Sam Houston National Forest
Park Overview
The Sam Houston National Forest, one of four National Forests in Texas, is located 50 miles north of Houston. The forest contains 163, 037 acres between Huntsville, Conroe, Cleveland and Richards, Texas. With land in Montgomery, Walker, and San Jacinto counties, the Sam Houston National Forest is intermingled with privately owned timber lands and small farms.

The district ranger's office is located three miles west of New Waverly on FM 1375.

History of the Area
The three counties that contain the Sam Houston National Forest - Montgomery, San Jacinto, and Walker - have yielded evidence of human occupation dating back 12,000 years. More recently, the basins of the San Jacinto and Trinity Rivers were home to Atakapan-speaking groups known as the Bidai, Patiri, Deadose, and Akokisa. Primarily hunters and gatherers, some from these groups may have practiced some form of agriculture. Disease and pressure from European settlers led to their eventual extinction in the early 1800's. Evidence of occupations from as early as 7,000 years ago to the Twentieth Century has been documented by a number of archaeological sites within the national forest. The remains of our heritage, both prehistoric and historic, are a non-renewable resource protected by Federal and State regulations. Please remember not to disturb any sites, cemeteries, or structures. If you discover any artifacts during your visit to the national forest, please leave them in place and contact the Sam Houston Ranger District Office.
Hiking - Hiking is a popular way to enjoy the forest and its beauty. The 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail, a portion of which has gained National Recreation Trail status, winds through the Sam Houston National Forest. The trail, marked with two-inch by four-inch aluminum markers to guide hikers, has recreation areas available at three different points. Except during deer hunting season when camping is restricted to designated camps, primitive camping is allowed off the trail.

Lone Star Hiking Trail consists of three major sections. The 40-mile Lake Conroe section, lying west of Lake Conroe, begins near the intersection of FS 219 and FM 149 and has four connecting loops.

The Central Area of the trail runs eastward from Stubblefield Recreation Area, through the Four Notch area to Evergreen and then south down FM 945 to the trailhead parking lot. The Four Notch Loop, a 9.2 mile section, is in the middle of this 60-mile area of trail. The Winters Bayou/Tarkington Creek Area of the trail runs from FM 945 east to Double Lake Recreation Area, then south through Big Creek Scenic Area and then southwest through Winters Bayou. This 27-mile section of the trail has National Recreation status.

The Lone Star Hiking Trail may be hiked year round, but winter and spring are the most popular seasons due to the mild southeast Texas climate. During deer hunting season in November and December, hikers should wear highly visible clothing. Off-road vehicles are prohibited.

Kelly Pond Recreation Area and Multi-use Trailhead is located west of Interstate 45 approximately eight (8) miles along FM-1375 west of New Waverly. This site offers close locations to the multi-use (dirt bike, equestrian & mountain bike) trails and Lone Star Hiking Trail and has a restroom available. Picnic tables and campsites with lantern post and grills are available. Kelly Pond offers more primitive camping experience and is surrounded by Sam Houston National Forest.

Multi-use Trails ¿ Driving off-road vehicles (dirt bikes & small 4-wheelers) and horseback riding re two of the many popular recreational uses of the Sam Houston National Forest. Special trails have been designated and developed for these multiple uses include ORVs, equestrian & mountain bikes.

These trails are loop trails that return to the starting point. Trailheads have been located to give users a logical starting point and a parking area for vehicles. Camping is prohibited on the trail and in parking areas.

ORV use is restricted to the designated multi-use trails. Trail direction is marked with red arrows. Pipelines, powerlines, and other utility rights-of-way are closed to ORV use; however, crossing of these rights-of-way is permitted at designated locations.

These trails are closed after rainfall to protect soils, reduce erosion and protect sensitive fish in the area. Telephone menu messages provide open and closed trails information 24 hours a day.

