You heard right: We have forests, too!
The topography in Texas is among the most varied of any state, and as we say, it ain’t bragging if it’s true. It’s not all wide-open spaces and vast prairies (although we’ve got that, too!). Travel east and you’ll uncover a public lands oasis where national forests are lush with thick wooded trees, prairies, marshes and winding rivers—not to mention incredible wildlife and birding. The four national forests of Texas—the Angelina, Davy Crockett, Sabine and Sam Houston—comprise hundreds of thousands of acres and invite adventurers of all types to explore, hike, fish, hunt, go birding and enjoy peaceful and magnificent views.
Angelina National Forest
The easternmost of the four, the Sabine National Forest is situated on the border between Texas and Louisiana, covering more than 160,000 acres of piney woods that snake around the Toledo Bend Reservoir. Anglers have been known to hook trophy-sized striped bass in the 30-pound range. Hit the trail on the 28-mile “Trail Between the Lakes”, or bring a bike and take in the colors of the season, peaking with colorful blooms in spring and vibrant changing leaves come fall.
Sabine National Forest
Deep in the heart of East Texas, the Angelina National Forest is in the Neches River Basin on the shores of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in the upper Gulf Coastal plans. Hit the great outdoors after a day in nearby Houston or Corpus Christi. A variety of developed recreational areas attract outdoor lovers to the Angelina. Test your waterskiing skills on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir or enjoy a picnic on the scenic shores. The Caney Creek and Sandy Creek recreation areas are favorites for camping, while anglers head to Bouton Lake Recreation Area, a 12-acre lake adjacent to the Neches River, to wet their line.
Davy Crockett National Forest
Just west of Lufkin, you’ll surely feel like the king of the wild frontier exploring the Davy Crockett National Forest. Its woodlands, streams and diverse wildlife are nestled in the Neches and Trinity River basins, and its many wonders include a beach perfect for a sunny-day dip, trails winding through towering pine trees, and more than 50 miles of developed horse trails. Have your cameras ready on the Neches Bluff Overlook trail that takes hikers to a stunning panoramic view of the pine-hardwood forests below. Eagle-eyed birders will delight in searching for the red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species managed in the forest.
Sam Houston National Forest
The Sam Houston National Forest is located less than an hour north of Houston, and encompasses multiple recreation areas: Little Lake Creek Wilderness, Big Creek Scenic Area, Winters Bayou Scenic Area, Double Lake Recreation Area, and more. While camping and fishing are key attractions, the shining star of the Sam Houston National Forest is the 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail that winds through the forest—the longest continuous hiking trail in the state. The trail is most popular during the mild winter months and spring, and hikers can camp in designated spots along the trail except for during deer hunting season. If pedal-powered travel is your preferred mode of exploration, take to the scenic mountain bike trails—a favorite is located in the Double Lake Recreation Area.