Located approximately 40 miles north of Houston , Sam Houston National Forest contains 162,984 acres of short- and long-leafed pine, hardwood forests, and abundant recreational opportunities appealing to visitors, big-city dwellers, and small-town folk. Camping is the main draw here, complemented by daytime activities on Double Lake and Lake Conroe and the 140-mile long Lone Star Hiking Trail.
Sam Houston National Forest contains three developed campgrounds (Cagle, Double Lake, and Stubblefield recreation areas). Cagle Recreation Area is a new campground with 48 camping units offering electricity, water and sewer connections, hot showers, fishing, swimming, and lakeshore hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
Double Lake Recreation Area, constructed in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, surrounds a 24-acre lake and includes family camping units (a tent pad, parking area, picnic table, some with water, sewer, and electrical hook-ups), swimming area and beach, and a concession stand with bathhouse.
Stubblefield Recreation Area has 28 camping units, hot showers, and access to fishing and hiking. Double Lake facilities are available by reservations while Cagle and Stubblefield are available on a first-come, first-served basis only. For reservation information call 877/444-6777 or go to www.recreation.gov .
The Lone Star Hiking Trail contains approximately 140 miles of walkways open to foot traffic only. The trail traverses the entire Sam Houston National Forest through woodlands, swamps, and meadows via five loops to accommodate various starting points and parking for day hikers or overnight backpackers. Trail maps and brochures are available at the park headquarters in New Waverly (contact information following).
Cyclists will enjoy the eight-mile trail on the east side of the forest custom-built by mountain bikers. Though most of the East Texas  forests are devoid of significant slopes, this hilly trek offers terrain-filled passages winding through the pine forests.
The 22,000-acre Lake Conroe is one of the biggest draws to Sam Houston forest, particularly for its swimming, boating, fishing, and sailing. The lake is stocked with bass and bluegill, and boats are available for rent at various marinas along the lakeshore.
For more information about recreational opportunities at the forest, including all-important maps, contact the headquarters, located two miles west of I-45 and New Waverly at 394 FM 1375 (936/344-6205 or 888/361-6908, www.fs.fed.us/r8/texas/recreation/sam_houston/samhouston_gen_info , 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.).