Mike V.
Parks, LA
Joined June 2016
Camping, canoeing & kayaking, at S. Toledo Bend State Park, west Louisiana

Nice state park on western boundary of Louisiana along Toledo Bend Reservoir. Camping here is usually quite nice from late Oct through late April. Only (5) undeveloped campsites are available for tents/hammocks only. They have a great view looking out over the huge lake. Each has a picnic table and a fire ring w/ steel grill rack. On weekends you must reserve campsites/cabins for a minimum of two nights when doing online reservations. There is a large number of improved campsites that have water and electrical hook-ups, and quite a few cabins that can be rented, some of which also have a nice view of the lake. Bathhouse was fairly clean whenever I have been there, and has showers, sinks, and flush toilets. I would have given this park's camping area a 5-star rating, but there was no hot water left to take a nice warm shower during my last visit. Toledo Bend Reservoir is the #1 bass fishing lake in America 2 years in a row. Clean water and a few sandy beaches along the two small nearby islands are great for hanging out on when canoeing/kayaking/ boating. Bald Eagles are often seen during late Fall, Winter months, and early Spring. Please note that the raccoons are professional thieves at this state park, so you need to put your food away at night.

Camping, hiking, canoeing, birding at Sam Hou Jones State Park -- sw LA

Typical state park campground area to suite campers/rv's & tents. Must reserve sites for 2-day minimums or more on weekends. Many of the campsites are shaded. They have bath houses w/ showers and flush toilets. Since it is close to Lake Charles, LA and other towns, this park does get used by both locals and others. SHJSP is surrounded by water on 2 or 3 sides, and has low water areas within the park. Thus, it is a popular place to go for fishing, canoeing, kayaking. The birding is very good here most times of the year, and there is deer that live on state park property here. Mosquitos can be really rough here certain times of the year. Hiking trails are ok here, but nothing awesome, except a couple boardwalks & viewing platforms are nice.

Camping, hiking, sightseeing, & birding at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park in Missouri

Gave this campground a 5-star rating, but it probably should only be a 4 star. It only has about 12 basic tent campsites, no water or electrical at the sites. The campsites were nicely spaced, most have a lot of shade, each has a picnic table and a place to make a fire. No trailers allowed at camp sites, just tents. There is one or two special-use camping areas that can be used for groups such as boy scouts, etc. It appears you can pay in advance and reserve some campsites, so that you be sure to get one for your trip. I went in late May on the Mon-Tue of-after Memorial Day weekend and was able to find an available campsite even though I did not have a reservation. Camping fees/rates were posted on a board near the restroom building by the honor system camping fee pay station.
The restroom bldg only has pit toilets, not flush toilets. But they were cleaned very well by the workers on the 2nd day I was there. Also worth noting is that there is water faucet an a drinking fountain next to the restroom bldg, so you can get fresh water if needed. OK, so this sounds normal to average, so why give this campground a good rating? Because of location to the great stuff near-by on this mountain.
Missouri's High Point is here on this mountain. There is a very nice overlook w/ viewing platform w/ handrails very close to the campground. Some awesome hiking trails are worth checking out, although they are a bit rugged in places where you could twist an ankle. One of the trails will take you to a nice waterfall, which is Missouri's highest falls. Note that I would not call it MO's largest waterfall. Further to all of this great stuff is that the birds were plentiful and quite active when I was there. Easy to watch and listen to them at the camping area, and at the overlook viewing platform. Birds were pretty much everywhere. There is also a look-out tower up on the mountain, which is probably used as a fire watch tower. A few pictures attached.

First to Review
camping and hiking at JFK Park Campground at Greers Ferry Lake, Heber Springs, Arkansas

Very nice little campground just off Arkansas Hwy 25 by Greers Ferry Lake, Heber Springs, Arkansas. Actually, many of the campsites are along the beginning of the Little Red River. A lot of people were fishing here, and there is a fish hatchery here also, so better know the fishing regulations if fishing.
Campsites are fine, at least partly shaded for many sites, not huge, but at a great location. Nice short hiking trail along Collins Creek. Thumbs up for this place. Would be happy to hang out here again some day.

Shades State Park, west-central Indiana

A nice Indiana State Park that has about a hundred basic camping sites (non-electric), along with restrooms and bath house. Note that camping season is April through October here at Shades. No overnight camping Nov-Mar.
The big draw at Shades State Park is hiking the great trails, canoeing/kayaking on Sugar Creek, and seeing a covered bridge or two. Pine Hills Nature Preserve (on east end of park) is also open to park visitors for hiking and wildlife viewing. A few pics attached.

Petit Jean State Park - Arkansas

Great place for hiking and taking in nice variety of views at Arkansas's first state park. Cabins can be rented, RV & tent camping sites available. Modern bath houses with showers and toilets were clean. Cedar Creek flows through this park and Cedar Falls is impressive. We were there in late March and the creek was flowing good after recent rains. But it can be only a trickle during dry periods. Enjoyed the trail along the creek. Another nice view was from a point looking down over the Arkansas River and valley below.

Bladon Springs State Park, sw Alabama

Grass was cut nice around the pavilions and at the somewhat small camping area when I checked out this Alabama state park in sw AL a few years ago. I was disappointed that there was not much to do at Bladon Springs SP. Unfortunately, this state park appears to be 1 of 5 AL state parks that was closed in Oct 2015 or is/was being considered for closing due to state funding issues. Thus, please call or check online to see if this park is open or not before driving to it. There was not any hiking trails at Bladon Springs State Park when I was there.

