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Ultralight Backpacking On The Lone Star Hiking Trail: 96 Miles Of Texas Heat

For those like me who weren't aware of the Lone Star Hiking Trail (LSHT) near Houston, Texas. It is the longest footpath in the state of Texas coming in at 96 miles. #lsht #hiking #texas #thruhike #backpacking
Written By: Josh Koop
December 9, 2019
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For those like me who weren't aware of the Lone Star Hiking Trail (LSHT) near Houston, Texas. It is the longest footpath in the state of Texas coming in at 96 miles. It is one of the few trails in the state that that can be done as a multi-day backpacking trip.

The LSHT trail traverses the length of the Sam Houston National Forest which is about 1 hour north of Houston. The terrain primarily consists of flat pine forests, clear sandy creeks, and muddy bayous.

I am planning on using this as a prep and shakedown for my 2020 Appalachian Trail segment hikes. This will be by far the longest continuous hike I have ever been on. I hope to learn a lot about my gear and about how I handle quiet, no distractions trip over a week.

Lone Star Hiking Map which is 96 Miles Of Texas Heat
Lone Star Hiking Map - 96 Miles Of Texas Heat

Lone Star Hiking Trail History

The LSHT was conceived by the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club in 1966. The U.S. Forest Service then approved construction of the trail and flagging the trail began in 1967, with the first 30 miles constructed in 1968.

The Sierra Club, Boy Scouts of America, and many others were responsible for flagging and construction of the LSHT. The entire LSHT was completed and turned over to the USFS in 1972. An extension to the LSHT was approved later and completed in 1978.

Wikipedia

Who Maintains The Lone Star Hiking Trail?

I found out that in 1995, the Lone Star Hiking Trail Club (LSHTC) was created to educate the public about the trail and provide volunteer support and assistance to maintain it. My next goal is to volunteer to help in the cleanup and maintenance of this trail as it is looking to be my retreat from the hustle and bustle of the urban life.

When Are Good Times To Hike?

If you aren't from around Texas and are looking to come in to hike the amazing trail then you need to look into travelling for spring and fall. They are arguably the best time to visit the trail and to have an enjoyable time.

If you’re doing a loop, an out-and-back, or conquering the entire thru-hike just keep note that in Texas summers are very hot and humid. They ave a tendency to also last much longer than summers in other places. East Texas is known for its unforgiving humidity in the peak of summer.

The other side of the weather, winter, is typically mild in Texas, though in the past 2 years we have had snow and near freezing to freezing multiple times. This is very different from much other cold temperatures as it is frequently paired with the humidity making extremely cold mixes that you must be prepared for!

Spring and fall have an amazing assortment of warm temperatures and vibrant colors, in either magnolia blossoms or berry enclaves.

I have been reading online that a favorite place for many who visit and experience the trail love the Magnolia Section. This is typically due to the people hiking in the spring where trees are in full bloom. 

Good Quality Parking Options

There are many entry points to the LSHT, allowing for access all throughout Sam Houston National Forest, between Richards and Cleveland, Texas. The hiking club has put together a comprehensive guide to the trail, section by section, including the length of each section and simple and topography maps for each. Here is a trail head parking map also! Nice detailed list instead which shows all the parking with geo points.

Here Is a map providing the entry and parking points which I found online and it has been invaluable in understanding and preparing for my trek!

How Many Section Hikes Options Exist?

There is a grand total of 11 sections which make up the current Lone Star Hiking Trail. They have a few differing lengths and overall appearance which make each interesting to take even if not planning to thru-hike the entire trail in a single try.

Some ambitious hikers have done the entirety of the LSHT in as little as four days. I suggest you determine your own pace and take in the scenery while also keeping focus on the weather, water resources, and the trail conditions.

If you’ve never done a multi-day trek, the LSHT is great for beginners, as its trails are well-marked and easy to follow.

Figure out what kind of hike or experience you are wanting through the maps and items available as there is something to suit almost any type of interest.

Section 1 - Little Lake Creek Wilderness

The start of the thru-hike attempt is here at the main entrance to the trail. This first section is called "The Wilderness" by lots of people online and from what I can see it lives up to this name as many see all kinds of animals on this section.

  • Section Miles: 0 - 8.7

Section 2 - Kelly / Caney Creek

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 8.7 - 15.8

Section 3 - Stubblefield

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 15.8 - 28.7

Section 4 - Huntsville

Primitive Campground In The Lone Star Hiking Trail
Primitive Campground In The Lone Star Hiking Trail

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 28.7 - 35.0

Section 5 - Phelps

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 35.0 - 45.0

Section 6 - Four Notch

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 45.0 - 54.2

Section 7 - Big Woods

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 54.2 - 65.0

Section 8 - Magnolia

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 65.0 - 73.8

Section 9 - Big Creek / Double Lake

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 73.8 - 82.5

Section 10 - Tarkington

Plan to fill in with good pictures and better details during and after my thru-hike coming up soon!

  • Section Miles: 82.5 - 90.9

Section 11 - Winters Bayou

Bayous are always interesting and even though it is short.

  • Section Miles: 90.9 - 96.5

Books On The Lone Star Hiking Trail

I'm a big reader and researcher of trips when I make the decision to thru-hike and I started to look and see if there was any quality books available to read. I found only a few that looked like good quality readers that would give me more details than YouTube.

My first purchase was from Karen Somers, she was the one to actually measure travel and prepare the first guide to the TSHT, check out The Official Guide on Amazon, it is definitely worth the read!

If you prefer plan and go style documents in learning and preparation then the guide I got and loved was this on from Kevin Muschter. The book in a clear and concise manner, describes the highlights and unique characteristics of the LSHT. While it also provides all the essential planning information to save you time and effort with your own preparations.

Summary

I can't wait until next month and I will definitely post and update everyone on my progress. This is a gear shakedown and rough run using items from my best budget gear for ultralight backpacking that I assembled recently.

I would be interested how many of you live in the area and would love to meet up. Leave me a comment below and let me know why you like the LSHT.

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