Stretching over 150,000 acres an hour outside of Houston, Sam Houston National Forest is a popular weekend retreat with excellent fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. Over 100 miles of multi-use trails cut through the forest, and can be used for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and ATVing. Most of the forest is open to hunting as well, with a range of big and small game species like deer.
You’ll also find a number of lakes in the forest that are perfect for fishing and boating. Lake Conroe is the largest body of water in the area, with multiple recreation areas located along the shore. The lake has excellent channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, and white bass fishing. Lake Livingston is another popular area for boating and water sports. The Lone Star Hiking Trail is a popular hiking trail that goes through the Big Creek Scenic Area.
There are three main RV campgrounds in the forest, all of which have quick access to the water. You’ll be able to fish and boat, as well as connect to the network of hiking and mountain biking trails in the area.
Located just an hour outside of Houston, Sam Houston National Forest is a popular weekend retreat that is easy to access by RV. Most of the main campgrounds in the area can handle large rigs, so you should have few issues with tight turns or narrow roads.
Driving from Houston, take I-69 out of the city, and you’ll get to the forest in around 45 minutes. From Austin, take US-290 to TX-105, and you’ll reach the forest in around two and a half hours. If you are coming from Dallas, take I-45 south out of the city, and you’ll arrive in just under three hours.
Most of the main RV campgrounds are located in the area around Lake Conroe, which is just a few minutes drive from I-45. Most of the major recreational areas of the forest are easy to reach by car or RV. There are a few dirt forest service roads as you travel deeper into the forest, but these can largely be avoided if you have a large rig.
This modern campground has 48 sites near the shores of Lake Conroe. The sites feature electrical, water, and sewer hookups. You’ll have access to drinking water, as well as restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers. Situated on two loops near Lake Conroe, fishing and boating are the main draws to the area. Largemouth bass and channel catfish are popular catches in the lake, and you can also use the boat ramp to relax out on the water. All of the sites can be reserved online, and must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.
This campground, tucked along the shores of scenic Double Lake, has 65 RV sites. Most of the sites have water and electrical hookups, with some also having access to sewer hookups. Each site offers a fire pit, picnic table, and lantern post. There are restrooms with flush toilets, as well as drinking water stations. In addition to fishing and boating, you’ll also be able to access a 21-mile mountain biking trail. All of the sites can be reserved in advance online. Sites will up quickly starting in spring, so book as early as possible to get a site.
This campground is located on a small lake that feeds off Lake Conroe. None of the 26 sites have hookups of any kind, although they all have picnic tables and fire pits. Drinking water is available, as well as modern restrooms with flush toilets and showers. With great shade, quick access to boating and fishing, and miles of hiking trails, it’s a great option for adventurous RV campers who want a bit more privacy. RVs up to 28 feet long are permitted.
All of the sites are first-come, first-served. Although you’ll usually find a spot, the campground does fill up quickly starting in spring and running through early fall, especially on weekends.
With over 100 miles of trails, Sam Houston National Forest is a popular destination for hikers. The trails cuts across a number of creeks and streams, where you’ll find a wide variety of wildlife. You can also connect to the Lone Star Hiking Trail, which stretches more than 120 miles. The trail crosses a number of creeks and also leads along an old railroad track. Hiking is excellent throughout the year, although at its best during the spring and fall, when temperatures are much more manageable.
Anglers will find an abundance of fishing opportunities throughout Sam Houston National Forest. Lake Conroe, located just 45 minutes from Houston, is known for its channel catfish, largemouth bass, and white bass. There is a fishing pier and a boat launch near Cagle Recreation Area. You can also fish from Scott’s Ridge, on the other side of the lake. If you want more privacy as you fish, head to Stubblefield Lake Recreation Area, which is at the northern tip of Lake Conroe.
Sam Houston National Forest is a great destination to relax out on the water. Lake Conroe, the heart of the forest, has a number of recreation areas with boat launches. You can enjoy the lake by water or jet skiing, or relax with long canoe and kayak rides along the cool shoreline.
Boat rentals are limited at the recreation areas, so you should consider bringing your own vessel along with your rig. The boat launches are free to use if you’re staying at one of the RV campgrounds in the forest.
Mountain bikers will also find a number of trails to keep them busy in the forest. The main mountain biking trails in the area lead out from Double Lake Recreation Area, circling around the lake and the surrounding forest. You can also access most of the Sam Houston Trails on bike. The trails stretch over more than 85 miles, offering terrain types to suit riders of all experience levels. There are no bike rentals from the main RV campgrounds in the forest, so bring everything you need along with your rig.
Most of the forest is open to hunting, giving you access to a number of big and small game species. Deer are the most commonly hunted game in the area, and you’ll find a range of waterfowl as well. You’ll need a valid Texas hunting license if you plan on hunting anywhere within the forest. Hunting is not allowed near any of the campgrounds or within 150 yards of the Sam Houston Trails.
Sam Houston National Forest is home to a wide variety of bird species, making it one of the best weekend retreats in the are for birdwatching. Highlights include broad-winged hawks, northern parulas, chuck-will’s willows, Acadian flycatchers, and bald eagles. You’ll also spot a variety of waterfowl throughout the year. You can also find a number of field guides and bird checklists produced by local audubon societies, if you’re curious about learning more about the species in the area.