Sam Houston National Forest is not really remote. It is a little over an hour away Houston, half an hour from The Woodlands, and only a few minutes from the town of Montgomery. However, once you set out on the road taking you into the forest, you’ll find yourself feeling further and further away from civilization.
Like many things to do in Texas, not only is admission to the Forest free, there are no permits to obtain or forms to fill out. You simply determine which trail you want to hike or bike, drive into the Forest, park in one of the many free lots, and go. Sam Houston National Forest is comprised of 163, 037 acres and is filled with tall pine trees which covered much of this area before cities like Houston began to develop. When hiking through the forest, you will get a sense of what life might have been like back then. The most popular trail is the 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail, a portion of which has gained National Recreation Trail status.
As you move away from the road, any noise from the occasional car or motorcycle will disappear, leaving the sounds of birds, bugs and sometimes water. I have rarely encountered more than a few people on my hikes. Bring your binoculars, as there is some good bird watching in the area. Many of the hiking trails are fairly easy, but seek out some of the tougher ones if you have older children. My three year old son has no problem with the trails we take. He loves the butterflies, and the many varieties of flowers found in the Forest. He also loves the silence. Sometimes he yells, a long, deafening scream, and then waits for repercussions or an answering shout. No one responds and no one silences him. I wonder if our solitude allows him to feel freedom in a way he doesn’t in most other spaces.
Always bring bug spray, water, and snacks. For longer hikes or if you are unsure of the area, take a compass. Always check weather conditions before visiting the Forest. See Trails.com at http://www.trails.com/activity.aspx?area=15662 for details of specific hikes in the forest. Among the information given is number of miles, terrain and scenic spots. Also see the National Parks information at this link.