Sam Houston National Forest Overview

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Classified as an Urban Forest, Sam Houston National Forest is located only 30 miles from the city of the same name. The forest contains 162,984 acres of southeast Texas "pineywoods." The forest is a popular destination for city-folk and out-of-towners alike. The forest's Lake Conroe and Double Lakes are popular destinations for swimming, paddling and fishing. The 140-mile-long Lone Star Hiking Trail rambles for 27 miles through the forest.

The best times to visit the forest are the spring and fall; summer can be extremely hot.

Hike the Lone Star Trail
Open exclusively to hikers, the Lone Star Trail transects the entire Sam Houston National Forest from near Richards, Texas, in the west, to near Cleveland, Texas, in the east. Marked by small aluminum tags, the trail takes the hiker through a multitude of plant communities and geographical experiences—a real peak at the natural east Texas. The trail has five loops that, in conjunction with the main trail, offer a choice array of day hikes and overnighters.

Mountain Bike near Cold Springs
On the east side of the forest, just south of Cold Springs, there's an eight-mile mountain bike trail. Anywhere else, this wouldn't be a big deal, but in Texas, mountain bikers are hard-pressed to find trails in the national forest. This particular trail was built by mountain bikers, so you know it'll be laid out just the way a mountain biker would want it. The rolling, hilly terrain makes the route interesting; the trail follows ridges over drainages, winding through the pine forests and finally looping back to where it began.

Fish Lake Conroe
By far, the most popular attribute of the Conroe/Montgomery County area is the 22,000-acre Lake Conroe. The lake has become a popular site for swimming, boating, fishing and sailing. Fish from the shore, or take a boat out to the center of the water. You never know when you might catch that trophy bass. The lake is well-stocked with bluegill as well.

Camp at Little Lake Creek
Little Lake Creek Wilderness, a 3,810-acre wilderness area, provides the most primitive (read: the best) type of recreational camping. The wilderness was named after a slow-moving, pondy creek that flows through the wilderness's interior. Besides being a crucial habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, the wilderness has a high concentration of hawks and owls within its water oak-cottonwood community.

Drive the Texas Forest Trail
This 840-mile drive will take you through East Texas' Piney Woods region, and connects the Sam Houston National Forest with the Angelina, the Davey Crockett and Sabine National forests. The route includes historical points as well as scenic vistas.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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