March 3, 2009

Cedar Hill State Park - A Review

As the primary blogger on this site, I (Kristi) really feel that it is my purpose and obligation to make a "review" of each state park facility that we visit. My intentions are two-fold: (1) to document our likes and dislikes of each site we visit, ultimately developing a list of our favorite State Parks based on our experience, and (2) Share our findings with others that may find it useful in planning their own camping adventures. So, without further ado, here are my "take aways" of Cedar Hill State Park:

Restrooms: generally speaking the restrooms were well maintained. As it was cold weather outside, the restrooms were heated. I did notice some trash and debris on the floors. However, I discovered that there was a large youth group in the same part of the park as us. I suspect some of this debris was simply due to the youngsters disregard for cleaning up after themselves. I also noted that the restroom facilities had solar panels on the roofs. It is certainly very eco-friendly and green to use solar power.

Activities: I really believe that Cedar Hill State Park caters to the "day use" crowd just as much as the "over-nighters". The park has a large marina on Joe Pool lake with a bait shop for the fishers. Their is a large fishing pier and several smaller fishing piers . Incredible hiking and mountain bike trails that some have labeled as ranking among the best in Texas state parks (so says the Texas Park and Wildlife website). A good chunk of the property for this state park was granted by the Penn family. Still today, the Penn Farm Agricultural History Center is on site and available for daily tours. There are over 200 day use, and both a large and small pavillion for group events.

Strengths: As previously mentioned, all of the activities available for state park patrons are a MAJOR strength. The park is also very large relative to other state parks, so there is plenty of camp sites and facilities to accommodate many people. The location is also very convenient to the DFW metroplex.

Weaknesses: In several ways, the items that are strengths are also weaknesses. The State park is almost too big. You have to get in your car and drive to another area of the park to participate in activities. Furthermore, the campsite is almost too close to the city. it is literally right off of two major highways, and depending on your location, you might be able to hear and see the highway. If you are trying to "get away" this might not be a good thing. Many of the campsite were on the smaller side and very close to neighboring camp sites with little barrier. This state park has over 350 campsites, so I am sure this is not the case everywhere. But, some of the campsites do seem to be packed in there (although this might be good if your party needs multiple sites). Fees are more expensive then other state parks.

Overall Impression: We definitely want to return. The hiking trails we have seen were awesome, and we would like to check more of them out. It is also very convenient to home -- less time in the car means more time camping. If I do go back, I will be very discriminating on picking a camp site, as I do not want to be too close to the highway, nor do I want a site with little barriers from my neighbors. I suspect this park will be very busy during more camping friendly seasons, so that might be another consideration.