East Texas roadtrippers participating in the Great Outdoors Scavenger Hunt have seven stops to make close to home. Those locations are:
• Mission Tejas State Park
History | East Texas
In response to the French settling on the Texas coast in 1685, the Spaniards built Mission San Francisco de los Tejas near a Caddo Indian village in 1690 — the first mission in the province of Texas. While the original mission was destroyed more than 300 years ago, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a representation of the mission in the 1930s, and it still stands today.
Snap a selfie in front of the replica Mission Tejas.
• Tyler State Park
Parks | East Texas
789 Park Rd. 16 | Tyler
With more than 13 miles of trails, Tyler State Park is the perfect place to explore the Pineywoods region of Texas. Don’t miss the Whispering Pines Nature Trail, a 1-mile loop constructed by the CCC that passes through mixed hardwood-pine woodland. Walk quietly and you may spot a cardinal, tufted titmouse, red-bellied woodpecker or gray squirrel.
Snap a selfie at the Children’s Wading Pool area along the Whispering Pines trail.
• Lake O’the Pines
Splash | East Texas
Brushy Creek Park: 2669 FM 726 | Jefferson
Lake O’the Pines may be the most beautiful lake in East Texas you’ve never heard of. This nearly 17,000-acre lake is encircled by tall, gorgeous pine trees, and is located miles from the hustle of the city. There are several parks surrounding the lake; a favorite is Brushy Creek Park, with its heavily treed picnic area that overlooks a great swim beach.
Since it’s Lake O’the Pines, snap a selfie with the lake — and some pines! — in the background from any of the parks surrounding the lake.
• Atlanta State Park
Wild Texas | East Texas
927 Park Road 42 | Atlanta
Several bird species call Atlanta State Park home, including brown-headed nuthatches and pine warblers, but the towering trees are the focal point. Part of the East Texas timber belt, pine trees grow up to 90 feet tall along the shoreline of Wright Patman Lake; shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, white oak and other oaks also grow in the park.
Snap a sky-facing selfie beneath the shade of a giant pine tree.
• Rusk Footbridge
Quirky | East Texas
E. 5th Street | Rusk
Until Gatlinburg, Tennessee, stole the title in 2019 with the 680-foot SkyBridge, the Rusk Footbridge held the distinction of being the longest footbridge in America. Originally built in 1861, this 546-foot footbridge provided early settlers a means of travel to get into town during the rainy season, when the nearby creek flooded the valley. While road construction made the bridge unnecessary for commercial transportation, the bridge still allows visitors to Rusk an opportunity to stroll across this engineering marvel and enjoy the surrounding nature.
Snap a selfie along the Rusk footbridge.
• Birthplace Of Boogie Woogie
Music | East Texas
707 N. Washington Avenue | Marshall
In the 1870s, Black workers in the lumberyards of East Texas developed a new style of piano music while playing in camp barrel houses. Originating in Marshall, the music was first known as "fast western," but came to be known as “boogie-woogie.” Future boogie-woogie masters Floyd Dixon, Dave Alexander and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter (who adapted the style to guitar) all grew up in the Marshall area.
Snap a selfie with the “birthplace of Boogie Woogie” marker, located on the north patio of the Ginocchio Hotel.
• Stanley's Famous Pit Bbq
Good Eats | East Texas
525 S. Beckham Avenue, Tyler
Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ makes some of the best brisket in East Texas. Under the watchful eyes of owners Nick and Jen Pencis, who took over after the death of founder JD Stanley, the restaurant continues to serve up drool-worthy barbecue that’s worth the meat sweats.
Snap a selfie under the restaurant’s neon sign, or with a plate of food.