There are three developed campgrounds in the Sam Houston National Forest (Cagle, Double Lake & Stubblefield Recreation Areas). Double Lake facilities are available by reservations or on a first-come, first-served basis if not previously reserved. Cagle and Stubblefield are available on a first-come, first-served basis only. Reservation can be completed by calling the National Recreation Service at 1/877/444-6777.
Fishing and Hunting
Fishing - On the northeast boundary of the forest lies the 82,600-acre Lake Livingston. Lake Conroe, to the southwest, offers 22,000 acres of water-oriented recreation. Both lakes are noted for black bass and year round fishing. The Forest Service provides three access points to Lake Conroe. A boat slip on the San Jacinto River near Stubblefield Recreation Area north on the lake, a boat ramp along the northeastern shore of Lake Conroe at Cagle Recreation Area, and another boat ramp is at Scotts Ridge on the southwestern shore of the lake.

Hunting - The entire Sam Houston National Forest is designated as a wildlife management area through a cooperative agreement between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Forest Service. This special designation provides benefits to those who use the Sam Houston National Forest, including hunters, and to the wildlife that live or forage there. Extra fees paid by hunters who use wildlife management areas are collected by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and are returned to the Forest Service for use in those areas. These funds pay for a variety of programs to improve wildlife habitat and other enhancement programs such as wild turkey restoration, creation of wildlife openings and additional law enforcement. They can also be used to gather and analyze data to improve wildlife habitat. Those who wish to hunt deer or small game in the Sam Houston National Forest must purchase the appropriate wildlife management area hunting permit available where state hunting license are sold. Hunters and those who accompany them must wear hunter orange while hunting with a firearm in the Sam Houston National Forest. Hunters and fishermen are required to have a Texas license and follow State regulations.

Both Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston offer fine pleasure boating and water sports. Lake Conroe and the southern section of Lake Livingston offer open water for sailing.
Nature of the Area
Deer is the most popular game animal in the Sam Houston National Forest, with squirrels second. Quail and dove are found around newly regenerated timberland. For the water sportsman, fishing and duck hunting can be enjoyed on area lakes and streams.

Lake Conroe and the surrounding National Forest lands provide wintering habitat for the endangered bald eagle. During the winter months, the eagle is not an uncommon sight soaring over the lake, perched on a flooded snag or in a tall pine along the shoreline.

Another endangered species, the red-cockaded woodpecker, is found throughout the Sam Houston National Forest and frequently spotted by observant visitors. The small black and white woodpecker with distinctive large white cheek patches is slightly larger than a bluebird. The male has a single streak of red feathers on each side of his head.

The woodpecker makes its home by pecking cavities in large, living pine trees. These cavities are later used by a variety of forest wildlife including other woodpeckers, bluebirds, screech owls, wood ducks, squirrels, and honey bees.

The red-cockaded woodpecker was designated an endangered species in 1970. This unique little bird and its habitat are fully protected on the Sam Houston National Forest. Wherever these birds are found, the management emphasis is directed toward providing the special habitat they require.


Water - The Sam Houston National Forest is drained through several small creeks into the east and west forks of the San Jacinto River, and a small portion drains into Lake Livingston.

Soil - The Sam Houston National Forest lies within the Gulf Coastal Plains, and the principal soils were developed from unconsolidated beds of clay, sand, sandy clay, or clay shale materials comprising old non-calcareous sediments of the Tertiary and Pleistocene Ages. The soils range from slightly to severely erosive, although any of the soils in the forest will erode under the right conditions.

Minerals - Exploration and drilling for minerals in the Sam Houston National Forest is part of the multiple-use program. Mineral extraction and drilling, allowed under certain conditions, help meet energy needs. Many of the forest minerals belong to private entities who reserved the mineral rights when the lands were purchased during the 1930's, and under the terms of the deed, these outstanding and reserved minerals can be legally explored and removed by the owner.

Reviews (3)Write A Review
Very Good
Just OK
February 27, by Greg S.
Excellent place for the family
I have been fortunate enough to grow up near the Sam Houston National Forest and have hunted, fished, hiked, and explored the land. The forest is beautiful and the opportunities for learning are endless.
May 5, by Cindy
We love the trails it is quite and peaceful and the people you do see are very nice.
April 27
Reservations ONLY
Cagle is a RESERVATION ONLY PARK. You might get lucky driving there, but your best to make a reservation for the site you want.
Nearby Parks
92 km away.
120 km away.