Sam Houston National Forest ATV & Off-Road Guide 2022

Sam Houston National Forest ATV: The right path to take you on an off-road adventure is crucial to ensure that you remain safe and have fun. 

It is true that the Sam Houston National Forest has many things to offer all kinds of outdoor lovers. 

Sam Houston National Forest ATV

As a national forest, however, there are rules that you are allowed to and cannot do within the forest and also guidelines to adhere to.

So, are you permitted to take the ATV or dirt bicycle and other equipment in the Sam Houston National Forest trails? This national forest falls under the management system of multi-use.

which is governed by that’s why the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act governs the forest. It is also a designated zone that allows you to use off-road vehicles.

If you are occupying a large area of land is a big deal, so knowing the best places to drive and when to use ATVs or off-road vehicles is crucial. 

Also, you must be aware of the level of security you’ll have within the region, what other activities you could engage in as well as what you must do to know before you are allowed to access the trails. 

We’ll go over all of that and more in order to ensure that you enjoy a safe, convenient enjoyable, and uninterrupted time within Sam Houston Forest.

Sam Houston National Forest

Sam Houston National Forest ATV and Off-Road Trails

The 163,037-acre parcel of land is properly managed so that the public can make the most of it without impacting wildlife, natural resources, and much more. 

The forest is also divided into various categories that allow you to determine what recreational thing you can enjoy within a specific region.

Being an example of one of the four forest national parks within Texas, Sam Houston has numerous trails to be aware of in order to ensure you’re not violating any laws or regulations. 

Be sure to contact the Ranger’s Office before heading to the area to confirm that the area you wish to explore is accessible to the public.

The Trails

85 miles of the forest’s area has been developed into an all-purpose trail that is eco-friendly and safe riding. 

Alongside being designated Sam Houston National Forest ATV trails it’s perfect for biking, horseback riding, and hiking.

Its elevation ranges between 200 and 350 feet, with a few difficult hills, shades, roads, and berms. It also includes a lot of single tracks, some water crossings, as well as hazards that are marked or not.

In terms of components, the trail contains some dust, mud, and rocks, a bit of dust, but mostly pack the soil. If you’re concerned about your ability as a driver or be able to navigate the trails, the majority of it is ideal for intermediate riders, however, certain areas are ideal for beginners.

Below are the various trails you can travel on with an ATV or off-road vehicle.

  • NW-Blue Extension
  • NW-Blue Loop
  • West Green
  • West Orange
  • West Red

Every off-road vehicle trail begins at a place that’s also thought of as the final destination due to its loop-like design. 

There are also directions in red so that you don’t lose track and can navigate restricted areas. There’s also a parking space to make parking easier.

Vehicle Fuel and Water Source

The ATV that is running low on fuel will not be a problem since there are places that sell diesel as well as gasoline. 

A majority of ATVs have lead-acid batteries and require distillation water in order to function and to prevent damages to the engine. 

In this regard, you will find stations that allow you to pump your vehicle’s water levels.

The Rules

Remember that you must comply with specific requirements before you can use your off-road vehicle to trails in the Sam Houston National Forest ATV trails. It is the same for the driver as well as the vehicle.


Only an officially legally registered and legal street off-road vehicle that has the OHV decal within the Sam Houston trails. 

It should also be equipped with an exhaust system or a spark arrestor that produces at least 96 decibels of sound. Additionally, it must be equipped with working headlights and taillights especially if you’ll use it at least half an hour prior to sunrise and at sunset.

You are allowed to ride dirt bikes, motorcycles, UTVs, ATVs, and SXS in the event that they’re not exceeding a width that is 50 inches. 

Anything greater than this will not be allowed to pass through the trail’s entry posts or gate.

Operator or Driver

Every user should carry an all-use trail pass. It is possible to download and print out the non-refundable and non-transferable permit, valid up to 11:59 pm on the day that is printed on it. If you lose your pass, you’ll have to get it replaced and pay additional charges.

Also, you must possess a valid ID, an official driver’s license issued by the state, and evidence of payment. Also, ensure that you wear DOT-approved protection equipment. A jacket or vest in a blaze orange color is also mandatory during hunting season. 

For ATV drivers it is also required to show evidence that you’ve completed an ATV operator’s education course.

In that regard, no matter what you’re driving on, staying on the road is crucial to avoid any unintentional accidents.

