!
    • First Day Self-Guided Hike, Horseback Ride, and or a Bicycle Ride! 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at South Sulphur Trails – Want to hike or ride on your own schedule? Try out our trails for your first day hike or ride! **Stop by Headquarters after your hike/ride to pick up your First Day Hike memento.
  • Saturday, January 14
    • Skins and Skulls – 2 p.m. Meet at Headquarters – Get an inside look at a few of the local animals.
  • Sunday, January 15
    • Wildlife Detectives – 10 a.m. 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.
  • Friday, January 20
    • Stargazing – 6 p.m. meet at Gulls Bluff Boat Launch Parking Lot. Join us as we explore the night sky.
  • Saturday, January 21
    • Annual Kid’s Trout Fishing Day – 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Park at Headquarters and walk to the Event Pond. Experience the joy of catching trout. No rod and reel, no worries we have a few loaners available. Remember your trout bait.
  • Saturday, January 28
    • Archery 101: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Meet at Buggy Whip Restroom. Registration is required, program limited to 12 participants. Reserve your spot by calling (903) 945-5256 or email Alicia O’Connor at Alicia.O’[email protected]. No experience needed. Ages 10 and up. All equipment provided.
Trout fishing family
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Author: Faith Huffman

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