Lake Livingston State Park

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About Lake Livingston State Park

Topaz may be the official gem of the state of Texas, but everyone who has visited this park knows what the real gem of Texas is… opal. Definitely opal. You probably thought we were going to say that Lake Livingston State Park was the gem, didn’t you? C’mon people, we aren’t that cheesy. This 635-acre park located just 75 miles north of Houston boasts gently rolling sandy hills and subtropical climates that allow beautiful blooms of redbud, parsley hawthorn, prairie primrose, purple passion vine, scarlet sage, verbena and goldenrod. Also home to one of the largest lakes in the state, Lake Livingston provides endless opportunity for activities such as swimming, boating, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and geocaching. We hope you’ll take the time to stop by and visit this “gem” of a park! Okay you were right, we said it after all :)

Campgrounds in Lake Livingston

Piney Shores Campground

1. Piney Shores Campground

Aptly named are these campgrounds sheltered in amongst the forested pines, right on the eastern shores of Lake Livingston. Aside from their...

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Red Oak Campground

2. Red Oak Campground

Sandwiched between the beachside Piney Shores and the outer Yaupon Loop campgrounds, sites 38 - 49 are nice and quiet due to their location...

Pin Oak Loop Campground

3. Pin Oak Loop Campground

Right along the lake on the park’s northern boundary, sites 98 - 147 are scenically located despite the fact that they are slightly more crowded....

Hercules Club Loop Campground

4. Hercules Club Loop Campground

The farthest south of Lake Livingston’s campgrounds, these sites are nestled on one of the corner inlets of the lake. Sites 72 - 97 are slightly...

Yaupon Loop Campground

5. Yaupon Loop Campground

The farthest removed from the lake of among the three campground conglomeration including Piney Shores and Red Oak loops, Yaupon Loop is located...

Briar Loop Campground

6. Briar Loop Campground

These sites are so special that they’re designated by letters A - P as opposed to the traditional number system. Apart from the letters, these...

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History of Lake Livingston State Park

The Trinity River and the surrounding valley have been home to a variety of cultures for centuries. Humans have long known about the valley’s abundant natural resources.

The first humans here were hunter-gatherers, or Paleo-Indians. Signs of these people date back 12,000 years.

Pottery found at sites dated to about 2,200 years ago suggests that these early people were cultivating beans, corn and squash. Instead of constantly roaming, they had begun settling down.

When the Spanish and French began exploring East Texas in the early 16th century, native Atakapan-speaking peoples lived here. These included the Orcoquisacs, Bidais and Deadose.

As American settlers pushed west, diseases killed many of the local native people.

To repopulate the area, the Spanish encouraged Native American groups from the southeastern United States to move here by offering them land. The Spanish thought this would deter French and American settlers. Among these immigrants were the Alabama and Coushatta tribes, who live on tribal lands in the area today.

After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, it began issuing land grants. Americans could get fertile land to farm, with one condition: they had to swear allegiance to Mexico. Many did so.

In 1845, the Texas became part of the United States. The state established Polk County in 1846. Moses L. Choate, who had acquired land here in 1835, donated 100 acres for the county seat. In honor of that donation, the post office was named “Livingston” after Choate’s hometown in Tennessee.

The Trinity River valley offered good land for cotton farming. What’s more, the river provided convenient means to transport bales of cotton to the port cities of Houston and Galveston.

River landings turned into settlements, such as Liberty, Wallisville and Swartwout, the site of the current Lake Livingston dam.

After the Civil War, an economic shift occurred. Cotton farming declined due to a labor shortage. Meanwhile, railroads expanded into the area.

Prior to this, loggers had to wait for high water on the river to float logs to coastal mills. But reliable freight transportation set the stage for a logging boom. Timber became the primary product of the area, and continues to be so, today.

TPWD opened Lake Livingston State Park in 1977. The park is located on 635 acres along the southeastern edge of Lake Livingston in Polk County.

Lake Livingston is one of the largest reservoirs in the state, with 83,000 surface acres. The lake is an impoundment of the Trinity River, and provides water for the city of Houston and other East Texas cities. It is ideal for boating and fishing because of its size and constant level.