Lone Star Hiking Trail Club gathering input on Sam Houston National Forest trails for master plan

The Sam Houston Trails Coalition advocates for the needs of the Sam Houston National Forest. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
The Sam Houston Trails Coalition advocates for the needs of the Sam Houston National Forest. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

The Sam Houston Trails Coalition advocates for the needs of the Sam Houston National Forest. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

The Lone Star Hiking Trail Club has been tasked by the Sam Houston Trails Coalition to lead a master plan update for the trail system in the Sam Houston National Forest, located north of Conroe and Montgomery. There are three remaining public meetings for community members to weigh in on trail system improvements and ideas, said Karl Van Scyoc, the president of the Lone Star Hiking Trail Club, a volunteer group.

According to Van Scyoc, the Lone Star Hiking Trail system includes approximately 128 miles of hiker-only trails in the national forest, which spans Montgomery, Walker and San Jacinto counties. The system of trails is 50 years old and originally a joint project of the Sierra Club and the U.S. Forest Service, he said.

Upcoming meetings are scheduled for Jan. 8 in Conroe from 1:30-4 p.m., Jan. 10 from 6:30-9 p.m. in a virtual format and Jan. 13 in The Woodlands from 5:30-8 p.m. Interested stakeholders can contact [email protected] to register for the meetings; attendance is limited.

"We're just trying to get as many different stakeholders providing input that will shape this plan for the next 20, 25 years," Van Scyoc said.

After the public meetings wrap up, Van Scyoc said an advisory team that includes members of the U.S. Forest Service will narrow down ideas and begin drafting the plan to approved by the forest service. The last master plan was a 10-year plan drafted in 2012, he said. Each master plan serves as a road map for the future of the trail system, he said.


Van Scyoc said input received in the first three meetings held in the fall relate to managing trail use, improving access for hikers, providing more amenities, better serving hikers with disabilities, adding trails and preserving the environment.

"We're trying to figure out how best to adapt the trail system for population growth," he said. "A lot of the input has been about how we manage trail overuse, how we deal with potential security issues on the trail. ... We're expecting a lot more families, so some of the input has been around installing things like pit toilets at the trailhead [that] we don't have today."
By Anna Lotz

Editor, Tomball/Magnolia & Conroe/Montgomery

Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor for the Tomball/Magnolia edition. She began covering the communities of Conroe and Montgomery as well in 2020. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.