Sam Houston National Forest Camping and Hiking

Sam Houston National Forest

No matter if you’re riding the ATV or an off-road vehicle you are welcome to camp and hike around the area. 

Make sure to place your vehicle in the right parking space because you aren’t able to take it to the campground or hiking trails.


If you intend to camp prior to and during your off-road ride There are three well-developed camping spots, including Cagle, Double Lake, and Stubblefield Recreation Areas, that are worth considering. 

You must reserve a spot by either a phone call or email. You can take part in a variety of sports like fishing, boating or hunting, hiking, and bird watching on these websites.


However, If you just want to walk through the forest, it has an established trail. It has a section that was granted the National Recreation Trail status, you can walk all year round along Sam Houston‘s Lone Star Hiking Trail. Even though winter and spring are the most popular season.

Like the off-road trails, hiking trails are marked with markings to can be used as a reference. Also, it is recommended to wear brightly colored attire during the hunting season. 

Additionally, aside from camping at the Sam Houston National Forest camping locations, you may also camp on the trail, with the exception of when hunting seasons are in full swing.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Into Sam Houston National Forest?

The cost to enter the national forest will be contingent on the activities you’d like to take part in. It’s also contingent on the length of time you intend to spend within the forest. 

Below is a table of guidelines for some entry and activity fees you should take notes of prior to making plans for your visit into the woods.

Particulars Fees
Cagle Recreation Area $5
Double Lake Recreation Area $7
Stubblefield Recreation Area $7.50 with a pass; $15 without a pass
Cycling or Walking $1
Vehicle $7/vehicle
Primitive Camping $20
Multi-Use Trail Recreation Pass $5/day or $25/year
Hiking and Forest Exploration Free
Parking Free

The great thing about the trails is that you can find trailhead kiosks that allow you to pay for entrance fees if they’re mandatory.

In addition to the entrance, pass fees for activities in addition to the entry, entrance, and activity fees, you’ll also have to pay for additional services, particularly during camping. In the same way, you will have to pay more when you choose to rent Sam Houston National Forest cabins.

Sam Houston National Forest Safety

No matter if you’re planning to take on an adventure for a day or go outside of town to unwind and enjoy yourself, determining whether you are safe is essential. 

Becoming familiar with Sam Houston National Forest Guides and maps isn’t enough since it will only help you not lose your way. 

Three other important safety aspects that should be considered are the condition of the soil along with wildlife, wildfire, and soil condition as Sam Houston is a forest.

How’s the Soil Condition in Sam Houston?

The forest soil has a slight erosive value particularly close to water bodies. Its composition is comprised of clay shale, sand the clay of sandy clay, and non-calcareous sediments of in the Tertiary or Pleistocene Ages.

You can rest be assured you’re safe. Sam Houston has the best soil conditions when it’s open for public access. The most common time when Sam Houston‘s forest will be closed is when the soil is in an abundance of moisture. It happens following rain or storm.

Are There Bears in Sam Houston National Forest?

Bears are among the species of wildlife that people are most terrified of, which is uncommon in Texas. 

While sightings of bears are beginning to appear more frequent, however, there is no evidence of sightings of bears in Sam Houston as of writing. So, even if don’t live inside Sam Houston National Forest cabins, and instead stay in the vicinity it is secure from bears.

What Wildlife Are Present in the Area?

 Present in the Area

The forest is home to a variety of game animals that can hunt if you are on the correct track. There are deer, squirrels quails, and doves. You can also find fish and ducks around the lakes and streams in the forest.

Other than the animals are hunted for in this forest, it is also home to many of the last extinct species of wildlife, including the red-cockaded woodpecker and bald eagles. 

Other wildlife that inhabits the area includes woodpeckers and white woodpeckers bluebirds, screech owls predatory snakes, as well as honey bees.

How About Fire Safety?

The wildfire can be a natural disaster that is able to be avoided and is often occurs in forests due to the existence of grasses and leafy trees that may catch fire because of the sun’s warmth. This is particularly true in the summer months.

There is an action plan that is cooperative and agreement that is led by both the U.S. Forest Service and the Texas Forest Service. 

It involves the coordination of wildfire prevention, enforcement of the law, aerial detection, and suppression of wildfires. In addition, the National Forest also has a prescribed fire system that is able to stop the accumulation of forest fuel, making it easier to limit the damage from wildfires.

