It’s taken me the better part of a year and a recent death in the family to prioritize doing a thru-hike of the Lone Star Hiking Trail, a continuous footpath of 96.4 miles just outside of Houston, TX.
Taking part in the grieving process and sharing the burden of tragedy with others is helpful for a time, but long-distance hiking always finds a special way to cradle my heart when I need it. Similar to meditation, hiking day-in-and-day out helps me untie all my “thought knots” that I usually can’t focus on long enough to work through without the distractions of daily life creeping in.
So, I packed my gear and set off into the Texas backcountry.
The LSHT is located just west of Houston, TX and is commonly hiked east to west. Being in Texas, the best season to plan a thru-hike is January to March. Thankfully, the majority of the trail is shaded and flat, but it is still Texas and the temperatures easily rise above 100 degrees F in the summer months.
I used a free online guidebook created by Don Brewington of the Lone Star Hiking Trail Club and found it to be very accurate. Be sure to check their website (lonestartrail.org) for information about using designated campsites during hunting season, and information about reroutes or controlled burns on certain segments.
I recommend taking a week to tackle this trail, and the majority of other thru-hikers I encountered had left water caches at one of the 15 easily accessible trailheads found on the LSHT.
Aspiring thru-hikers can coordinate a shuttle by using any of the recommended drivers on the LSHT Club website or posting on the LSHT Facebook group. (I found a lovely woman using this method that was available on short notice and accepted donations only).
Despite it being Spring Break, having recent rains that boded well for water availability, and pristine weather, I only saw a small handful of other hikers on my trek and not a soul for the last 50 miles (as the 1,000+ cobwebs I knocked down constantly reminded me).
I went through several freshly burned areas of forest and was thankful that I had my N95 mask to manage the smoke that was still in the air. Though flat, the Texas wilderness is made up of several incredibly diverse and rich forest ecosystems. I got to experience the start of wildflower season, an annual blooming that left me open-mouthed and awe-struck.
I hope you enjoy my photos of the LSHT! See you on the trail!
Katie got bit by the thru-hiking bug in 2019 after completing a thru-hike of the AT. She met her partner at the NY/NJ border and rescued her husky, Thru, while on trail in VA. Since she has hiked the CT and LSHT and hopes to complete the Long Trail in 2021 and hit 10,000 miles by 25.