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Please Note: The Front Group Shelter is now open for reservations. The remainder of Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is closed until further notice due to tornado damage. Please check back for updates.


Status: Open through Wed Dec 31 2014   Season Dates


Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area was built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It surrounds a picturesque 45-acre lake that was once a log pond and a source of water for the Central Coal and Coke Company sawmill which operated from 1902 to 1920.

The facility is open year-round and includes a large campground, picnic areas, a reservable amphitheater, a swim area and many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Camping is available year-round.

The Davy Crockett National Forest, named for the legendary pioneer, contains more than 160,000 acres of East Texas woodlands, streams, recreation areas and wildlife habitat. Located in Houston and Trinity Counties, the forest is centrally located within the Neches and Trinity River basins.

Natural Features:

The campground is heavily forested with loblolly pine, oak and other hardwoods, and surrounds Ratcliff Lake. A wide variety of wildlife exists in the area, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.


Swimming, fishing, hunting, hiking and picnicking are the area's main activities. The designated swimming area and playground provides much fun for the kids (no lifeguard on duty).

Fishing piers are available for anglers to try for largemouth bass, bream and channel/blue catfish. Only electric motors are allowed on the lake. Principal game for hunting on the national forest includes squirrel, deer, quail, dove, turkey and waterfowl.

Three main hiking trails can be accessed from the facility: the 1.5-mile Tall Pines, 0.75-mile Trail Tamers and the 20-mile Four C, which winds through many types of forests to a scenic overlook.

Learn more about recreationin the national forest.


Ratcliff has 77 campsites, most of which are first-come, first-served. Reservable sites in the Dogwood Loop have electric hookups and can accommodate vehicles up to 50 ft. long. Flush toilets, hot and cold showers and trash bins are also provided.

There are also 17 single-family picnicking units, two reservable picnic shelters, a reservable amphitheater for up to 30 people, a concession stand and fishing piers.

Nearby Attractions:

The Big Slough Wilderness Area, located along the Neches River about five miles north of Ratcliff, is free of modern development and gives the visitor a place for solitude and primitive experiences.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Accessible Picnic Shelters
  • Accessible Swimming
  • Accessible Trails
  • Amphitheater
  • Biking
  • Birding
  • Boat Ramp
  • Boating
  • Campfire Rings
  • Canoe Rentals
  • Drinking Water
  • Dump Station
  • Electric Hookups
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Pier
  • Flush Toilets
  • General Store
  • Hiking
  • Historic Sites
  • Host
  • Interpretive Trails
  • Lake Access
  • Parking Area
  • Paved Parking Spurs
  • Paved Roads
  • Picnic Area
  • Playground
  • Swimming
  • Trash Collection
  • Wildlife Viewing
Greater Than 1 Mile
  • Hunting
Within 10 Miles
  • Bank
  • Horseback Riding
Know Before You Go
  • This facility has first-come, first-served sites
  • Limit one RV unit (fifth-wheel, motorhome, trailer or pop-up) or two tents per site; each extra vehicle is charged $3/night on-site and may need to park in parking lot across from concession area
  • No gas motors allowed on the lake
  • No ATVs or ORVs allowed in the park or on hiking trails
  • Picnic shelter is for day use only; no overnight camping allowed
  • Amphitheater site has no tables or grills
  • Click here for information about National Forests and Grasslands in Texas

Due to the spread of invasive insects, firewood from outside the area is not permitted. Help protect our forests by purchasing or collecting firewood at or near your camping destination and burning it on-site. Click here for more information.
  • Don't Move Firewood : Help protect our forests! Obtain your firewood near your destination to avoid the spread of pests. Using firewood from outside the area can threaten native trees and forests. Firewood from outside the area is not recommended as some states have quarantines in effect and firewood movement is illegal. Visit don' to learn more.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
31.38833, -95.155
31°23'18"N, 95°9'18"W

From Crockett, Texas, take State Highway 7 east for 15 miles. The recreation area is on the left between the towns of Ratcliff and Kennard.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

18551 State Highway 7 East

Phone Number:

Information: (936)655-2299 helps you discover and book trips to all of America's public places.
Learn more about us, or about any of our agency partners below:
Bureau of Land Management Federal Highway Administration National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration Smithsonian Institution USDA Forest Service US Army Corps of Engineers US Fish and Wildlife Service National Park Service Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tennessee Valley Authority Bureau of Reclamation National Archives Records Administration

Agency Partners