The action at Toledo Bend doesn’t stop on the water. From NASA to mini-golf, the area is brimming with education, fine food and fun.
77-14. The final weight from Ben Milliken’s St. Croix Bassmaster Open win this April seemed to signal a resurgence for Toledo Bend. A three day win total averaging just under 26 pounds per day certainly feels like a statement that one of the best bass lakes in the country for decades is still alive and well. Perhaps, the Bend is even on the upswing.
Boaters weighed more than 5,000 pounds of bass at the Bend this April, proving this Sabine River staple perched on the Texas and Louisiana state line is still a worthwhile destination for bass anglers itching to hit the road. Situated in the center of a triangle from Dallas to Houston to New Orleans, this storied bass fishery offers easy access from multiple metropolitan areas—and a laundry list of nearby activities, eateries and lodging options to boot.
Here’s how to make the most of your next visit to Toledo Bend when you pull the boat out of the water.
Parks, museums and outdoor adventure
Located on the Louisiana side of the lake, Toledo Bend Family Adventure Park is a literal playground of swimming pools and waterslides that’s fun for the whole family. Though the park closes for the season on October 1. The action fires right back up again in the spring, though, with a full 18-hole mini-golf course and splash pad.
On the Texas side of the lake, the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum pays homage to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster victims. The shuttle, which first took flight in 1981, infamously disintegrated over East Texas upon re-entry into the planet’s atmosphere on February 1, 2003 after a 17-day science mission in orbit. All seven crew members lost their lives onboard.
The museum honoring the tragedy opened in 2011 and features a tour through the journey of the shuttle’s illustrious career along with the disaster and recovery efforts, which resulted in the loss of two more lives.
Anglers looking to stretch their legs should consider Sabine County’s Trail Between the Lakes. Starting at Lakeview Recreation Area on Toledo Bend, the 28-mile hiking trail winds through the canopies of Sabine National Forest through the habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, along a well-marked route. Dispersed camping is allowed on the trail throughout the year with the exception of deer season.
Lodging, camping and resort life
State park fans will find plenty to love at Toledo Bend. The lake’s north and south shores are flanked by state parks. North Toledo Bend State Park offers a double boat launch ramp and a short biking loop along with a fish cleaning station, 55 RV-friendly campsites and seven glamping tents. Its cousin on the south shore, South Toledo Bend State Park, mirrors the amenities and ramp setup while offering 42 campsites with water and electrical hookups.
Cabins, RV campsites and lodges await at Wildwood Resort, one of the preeminent luxury accommodations on Toledo Bend. The resorts cabins come complete fully furnished in sizes that range from two-person to large enough for multiple families. Wildwood also offers 45 modern RV sites with picnic tables along with water and electrical hookups.
Bridge Bay Resort near Pendleton Bridge offers a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with a 16-slip covered boat house and basic, lakeside cabins. While most aren’t flashy, they are well-equipped and offer a range of occupancy options from two bedroom to five bedrooms. An onsite boat ramp makes for easy access to the lake.
In the San Miguel Bay, family-run Green Acres Fishing Lodge caters to tournament bass anglers and local bass clubs with a gated property housing cabins and a bed and breakfast—early mornings eggs and bacon included.
Eats and treats
Serving up down home classics like fried oysters, blooming onions, stuffed cajun taters, stuffed shrimp and frog legs, Fisherman’s Galley Restaurant is a fan favorite near Pendleton Bridge.
Saddle up to a table at the Lost Frontier R.V. Park & Marina’s bar and grill in Hemphill, Texas for juicy burgers, steaks and shrimp. House favorites like the tequila ribeye blend with American sides like macaroni and cheese, charro beans and fried okra in a no-fuss, sports bar-like atmosphere.
Barbecue fans can get their fix at Texas Joe’s Backporch BBQ. Located about 15 miles from Toledo Bend’s western shores—technically lakeside at another legendary fishery, Sam Rayburn—Texas Joe’s cranks out award-winning, slow smoked Texas brisket.
A change of pace lies in wait at Martone’s Italian Restaurant in Many, Louisiana. Find live music, Italian American classics like eggplant parmesan and chicken alfredo and creative, wood fired pizzas just minutes from east side lodging. The dishes at Martone’s are inspired by 100-year-old family recipes that have garnered the restaurant a reputation as one of the best around.
Swing by Sabean’s Coffee, Creamery and Gift Shop to sooth that sweet tooth at an old-fashioned soda fountain souped up with specialty lattes. Choose from sweet cinnamon pecan, white chocolate mocha or caramel bourbon coffee drinks or dive right in to a bee’s knees creamsicle or peaches and cream Italian soda.