Just a few minutes’ drive from Dallas, Cedar Hill State Park opened to the public in 1991 on the shores of Joe Pool Lake. In the years since, the park has developed into a 1,826-acre pastoral playground teeming with activities for the outdoor enthusiast.
Exploration opportunities abound, with 4.5 miles of hiking trails and another 10.3 miles of rougher terrain for mountain bikers—which can help to work off that picnic you consumed. With more than 350 “improved” campsites, campers can get a feel for nature—albeit, with a few amenities like electricity, water, and access to restrooms—for $20 a night. There are also a handful of primitive campsites that are essentially just patches of grass with an outhouse for those looking for something more rustic.
The best part of the park is its proximity to Joe Pool Lake, which covers some 7,500 acres and has a swimming area, a pair of boat ramps, fishing piers, and an enclosed fishing barge. Near the lake, the Joe Pool Marina sells a few concessions and basic fishing and camping supplies, as well as rents jet skis. Patrons looking for an educational experience can stop in on the Penn Farm, where you’ll peek into agrarian life as it was on a 19th-century farm.