Purtis Creek State Park offers a quick getaway

PURTIS CREEK STATE PARK - Nature enthusiasts can enjoy even more of the wooded beauty Northeast Texas offers by taking a short drive east from Cedar Creek Lake. The entrance to Purtis Creek State Park lies about 12 miles from Gun Barrel City on the east side of Eustace, making it a quick getaway for anyone who wants to experience nature without the trappings of development. The park occupies an area where the Wichita and Caddo Indians once roamed so it offers an educational experience as well. The park, which is in Henderson and Van Zandt Counties, is available for both day visits and overnight camping. With a 355-acre lake, fishing piers, creeks, canoe and paddle rentals, hiking trails, picnic tables and abundant wildlife, the park appeals to a wide variety of interests. Park Superintendent Mendy Davis said the preserve is a popular destination during the fall and winter provided the weather is pleasant, which it often is in Northeast Texas. And the recession has made the park even more attractive to Texas residents because people are reluctant to spend money traveling long distances, she said. "We stay booked up if the weather is nice," Davis said. "It's a good time to visit the park." There are campsites with electricity and water for recreational vehicles and travel trailers, and other areas for tent camping. Hike-in camping is also allowed for backpackers. Even though the drought this year caused the lake level to drop between five and six feet, small boats can still be launched and the canoes can still navigate the lake and other waterways, Davis said. "The fishing is still good," Davis said. "The park is still beautiful." Fish in the lake include Largemouth Bass, Catfish, Carpie and Sunfish. This fall the park is offering several educational workshops: "Birding Basics," Saturday, Nov. 26, 3 to 4 p.m. The methods of finding and identifying birds will be taught during a hike. Participants should wear comfortable shoes and bring binoculars if they have them, otherwise the park has some to loan. Meet at the overflow camping parking lot. "Leave No Trace," Saturday, Dec. 3, 3 to 5 p.m. Some techniques of nature photography will be taught during a hike. There will also be a hunt for items of interest in nature and a follow-up discussion. Participants should wear comfortable shoes and bring their digital cameras. Meet at the overflow camping parking lot. "Basics of Geocaching," Saturday, Dec. 17, 3 to 4 p.m. The art of geocaching, which is a hunt using a GPS unit for buried items that have been hidden by people, will be taught. Meet at the Amphitheater. "Stargazing," Saturday, Dec. 17, 8? to 9? p.m. The techniques of making a star wheel and how to use it will be taught. Participants will also learn about the solar system and view the night sky through a telescope. Meet at the overflow camping parking lot. The Friends of Purtis Creek will be holding a meeting Saturday, Dec. 3, 4? p.m., where Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Richard Ott will talk about the lake's Grass Carp population and ongoing efforts to introduce native vegetation into the lake. There will also be a discussion about an upcoming fishing tournament. Meet at the Purtis Creek State Park maintenance barn. The address of Purtis Creek State Park is 14225 FM 316. Entrance fees at the park are $3 per person. For information about camping or other activities call 903-425-2332. Visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/purtis_creek/

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Water Level on 11/27: 318.03 (-3.97)

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Fishing Report from TPWD (Nov. 23)

EXCELLENT. Water normal stain; 54-58 degrees; 4.98 feet low. Crappie are fair using minnows or jigs on select docks that have 6-8 feet of water, and brush piles in 5-20 feet of water and bridge pilings. Largemouth bass are good on brush piles 5-10 feet of water with Carolina rigs, or fishing bridge pilings with a shaky head. White bass and hybrid bass are under birds in 30-40 feet of water deadsticking. Report by Kyle Miers, Lake Country Outfitters.

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