Lake Life in the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX Area

Sunset Bay, White Rock Lake, Dallas Texas

The Dallas-Fort Worth region often seems like an endless sea of asphalt, concrete and steel. Buildings and boulevards dominate the landscape, and it can feel as though lake life is hundreds of miles away.

Actually, it takes less than a 30-minute drive from the DFW metroplex to reach many of the lakes surrounding the city. This is where hustle and bustle are replaced by peace and quiet.

“It’s amazing that you can be so close to the metro area, but it feels like you’re out in the middle of wilderness,” says William Ford, Parks and Recreation Director for the city of Cedar Hill, which is located approximately 15 miles from downtown Dallas and is home to 7,500-acre Joe Pool Lake. “It’s one of the reasons this area is so appealing to people.”

There are approximately 50 major lakes and reservoirs within 100 miles of Dallas-Fort Worth. Here is a quick look at five of the closer ones:

Eagle Mountain Lake

Eagle mountain lake home shoreline Dallas Fort Worth

Located 15 miles outside Fort Worth, Eagle Mountain Lake has something for nearly all tastes. Nature lovers can enjoy the hiking trails that lead to numerous hills and bluffs, offering picturesque views of the lake. All manner of watersports are available, and the 8,700-acre lake is regularly stocked with bass and catfish for anglers. There is even a designated party cove for boaters who prefer their fun a little more on the boisterous side.

Lake Grapevine

Lake grapevine person wakeboarding Dallas Fort Worth area
Photo courtesy of Tour Texas.

In addition to such regular water activities as boating and fishing, Lake Grapevine is home to the largest floating aqua park in Texas. Spread out over 25,000 square feet, Altitude H2O offers floating trampolines, slides and an obstacle course. There are also 40 miles of paved and natural trails around the 7,200-acre lake, for those seeking a relaxed lake experience.

Joe Pool Lake

Serene sunrise over Joe Pool Lake
Photo courtesy of Mastodon.

Joe Pool Lake borders four different parks, including the popular Cedar Hill State Park. As a result, there are numerous boat ramps, beaches, fishing areas, campsites and picnic shelters surrounding the lake. Joe Pool also is near Dogwood Canyon, a 250-acre forested ravine that is a favorite for birdwatchers. Dogwood’s 2 miles of hiking trails lead to some of the highest elevations in Dallas County, providing beautiful views of the lake.

Lake Lavon

Lake Lavon view
Photo courtesy of AgriLife Today.

With 121 miles of shoreline along its 21,400 acres, Lake Lavon lives up to the reputation of everything being bigger in Texas. Because of its size, there are amenities galore around the lake. These include 16 parks, 244 picnic sites, 19 boat ramps, five beaches and six group shelters for large picnics. There also are hiking / biking trails in the area, as well as a 9-mile equestrian trail. And the lake itself is a prolific fishing hole for sunfish, crappie and catfish.

White Rock Lake

White Rock Lake during autumn with leaves changing colors Dallas Fort Worth
Photo courtesy of White Rock Lake.

It doesn’t get much closer to the metroplex than this, as White Rock Lake is located just 5 miles from downtown Dallas. Originally used as a water source for the city, this 1,015-acre lake has nearly 10 miles of shoreline trails as well as an official Audubon Society bird-watching area. There are fishing opportunities for bass, catfish and sunfish, and boating activities are available through both the White Rock Boat Club and the 80-year-old Corinthian Sailing Club.

So despite initial appearances, there is much more to the Dallas-Fort Worth area than the glass and steel that originally meets the eye.

“There are plenty of natural resources in this area,” Ford says. “With all the natural beauty that we have around here, you can get out and enjoy it whether you’re a walker, biker, jogger, boater, whatever.”

Click here to to learn more about lake life in Texas.

Lake Charles, A Community ‘that likes to celebrate just about everything’

Sun setting over Interstate 10 Bridge Lake Charles Louisiana
Photo courtesy of Lindsey Janies Photography.

There are lakes where the primary objective is simply to get away from it all. The less to do, the better. And then there is Lake Charles, located about halfway between Houston and New Orleans, which dishes up a bubbling gumbo of enjoyable activities within the heart of southwestern Louisiana Cajun country.

Sure, the area offers plenty of relaxing outdoor options, from the only inland white-sand beach between Texas and Florida, to a wide world of water recreation, to a flock of opportunities for bird watchers. But there also are casinos and golf courses and restaurants galore. And some sort of event each week, a total of more than 75 per year.

Prien Lake Park with view of I210 bridge
Photo courtesy of Lindsey Janies Photography.

“We’re a community that likes to celebrate just about everything,” says William Precht, a Louisiana native and Senior Media / Public Relations Manager for the Lake Charles / Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We have all these fairs and festivals and live entertainment, much of which happens along the lakefront. And folks in the community like to get out and enjoy it all together.”

Water, the Heart of the Community

Boats out on water at Lake Charles LA during sunset
Photo courtesy of Lindsey Janies Photography.

