Winding along the southern shore of Lake Texoma, the Cross Timbers Trail lies in the thick of the Cross Timbers Wilderness. Just a short hour and a half drive from Dallas, this trail makes for an easy weekend getaway from the city. With 14 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails, this trail is perfectly suited for conditioning preparation for more extended outdoor trips. Aside from backpacking and camping along the trail, Lake Texoma has much to offer the weekend warrior as well.
What Makes it Great
The Cross Timbers Trail is a great place to start if you’re looking for seclusion in the forest. Driving in from Dallas, the rolling plains and farmlands quickly transform into a green oasis of Black Jack and Post Oaks. As you near the trailhead, the beautiful Lake Texoma comes into view and you know you’ve made it to your destination.
After parking at the Juniper Point Trailhead, the trail travels up the cliffs of the lake and winds along the shoreline. Small climbs up and down some small bends of the lake categorize the first 3 miles of the hike, giving you plenty of time to warm your legs up. If you’re not looking to head too far into the wilderness and test your primitive camping skills, Juniper Point offers several attractive campsites with water and electricity. This spot serves as a convenient base camp for enjoying the trail and everything the lake has to offer.
Although the elevation change never exceeds 150 feet, there are several steep pitches and long climbs that span the entire 150 feet distance. Following the shoreline of the lake for the majority of the hike, the trail is forced to dip up and down the cliffs that are famously characteristic of Lake Texoma. The trail has been well maintained since its inception in the 70’s, and is well marked the entirety of its length. White reflectors along the trail indicate which side the lake is on, keeping the hiker oriented when the view of the water is obscured.
Three primitive campsites are found along the length of the trail and include the Lost Loop Camp, Five Mile Camp, and the breathtaking Eagles Roost Camp which has the best views of the lake. These sites are laid out on the low side of the trail and give easy access to the shoreline so that you can refresh your water supply if needed. If these sites happen to be taken, there are plenty of other places a camper can pitch a tent along the trail.
Who is Going to Love It
Because the trail is categorized as easy to moderate, hikers of all skill levels will enjoy a weekend in the Cross Timbers. Primitive camping will satisfy the adventure seekers, while paid sites will encourage the beginning car camper to venture out onto the trail as well. Because it sits along the shores of Lake Texoma, the trail really has something to offer everyone.
Directions, Parking, and Fees
The Juniper Point Trailhead can be reached by taking 377 north to the Texas/Oklahoma border. From there you go through the West entrance of the recreation area where you will reach the trailhead. Parking is free at this entrance, and $5.00 at the Cedar Bayou Marina should you want to begin a few miles south. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
*Aaron Stavinoha is the co-founder of MissionSummit.net, an organization that raises money for a cancer patient fund through outdoor activities and mountain climbs.