Story and photos by Travis Perkins
Tucked away in no man's land, between the Central and the Gulf Coast regions, lies the Sam Houston National Forest, or what I like to call the Lungs of Texas. Here you will find Gulf Coast weather patterns, paired with fertile soil and warm temperatures, sustaining some of the state's most densely forested lands. Tall pines reach toward the sky as an abundance of wildlife and lush vegetation crowd the forest floor. The Sam Houston National Forest is roughly the size of a small island and protected under the U.S. National Forest Service. It is the hidden gem of the Houston area and boasts ample amounts of hiking, biking, camping and fishing.
Recently, we stumbled upon some of the most pristine spring weather conditions this area can provide, and decided it was time to get out of dodge for some weekend adventuring on the Lone Star Hiking Trail. (This is TX’s own little “thru-hike” trail with roughly 100 miles of sustained trail and camping)
A short drive out of the city brought us to the Stubblefield Recreational Area on the north side of Lake Conroe, where we camped for the night, grilled steaks, and (due to a bit of rushed planning) ate them with our pocket knives around a roaring fire.
The next morning we broke down camp, packed, gulped a bit of liquid courage (coffee!) and hit the trail via the Stubblefield access, due east. As the trail skirted around the north bend of Lake Conroe and under the canopy of large pines, we marveled at the 11 different sections that make up the Lonestar Trail, with multiple trail-heads and back-country access points within each of them. We found ourselves losing track of time, space, and the pressures of city life as we became engulfed in the spring wild-flowers in bloom and the cool breeze of shifting seasons.
After putting in the miles and remembering that we would need to double back the next morning, we decided to make camp early, relaxing to the sounds of the forest and crackling fire for the remainder of the evening.
The next morning, we made a pre-dawn start and headed back. As the sun rose through the pines, it broke through the misty morning air and brought us, as well as the forest, to life. The immense value of simply walking through the woods is made known in moments like these. These moments that seem to last forever, awakening us, moving us beyond, and creating fullness of life.
It was a RooLife weekend, no doubt about it, and it brought about an entirely new respect for the piney woods of East TX.