This section of Sam Houston National Forest offers some great seclusion not terribly far from Houston. You'll follow and cross a number of creeks (ditches when it's been dry) and pass through both pine and hardwood forests. This loop features part of the Lone Star Hiking Trail and much of it is in/bordering the Little Lake Creek Wilderness. It is well maintained and very clearly marked/signed.
Features: River/Creek — Views
You won't pass any restrooms on this loop.
Parking for this loop is available in a nice parking area that can hold 15-20 cars; look for Lone Star Hiking Trail Trailhead #3. A quick way to get here from Houston is to take I-45 north to FM1375. Drive south one mile on FM149 and keep an eye out for the lot on your right (west).
You'll pick up the Lone Star Hiking Trail behind an information sign on the southern edge of the parking area. The clearly signed trail has metal blazes painted white to help with navigation, but the singletrack trail itself is very easy to follow. The beginning of the trail passes through a mix of pines and hardwood that is relatively open and very flat. Soon you'll come to the first of many creek crossings, or ditches depending on recent weather. This, and the many to come, offer some steep five-ten foot drops that add a bit of variability to the trail. When flowing, crossing these creeks and keeping dry could prove challenging!
After the creek crossing, you'll come to a clearly marked intersection with the North Wilderness Trail
. Stay on the LSHT - Section 1 (Wilderness)
by heading south and crossing a old bridge over a creek tributary. This section of the trail follows the western edge of Pole Creek, with plenty of views. After about a mile, you'll come close to private property and a few unmarked forest roads. Stick on the singletrack and keep following the white blazes. Soon you'll pass Pole Creek Trail
, which follows the creek south. Turn right/west to stay on LSHT - Section 1 (Wilderness)
The next section of the trail is arguably the best, as it enters the Little Lake Creek Wilderness after crossing a wide forest road closed to traffic (NF 231). The forest will open up a little into a swampy area as you approach Little Lake Creek itself. Boardwalks provide dry crossings and interesting views.
You'll come to another clearly marked intersection on the western edge of the wilderness with the Sand Branch Trail
. Continue on the LSHT - Section 1 (Wilderness)
by turning right (north). The next section of the LSHT - Section 1 (Wilderness)
follows the western edge of the Little Lake Creek Wilderness area, but isn't actually in the wilderness. Be mindful of an unmarked trail heading straight west from the LSHT about a third of a mile north, and another unmarked trail heading northwest from LSHT after about 0.75 of a mile. Keep following the white metal blazes. At about mile marker 4 on the LSHT you'll cross Little Lake Creek again (with no bridge/boardwalk) and soon come to a well marked intersection with the North Wilderness Trail
Take the North Wilderness Trail
east back into the Little Lake Creek Wilderness, by following the red blazes painted on metal. This trail is winding and less used than LSHT - Section 1 (Wilderness)
but still in good condition. Parts of the forest here are very dense, so you won't be able to see far off of the trail. This trail crosses three tributaries of Little Lake Creek, none of which have bridges (although the third has a step). You'll cross the NF 231 again, pass a few small ponds, and come back to the intersection with the LSHT - Section 1 (Wilderness)
. Follow it back to the parking area.