Waveland Lake and Park, near Waveland, Indiana

Nice clean park in west-central Indiana that has a lake and a large number of camping sites along with restrooms and showers. The primitive tent camping sites don't require reservations, and each have a picnic table. There are modern campsites that have water and electrical hook-ups, and there are some small cabins that can be rented. The bath house was clean, and the grounds crew does a great job keeping the grass cut. Camp sites seem more spread out here compared to most state parks. Location is fairly close to Sugar Creek and other parks such as Turkey Run and Shades State Park. The lake is popular for fishing.

Prophetstown State Park, near Lafayette, IN

We go to Prophetstown State Park sometimes because it is close to Lafayette, IN, and it is a place where you can go hiking. You can ride bikes within the park if you want to. Fairly large modern campground area w/ water and electrical hook-ups, bath house and restrooms. Everything was quite clean here, and very little trash seen on the ground. This is one of Indiana's newest state park and has a lot of acres of prairie, so much of the landscape is not very impressive. Most hiking trails are easy to hike on, but a bit boring compared to some other more scenic parks. Not much shade at many of the campsites. Can do some birding here if interested.

Turkey Run State Park, west-central Indiana

Much enjoyed hiking some of the trails at Turkey Run State Park near Marshall, Indiana. This is Indiana's 2nd oldest state park, now 100 years old (1916-2016). Visitors can camp in RV's or in tents in campground area that has water/electrical hook-ups, modern bathrooms w/ showers. There is also cabins to rent, or you can stay at Turkey Run Inn. Canoeing down Sugar Creek was great, and it passes through the state park at a fairly scenic section. Some hiking trails are easy to walk along, others trails are more rugged and difficult. Cross over Sugar Creek on a suspension bridge to get to more hiking trails in a more remote section of woods. We ate a very nice lunch in the restaurant in the Inn, and even played pinball in the gameroom. Great state park. Would be happy to go again some day.

Hiking, camping, and sight seeing at Chewacla State Park, near Auburn, Alabama

Nice hiking trails here. Mountain biking is also allowed on many of the trails. Trails are along the lake, along the creek, and in the woods. Trail map is well done and helpful. Easy to get to this state park that is not far from interstate hwy I-85 near Auburn, AL. Some pictures attached taken while hiking and sight seeing. Both RV camping and primitive tent camping can be done here. Cabins/cottages can also be rented.

Pyramid State Park, IL, initial visit

Much enjoyed driving around exploring this large state park in IL. Seems to be awesome for fishing as there are many lakes. Great access to the lakes for canoe & kayak. Did a nice long walk along one trail late May and there was a lot of bird activity. Can't explore it all on one visit. Saw several people camping, and some were horse back riding on a trail. Hope to go back some day and spend more time there.

Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas

Great state park. Checked out Arkansas high point of course. Hike some trails, enjoyed the views and rock formations. Tent camping area was very clean, with nice flat tent pad surface to set up tent on. Also ate a very nice meal on Easter Sunday at the lodge. Saw several deer while we were there. Definitely recommend this state park to others. Hope to go there again some day.

Mount Nebo State Park, Arkansas

Tent camped on top of Mt Nebo, and survived a bad storm one night amazingly well. Went to sunrise church service on Easter Sunday morning at the church there on top. Saw a lot of deer while there. Hiked a fair amount of the hiking trails. Great views looking out over the valley below. Road up the mountain has some switch-backs with sharp curves. Long pull behind trailers may not make the turns.

Lake Bistineau State Park, nw Louisiana

State park by a lake. Pretty nice all in all. Fairly close to Shreveport, LA. Park was clean, and grass kept cut. Has a nice boat ramp and parking area by the lake. Raccoons are pro's at this park, so you may want to safely store your food and trash if staying in the campground area. They didn't get any of my stuff, but did get into another campers bag of trash.

Chicot State Park, N of Ville Platte, LA

Overall it is one of the best state parks in Louisiana. Miles of trails for hiking & biking. Even a paddle trail out on the lake. Two campgrounds with bathroom/shower bldgs. Also has scenic primitive campsites that you can hike to and/or paddle to. No swimming allowed here. There is some alligators in the water. Lake is popular for fishing. Lots of birds here. Negatives are the wasps, ticks, and chiggers.

Fairview-Riverside State Park, Madisonville, LA

Nice campground, grass kept cut nice, trees with shade, spots for both tents and rv's/campers. Nice boardwalk and short trail, but no long hiking trails. Great access point to Tchefuncte River. Park is close to town also.

Lorrain Park, Calcasieu Parish, sw Louisiana

Nice small parish park with bathroom/shower bldg., some campsites, & reasonable fees. All is kept very clean. Not a big tent camping area though. Great location along Bayou Lacassine, with free public access boat ramp. Very scenic area with cypress trees. No hiking trails here, but great for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, birding.

CCU#4, unimproved canoe campsite #4, at Lake Fausse Point State Park, Louisiana

Nice primitive campsite on an island that you get to by boat (motor boat/canoe/kayak). Site is also known as Highland Waters campsite. Nice big flat area under trees including large live oaks to set up your tents or hammocks under. Has a fire ring, but no toilets, no water, no electrical. Does have a covered wooden table to serve as a rough kitchen kiosk. Wooden dock by waters edge also has a picnic table. Must call the state park to reserve this site.

Cloud Crossing Campground, Kisatchie Natl Forest, N of Goldonna, LA

Free public access small boat launch on to Saline Bayou at the campground. One end of the hiking trail along bayou is very close to the campground. Bathroom bldg. at campground has pit toilets only, not flush toilets. Campsites have fire rings and picnic tables. No electrical hook-up. First come - first serve, no reservations.