Few Texas heroes are as revered as Davy Crockett, the coonskin-cap-wearing, rifle-swinging, fiddle-playing frontiersman from Tennessee who built his legend in the Lone Star State. The East Texas town of Crockett bears his name and tells some amazing stories about him. Throw in a little music and a whole lot of nature, and you’ve got a day trip that’s sure to quench your thirst for adventure.

David Crockett Spring

No trip to Crockett is complete without a stop at the town’s namesake spring. Davy stopped here on his way to the Alamo and took the most famous sip of water in Texas history. A mural and marker commemorate the occasion. I’m pretty sure the municipal water fountain wasn’t there in the 1830s. Nonetheless, visitors can retrace Davy’s steps and quench their own super-size thirst.

The Moosehead Cafe

Crockett is the seat of a county bearing the name of another hero, Sam Houston. On the Houston County Courthouse square, you’ll find a restaurant with enough food to feed an entire herd of moose. (Or is it meese?) Sit at the old diner counter and order up the daily lunch special, which ranges from fried chicken to smothered hamburger steak. The Reuben sandwich comes with a zesty house-made secret sauce.

Davy Crockett National Forest

Just a short drive east, you’ll find the same pines that once shaded Davy. This national forest spans 160,000 acres of pristine East Texas landscape. Start at the Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, where you can swim or hike on the 20-mile Four C Trail. If you prefer a different mode of transportation through the woods, check out the Piney Creek Horse Trail or the Neches-Davy Crockett Paddling Trail.

Mission Tejas State Park

This beautiful park offers a great opportunity to enjoy both the natural and human histories of Texas. You’ll find plenty of trails but also a reconstruction of Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, the first Spanish mission in Texas, built in the 1690s. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision the woods bustling with Spanish monks as they sought to stake their claim to Texas before the French. The mission was abandoned in 1693, and in 1731 it was relocated to San Antonio, where it became Mission Espada.

Camp Street Cafe & Store

Dive into Crockett’s musical side along the famous South Third Street, where artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Blind Lemon Jefferson once played for tips. During the 1930s through ’60s, many famous blues musicians passed through Crockett on the “chitlin’ circuit.” Join the locals for an evening of live music and community at this BYOB listening room that really isn’t a “café” at all. If you’re lucky, you might even get to hear owner Pipp Gillette do some pickin’ on the banjo and jangling of his rib bones.

Whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.

Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper travel show on PBS. To view the Crockett episode visit thedaytripper.com. Follow along on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

From the February 2020 issue

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