Review: Eisenhower State Park is about an hour and a half north of Dallas, on the banks of Lake Texoma in Sherman. When looking at places to visit, the low mileage for hiking (about 4 miles) could deter you from making the drive, but there is much to discover. The cliffs overlooking the lake are beautiful, and this park offers views you won’t find in the general DFW area. Make the time to visit, it’s worth the time spent!
Distance: Eisenhower State Park has one main hiking trail, about 4 miles total out and back. There is also a trail system for motorized vehicles (ATV or dirt bike), but it’s not recommended to do these on foot!
Area of Town: North of DFW, about an hour and a half up Central Expressway (75) towards Sherman.
Facilities: This is a state park so check the map for bathrooms, parking lots, picnic tables, etc.
Suitable for: Hiking, Mountain Bike, Swimming, ATVs too!
Type of Trail: Natural Trails, including an ATV trail (don’t recommend hiking on these!)
Shade: It’s a large park, and much of the trails are under shaded conditions
Where to Park: Within Eisenhower State Park you’ll find multiple spots to park and access the various trails and attractions
Official Website: Eisenhower State Park
I’ll be honest, this state park never hit high on my list of places to visit, due to the low mileage on the map (only about 4 miles of hiking trails) and the distance to get there (about an hour and a half from Dallas). However, as I was looking for more spots in the area to explore, and seeing that Eisenhower State Park had cliffs, I decided to hop into the Jeep and head up North to visit. I’m so glad I did!
I went on a very hot day in July, so knew i didn’t have time to do the entire out and back Ike’s trail, so instead i took it in two segments. After entering the park, i drove out towards Lover’s Leap (western side of the park), and parked in the last parking spot available. I walked out to the picnic tables, and easily found the trail. I initially went to the left, heading towards Lover’s Leap (Point of Interest 4 on the map). The views here impressed me, as I was high up over the lake, giving me a nice view of Texoma and the cliffs below.
Ike’s Hike and Bike Trail
The trail here is fairly forested, with occasional views of the lake and the rocks below. There is no way to get down to the water-side from this part of the trail, but there are a few places to look out over the lake towards the north, and a few of these look-outs are spectacular!
Continue on until you get to Lover’s Leap, which gives you even better views of the lake, but also the cliffs you’ve just come from. If you look down towards the water’s edge, you’ll see some small caves. There is a beach at the base of the cliffs that you can reach via a small trail (the pink line on the map, just below Lover’s Leap), but at the time I was there it was closed for Covid. The views from the Leap are amazing, but make sure to go off the trail and explore the Elm Creek Camping Area, which gives views to the west of the park at some amazing looking homes (with spectacular views), and also back towards the Leap itself. This is the highlight of the Park, to me, taking in these views!
Rather than follow the trail around the park, as it was already getting hot on the day I visited, I turned back and retraced my steps. Passing the parking lot i parked in, I continued towards the Ammonite Crossing (Point of Interest 3 on the map). The trail will begin to dip towards lake level as you follow this part of the trail. You will continue to be beneath the canopy of trees and under shade. Once you pass the bridge, you’ll find access to the lake and take in the views. While i was there, some people were sunbathing on the rocky shore. The views here again are worth stopping to enjoy, and there are spots to fish, off the dock, and along the shore.
Armadillo Hill Trail
At this point i headed back to my Jeep, to make one last stop before i headed back to Dallas. I drove to the eastern side of the park, and parked at the start of the Armadillo Hill Trail. This was a fairly easy and flat trail, and really the ‘start’ of the 4 mile trail. Here i found markers with information about the local flora and fauna. This is not the most exciting part of the park. If you have time to do a full 8 hour hike (four out and four back), this is definitely the best place to begin your adventure. If you have small kids or want an easier stretch to hike, this is certainly an easy area to explore. Once you get to market 3, where the Ike’s Bike and Hike Trail starts, the difficulty really ramps up, which would make it a good place to stop (but don’t forget to see Lover’s Leap!). When i wandered through this trail, the markets were interesting (see below for an example) and enjoyed the Pocket Prairie. There are a few lake views here, but nothing compared to the Ike’s Trail.
This is a park I definitely plan to return to in the future. I’d love to do the full 4 mile trip out and back, on a cooler day with blue skies (it was very hazy when I visited). Another example of not judging a place by a map alone. Having these cliff views, the elevation which you don’t see much of in North Texas, plus these rocky beaches, this is a spot you should most definitely visit! And if you have a dirt bike or ATV, there are trails for you here as well, which frankly I’m not sure I’ve seen before at the other state parks in the area!