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The Lone Star Hiking Trail: 96 Miles (Plus) of Pure Texas Pleasure

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Situated in the Sam Houston National Forest is the longest continuous hiking trail in the state of Texas! The Lone Star Hiking Trail (LSHT) is a 96-mile-long trail with an additional 32 miles of loop and crossover trails. Starting just south of Richards, TX, the trail ends North-West of Cleveland, TX, with no shortage of wilderness to explore or challenges for an avid hiker.

Conceived by the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club in 1966, the LSHT was approved for construction by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in 1967. The first 30 miles were completed in 1968, with the Sierra Club, Boy Scouts of America, and a number of others responsible for flagging and construction. The entire trail was completed and handed over to the USFS in 1972, with an extension approved and completed in 1978.

Sam Houston National Forest

The Lone Star Hiking Trail: Ninety-Six Miles (Plus) of Pure Texas Pleasure

Photo: Facebook/Jennifer Broome

Although Texas does not have such iconic hiking routes as the Appalachian Trail, a hike of this magnitude is considered the only long-distance National Recreation Trail in the entire state. It winds through Sam Houston National Forest, approximately one hour north of Houston, providing hikers with East Texas terrain opportunities, including beautiful magnolia trees, dense pine forests, and portions along Lake Conroe. It also includes relatively flat terrain with magnificent wildflower showings in both spring and fall colors.

The Lone Star Hiking Trail Club

The Lone Star Hiking Trail: Ninety-Six Miles (Plus) of Pure Texas Pleasure

Photo: Facebook/Lone Star Hiking Trail Club

The Lone Star Hiking Trail Club (LSHTC) was developed in 1995 to educate the public as well as open the door for volunteers with respect to the trail. Club members set out on LSHT hiking adventures on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month inviting those who want to come along and participate in the free guided hikes. In an article by Texas Lifestyle Magazine, it was noted that in 2014 alone, the Lone Star Hiking Trail Club “guided 962 hikers over 7,602 miles (an average of 7.9 miles per event) and covered the entire LSHT some 10 times.” If you’re interested in guided hike information, visit the organization’s 2017 schedule for hike details and meeting locations.

Spring and Autumn are Favored Hike Times

The Lone Star Hiking Trail: Ninety-Six Miles (Plus) of Pure Texas Pleasure

Photo: Facebook/Lone Star Hiking Trail Club

With Texas summers being particularly hot and humid, the spring and autumn seasons are likely the best time in which to visit the trail, be it for a loop hike, a double-back, or working towards tackling the entire thru-route. For safety, as well as scenery, spring and autumn hikes bring both reasonable temperatures as well as vibrant Texas colors. With plenty of entry points to the LSHT, The LSHT Club has compiled a comprehensive trail guide including section lengths as well as basic and topography maps.

Hiking the Full 96-Mile Route

The Lone Star Hiking Trail: Ninety-Six Miles (Plus) of Pure Texas Pleasure

Photo: Facebook/Dancing with the Dirt

A favorite among avid hikers, if you’re new to the scene and looking to experience different parts of the Lone Star Hiking Trail, be sure to check out the Magnolia Section, especially in springtime when the trees are fully in bloom. And for those that are keeners and well trained, the entire trail (the 96-mile route only) is estimated to take approximately 10 days, at a moderate pace, with good resources, and in reasonable weather. Camping is permitted year-round and there are designated campsites as well as spots anywhere along the trail, with the exceptions of September through January, when there are restrictions in place. Always check ahead, plan accordingly, and have backup plans if a multi-day hike is your desire. And happy Texas trails!


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