One of four National Forests in Texas, Sam Houston offers 140 miles of ecological diversity and a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. With an abundance of miles to explore, this is a hiking and mountain biking wonderland! Two scenic areas found in the park are Big Creek and Winters Bayou.
Sam Houston National Forest is located 50 miles north of Houston. A day use fee is required when entering the forest. Camping is offered on a first-come, first-served basis in developed recreation areas, and popular areas such as Cagle and Double Lake, offer reservations through recreation.gov. Primitive camping is allowed anywhere in the general forest area, except during deer hunting season or unless posted otherwise.
There are approximately 132 miles of designated hiking trails at Sam Houston National Forest! The Lone Star Hiking Trail meanders through the scenic areas of the forest. The geographical location of the area allows the pine forests of the southeastern United States to join the blackland prairies of central Texas. The result is a special mix of eastern and western species of birds and other wildlife found nowhere else in the state.
Double Lake Recreation Area (near Coldspring) offers the best single-track trails in the forest, designed specifically for mountain biking. This 21 mile loop surrounding the lake is a popular annual stop for the Texas Mountain Biking Riding Association (TMBRA) race series. For bikers eager to explore more of the forest, Cagle (41.75 miles) and Kelly’s Pond (42.25 miles) offer additional (bi-directional and multi-use) trails to explore. There is a day use fee of $5 to ride any part of Sam Houston National Forest.
Kayaking and Canoeing
Boat and canoe rentals are available seasonably. Recreation areas found at Double Lake and Stubblefield offer non-motorized boat access, allowing paddlers to hear nature’s secrets.
Spending time in the water after exploring the trails on a warm (or hot) day is simply one of the best experiences life can offer! Swimming is available at Double Lake and Scott’s Ridge (day use only). During extreme drought conditions, awareness of lake conditions and areas affected by dead trees is important.
Know Before You Go
Dogs are allowed but must remain on a leash at all times. From early spring to summer the U.S. Forest Service conducts controlled burns in the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas. Before planning a visit to the park, calling and asking for the latest forest information is recommended. Summer temperatures are hot; mosquitoes, horse flies, and larger crowds around the water are to be expected.