Water, of course, is at the heart of everything. The city of Lake Charles sits alongside its namesake lake, which connects to a series of other lakes, reservoirs, and tributaries all the way to the Gulf of Mexico about 30 miles south. These include Prien Lake, which has multiple access points for boats and provides some of the best sunset views in the area, and Calcasieu Lake, a popular fishing location for trout, redfish and flounder.

Lake Charles Pirate Festival boat on water with crowd
Photo courtesy of iExplore.

Meanwhile, Lake Charles itself boasts a beautiful boardwalk that connects the beaches to a series of waterfront parks. The highlight along this trail is the Lakefront Promenade at Bord du Lac Park. The Promenade is home to many of the area’s annual events, including the 12-day long Louisiana Pirate Festival, a local tradition for more than 60 years.

“We’re a community that is focused on the water,” Precht says. “People are either on the water, or they’re along the lakefront looking at the water. Being outdoors is one of the main reasons that folks come here. It’s just a beautiful area that keeps growing with more fun things to do.”

Lake Charles Creole Nature Trail

Creole Nature Trail in Lake Charles during the day with view
Photo courtesy of Lindsey Janies Photography.

Lake Charles also is the getaway point for the 180-mile Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, one of only 43 designated scenic byways in the United States. Known as “Louisiana’s Outback, the Trail passes through three major wildlife refuges spread out over a combined 220,000 acres. The marshlands along the Trail are teeming with more than 400 bird species and a variety of other critters.

“The Creole Nature Trail is an awesome way to see a lot of the wildlife that is common to our area,” says Sheron Faulk, owner of the outdoor recreation store Ship to Shore Company in Lake Charles. “It’s pretty common to see an alligator on the trail. And for birders, there are some beautiful birds that you can’t see so easily in other locations that are abundant here.”

Whether you are visiting or thinking of making this lake your home, birds, water, and loads of fun are all abundant in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

To learn more about what Lake Charles has to offer, click here.

Lake Wallenpaupack, Lake of Big Fun in the Poconos

The area in the Pocono Mountains that Native Americans called “the stream of swift and slow water” is now more like “the lake of big fun.” But no matter how you wish to translate it, Lake Wallenpaupack is the focal point of a charming community that offers plenty of recreation and entertainment options for tourists and residents alike.

The expansive 5,700-acre lake has 52 miles of uninterrupted shoreline, providing easy access to the water. Boats abound during the warmer months, and fishing is popular throughout the year. And all this takes place deep within the breathtaking beauty of the tree-filled Poconos.

“One of the great things about this lake is the natural beauty of the shoreline,” says Steve Gelderman, co-owner of Wallenpaupack Scenic Boat Tours. “Everywhere you look you can see these landscapes along with wildlife like bald eagles and ducks. You can really enjoy the natural beauty of the lake.”

Wally Lake Fest with tens of boats during the summer
Wally Lake Fest, Lake Wallenpaupack, PA

Area residents add a little buzz to this beauty with a series of festivals extolling life in Wally World. The big event is Wally Lake Fest, held each August with the support of numerous local businesses and mountain resorts. Vendors take over the shoreline around the town of Hawley, while bands play on a floating stage surrounded by a flotilla of boats and kayaks, creating a sort of Wallypalooza.

“It’s a call to the local community to showcase lake life,” says Rory O’Fee director of marketing for Woodlach Resort and one of the event’s founders. “The music on the lake is a cool spectacle to see. And that’s just one part of what’s developed into a very popular festival.”

The fun doesn’t stop once the temperature drops, either. The city of Hawley hosts a pre-Christmas Winterfest, which honors the season the old-fashioned way with campfires and horse-drawn carriage rides. “It harkens back to the town’s historic, Victorian-era roots,” O’Fee says. “The town beams for this weekend of nostalgic fanfare.”

Happy family on horse drawn sleigh ride during the winter
Photo courtesy of The French Manor.

Then a month later in January, once winter truly arrives and the lake freezes over, the area celebrates with Wally Ice Fest. Eight hockey rinks, 12 curling rinks, and a 9-hole golf course are created on top of the lake, along with spaces for vendors and music.

Wally Ice Fest, Lake Wallenpaupack, PA

“It’s another event that shows the strong community we have around the lake,” O’Fee says. “Everybody comes together to support one another. It’s small-town America on a big lake.”

Of course, Lake Wallenpaupack also has plenty of places where you can simply get away from it all. There are six public recreation areas featuring hundreds of acres of forest lands, wildlife, trails, campsites, and boat slips. The area also is home to the Lacawac Sanctuary, a pristine 556-acre nature preserve with 8 miles of hiking trails.

Kayaks at Lake Wallenpaupack shoreline

“It’s still not heavily developed around the lake, so it feels like being out in the country,” says James Hamill, director of public relations at the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “But you also have a lot of opportunities to enjoy culture, music, arts, antique shops, art galleries. Everything compliments each other.“

So many people have fond memories of coming back year after year to this huge lake. It’s just a beautiful place to recreate and fish and hike, with no shortage of things to see and do. If you want to live in an area where you can enjoy it all, Lake Wallenpaupack is one of the top places.”

To see more about Lake Wallenpaupack, visit our home listings here.