Enjoying Sam Houston National Forest

It’s a good thing that the Sam Houston National Forest is not just well-managed but protected due to the abundance of animals, trees as well as bodies of water, and other natural resources that are found within it. 

In addition, it’s well-maintained and has guidelines they adhere to regarding erosion, landslides, and fire security.

When you examine Sam Houston National Forest trails maps, it’s clear the designated camping areas and hunting, hiking and cycling, off-road rides, and many other activities. 

With all the activities happening in the region it’s essential to be aware of the rules. This is particularly important during hunt season, which is between November and January.

The majority of the crucial ones were covered earlier, and they’re not difficult to follow. 

However, if you’re still lacking safety equipment that is suitable for ATVs, UTV, and SXS riding, all you’d require is a helmet that is DOT-approved (view the helmet on Amazon) and an eye shield. 

In contrast, it’s best to wear appropriate Dirt bike clothing (view at Amazon) along with shoes (view from Amazon) for when you intend to take your dirt bike for a ride.

Can you ride ATVs in Sam Houston National Forest?

Sam Houston National Forest *

Only street-legal vehicles are permitted on the roads. The only motorised trail (for motorcycles and ATVs) can be found on the 85 mile Sam Houston Multiple-Use Trail.

Can you ride dirt bikes at Sam Houston National Forest?

With a wide range of distinctive rides, this multi-use trail in Sam Houston is the only trail accessible to OHVs inside the National Forests in Texas. To encourage the sustainable and safe use of OHVs trails are closed when soil moisture can cause damage to the course.

Do I need a pass for Sam Houston National Forest?

A permit is mandatory for each individual and allows Sam Houston Multi-Use Trails to be used. The names must be entered of each person who rides and an identification number for every vehicle you will park located at the start of your trail.

Are there alligators in Sam Houston National Forest?

Explore the 21 miles of beautiful trails, make sure to check the bird binder and the nature centre, and staying overnight in a shaded shelter or camping site. Be sure to look for alligators as they reside in nature parks (find information on alligator safety here).

Do you have to register an ATV in Texas?

ATV registration is not necessary for Texas. By the terms in HB3849, TxDOT would no be able to register all-terrain cars (ATV) for use off-highway as well as the registration fee as well as the $6 safety fee will no longer be collected.

How much does it cost to go mudding in Houston?

What do you pay for riding in the park? The entry fee is 10 dollars for each Jeep and $20 for riders for children. Children who are 11 or younger pay just $5.

How do you hunt Sam Houston National Forest?

Hunters must have an official hunting license and the correct tag and stamp, and their Annual Public Hunting Permit. Hunters aged 16 and under do not require a hunting permit; however, they need to have a hunting license and be under the supervision of a licensed, authorized adult of at least 18 years old or older.

Can I shoot in Sam Houston National Forest?

Target shooting is banned within the Sam Houston National Forest and the Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands.

Sam Houston National Forest ATV FAQ

1. Can you ride dirt bikes in Sam Houston National Forest?

With a wide range of distinctive ride conditions, multi-use trails located in Sam Houston is the only trail accessible to OHVs within the National Forests in Texas. To encourage the sustainable and safe use of OHVs trails are closed in conditions like soil moisture may cause damage to the trails.

2. Can you ride dirt bikes in National Forests?

A lot of Forest Service roads in National Forests permit dirt bikes to use. Forest Service roads may be open to dirt bikes during specific seasons, and some National Forests may restrict the kinds of activities that the dirt biker is allowed to participate in.

3. Where can I ride my dirt bike in Houston?

The top Houston dirt biking trails based on popularity are said as Sam Houston National Forest – East Side, Mud Buddys Recreation Park Sam Houston National Forest – West Side, Three Palms Extreme Sports Park as well as Sam Houston National Forest – Northwest Side.

4. How much does it cost to go to Sam Houston National Forest?

The admission cost is $5 per day. Cagle offers two trails for hiking.

5. Can you hunt hogs in Sam Houston National Forest?

The answer is yes, the season for hogs is open all year You are able to utilize all legal methods and methods in all NFGT WMAs with the exception of Sam Houston WMA and Caddo WMA. Sam Houston WMA has an archery-only area. There are no firearms allowed in the area.

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