One might think that Texas doesn’t have good venues for trail running. Think again. The Lone Star Trail is a 128 mile trail in the Sam Houston National Forest an hour north of Houston that runs in an ark shape spanning from the west end to the east end of the forest. The setting is the extremely attractive piney woods ecosystem where several species of pines and hardwoods create a very pleasant forest. A few areas of the region have heightened protection, including the Little Lake Creek Wilderness, the Big Creek Scenic Area, and the Winters Bayou Scenic Area. Moreover, one can connect into Huntsville State Park for another 30 miles of more traveled trail (these are shared with equestrians and bicyclists). I imagine 99% of Houstonians have never heard of this treasure, let alone anybody outside of Texas, but it definitely deserves more interest and attention (or maybe not? I like the solitude and wilderness feeling).
The trail crosses several roads and a few miles are on country road in order to connect through private property. However, by in large, the 128 miles are great trail, primarily single track with a shady forest canopy. There are several loop possibilities that are included in the mileage total so I believe that if one were to run it straight through on the shortest possible route it would be about 100 miles. What a stellar point-to-point course that would be!
On this day I ran a 6 mile stretch of the Lone Star Trail (12 mile round trip) from Big Creek Scenic Area to Double Lake. The Big Creek Scenic Area has great plant diversity and a thick understory. The 4.7 mile section to Double Lake is gently rolling single track through towering pine trees – great stuff. Double Lake is a small lake with camping and recreation (road accessible). There are several water fountains at Double Lake to refill the water bottle. I continued past Double Lake on the Lone Star Trail for another 1.25 miles to the crossing of FM 1025, which was another awesome section of twisty single track under the pines. I noticed several offshoot trails around Double Lake and later found out there is another 8 miles of trail around the lake. These trails are open to mountain bikers but they look like more great single track. Since it’s hunting season in Texas, the orange shirt from this year’s edition of the Golden Hills Marathon came in handy! Thankfully, I didn’t interrupt any hunts :)
More photos after the jump!