Camping at Cooper Lake South Sulfur Unit

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Last weekend, we took our first camping trip of the fall. We initially were going to go to Doctors Creek on the north side of Cooper lake but ended up switching to South Sulfur because there was more room and they had several programs on Saturday to see. Initially, there were going to be 5-7 people but in the end, it was just three of us and the dog. Mara and I drove up on Thursday night and set up camp. It was Halloween night so we had a little trouble escaping all the little candy monsters in the neighborhood which meant we didn’t get to camp until about 9:15.

We had camped in the Big Star section of the park last year and chose that again when we arrived. We pretty much had it to ourselves on Thursday night which I suppose is fairly common for the school year. We stayed in the same site, #13 which has a nice access path to the lake. The lake is extremely low right now, 13 feet or more, and it has started to look like a wasteland in many places. Both fishing piers are completely out of the water and the boat ramp in South Sulfur is closed.

We had camp set up by 11 and called it a night without a fire. Friday, we cooked breakfast and hung around the camp most of the morning. Around 12, I looked online for geocaches in the area and found one on the main trail in South Sulfur (N 33° 17.353 W 095° 38.707). So we set off for our first geocaching adventure. Once we figured out the GPS, it was pretty straightforward. It’s fun to search for the cache once you get to where you think it might be hidden. We found it after about 5-10 minutes and left our information in the log book. You are supposed to leave a family friendly item in the cache once you find it and after raiding my hunting backpack, we left a handwarmer in exchange for a little plastic toy. The log book mentioned a bonus cache which we went looking for but were unable to find.

After the hike, we headed back to camp to cook a late lunch of burgers. Our friend showed up around 4:30 and the rest of the evening was spent around the campfire. A cold front came through in the early evening with north winds pretty strong off the lake. It was a cold night in a mostly summer tent. In the future, if the weather calls for a cold front, we probably won’t stay at campsite #13 where the wind can blow straight off the lake.

Saturday morning, he and I went to the first program of the day given by the park interpreter. It was on birding. However, the campground had filled up with a very large cub scout troop from Richardson so it was as much about managing a large crowd of hyperactive boys as it was about birding. It was interesting and I learned about the Chuck-Will’s-Widow. There has been a mysterious animal making noises at home right around dusk and into the night. I’ve always wondered what it was. Turns out, it’s a Chuck-Will’s-Widow. So all was not lost at the birding seminar.

We made a trip to the Sulphur Springs WalMart for supplies after the seminar. After that adventure, we had lunch and then we returned for another program at 2:30 on the trees of the area. This time, even more cub scouts had shown up. I’d guess that at least 50 of them were there with chaperones. We all tramped along the Honey Creek nature trail learning about Honey Locust, White and Red oak families, red cedars, wild cheery, persimmon and plum trees among others.

We made campfire chili for dinner which involves pouring cornbread on top of chili in a dutch oven which allows the cornbread to cook nicely. We sat around the fire warding off the cold with hot chocolate.

Sunday morning, we packed up camp and headed back home. The South Sulphur unit is a good camping site for families and has a great park interpreter. It’s a short drive from Dallas and is worth checking out. However, with the lake so low, it’s hard to do any fishing if you are interested in that.