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One of the best-kept secrets in the Texas Piney Woods region is Houston County Lake. The reservoir was created in 1966 to supply water to the towns of Crockett, Grapeland, and Latexo. Since the lake opened, local residents have a water supply and a recreation lake that has become known for excellent largemouth bass fishing. In addition, a swimming area, campground, full-service resort, marina and two public boat launch areas offer plenty of water access to visitors. With over 1,300 acres of water surface, there is plenty of room for water skiing, tubing, pontooning, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, sailing and paddle-boating. The marina rents some boats and offers supplies for a full day on the lake. Surrounded by the tall evergreens the Piney Woods is noted for, Houston County Lake offers a fine place to escape the summer heat.
Texas reservoirs have a well-deserved reputation for holding lunkers, and Houston County Lake is no exception. Texas Parks and Wildlife routinely plants Florida largemouth fingerlings in the lake, where they enjoy plenty of bottom structure and grow to huge size. To keep the lunkers numerous, a slot-limit is imposed: only bass under 14 inches and over 21 inches may be kept. As only one largemouth over 21 inches may be retained, catch and release is the norm here, with stories of the one that got away echoing between the fishing forums. Largemouth bass aren't the only fish worth catching at Houston County Lake, however. Crappie, sunfish, and spotted bass are also numerous. The upper reaches and many of the coves are quite shallow, offering good weed cover, plenty of fallen timber, and excellent spawning ground for all types of fish. Fishing by kayak is common, as there is little accessible shoreline for shore fishing. The resort area holds several fishing docks to facilitate fishing from shore.
Much of the shoreline along the deeper areas of Houston County Lake is in private hands. The lake has become a popular lakefront community, with residents owning their own docks and boat houses. A church camp holds a part of the northern shoreline where they entertain youth campers for several weeks a year. Other undeveloped parts of the lakefront are available for lease hunting from local owners, with duck hunting and deer hunting most prevalent. Some of the private owners regularly rent out their cottages by the week or month to vacationers. The resort campground holds over 100 campsites, RV pads, cabins, kitchenette rooms and dorm-style rentals. The resort is a popular destination among 'winter Texans' who often rent a space for the winter months. With a convenience store, marina and bait and tackle shop, the resort, although privately operated, becomes the social and recreational hub of Houston County Lake. Added to the entertainment are volleyball courts, horseshoe, and miniature golf.
Although there are no developed hiking trails at Houston County Lake, nearby Davy Crockett National Forest offers plenty of hiking and wildlife watching opportunities. The area between Palestine, Grapeland, and Crockett offers a lot of local attractions and activities. Antique shops, art galleries and craftsmen's studios provide shopping experiences that meet nearly everyone's interests. The area is a musician's paradise, with music venues and events occurring nearly year round. Bluegrass is big in this area of East Texas. The Crockett Civic Center hosts such events as the World Championship Fiddlers Festival, and local groups specialize in dulcimer music and folk singing. The Texas Opry performs here often, in conjunction with festivals and special events. The Piney Woods Fine Arts Association produces a full roster of theater, music, dance and education to the delight of the entire family.,
Texas wouldn't be Texas without the traditional rodeos. The Porth Ag Arena in Crockett is home to junior high and high school rodeos, ranch rodeos, Lions Club Annual PRCA Rodeo, and a number of regional and state events. Grapeland celebrates its favorite crop with the Peanut Festival each October. For nearly 70 years, the annual festival has celebrated the town's agricultural roots with entertainment, food and crafts. An antique tractor show and parade in Crockett coincides with the Regional Steak Cook-Off. Visitors with children will want to spend an afternoon at the Depot Museum Complex. In addition to a preserved collection of vintage Texas buildings, a Children's Discovery Center offers over 200 hands-on activities for children aged five to ten years old.
The towns of Crockett, Grapeland and Palestine offer all types of services for visitors to Houston County Lake. Here temporary residents can find movie theaters, fast-and slow-food restaurants including the traditional barbecue, farm markets, country-style nightlife, guest ranches and lots of Texas history. Opportunities for all types of lodgings can be found, with bed-and breakfasts, guest cabins and small motels, along with regular hotels, campgrounds and RV parks. Real estate is available, including some with lake frontage on Houston County Lake. Much is existing housing, but there are some lots still available for building. So, if you're looking for a great outdoor vacation in the Piney Woods, or perhaps the bass fishing trip of a lifetime, Houston County Lake is the place for you. Come and enjoy the Texas hospitality at Houston County Lake.
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