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LSHT: How Long to Thru-Hike the Lone Star Hiking Trail

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How long does it take to thru-hike the Lone Star Hiking Trail? This is a question that many people who want to hike the Lone Star Hiking Trail have asked before they start their journey. We will go into detail and show how many days you would need to complete this trail.

For most thru-hikers, you will be able to complete the trail within seven days, for those who have their hiker legs, they may be able to finish in 3-4 days depending on weather conditions and season as it can bog down hard with rainfall as it is mostly flat with little elevation gain.

This trail is near and dear to me as I live in the greater Houston area. It is an easy 2 hour trip to the Sam Houston National Forest to get to the trailheads. Being able to hike this quickly depends on the weather and outside factors like heat and humidity.

How Long Does it Take to Complete the Lone Star Hiking Trail?

For a hiker looking to complete a trail from end to end, understanding the expected timeframe for the entire distance is vital to preparations and a successful trek.

An end-to-end thru-hike comes in at 96 miles if you follow the main trails and avoid doing the loops which supplement but aren’t part of the thru-hike itself. The 96 miles traverses numerous sections and landscapes that are different in nearly every season!

While this may seem shorter than many trails, it hides some severe issues for many hikers due to the outside environmental factors like a lack of water sources and Texas-sized humidity and temperatures.

When is the Right Time to Hike the Lone Star Hiking Trail?

We feature some crazy weather from hurricanes to torrential rainfall, from 30-40 degree nights to 100 degree days. Finding the right time to hike the whole trail is near as important as the length to be successful.

Spring

A hike starting in Spring will have a better chance for good weather for most of the thru-hike and fewer issues that you find in the Summer with a lack of water on the trail.

Spring can lack water in most creeks unless you are traveling after a recent storm; I would suggest caches for water at most trailheads to ensure you have access as you are not always in range of towns nor consistent traffic should you have a crisis.

Summer

For anyone who visits Houston in the Summer, you will frequently encounter 90-100 degree days paired with humidity in the 80s, which means you will pour out moisture during your entire hike.

Any attempted thru-hike in the Summer will require lots of preparation before the hike by setting up water caches at nearly every trailhead to restock your water and camel up before leaving (remember to pick up once done also).

Summers are not friendly in Texas, and the forest will be unique, but the chance for overgrowth will be significant, and this is when the most snakes will be out, so there are many dangers out there.

Fall

Fall introduces another set of different issues to prepare for from hurricanes, epic levels of rainfall (4+ inches in a night is possible). Then it is also hunting season towards winter, which means only using designated primitive sites for safety and orange vests.

This season will require an understanding of the weather and knowing the best placements for camp set up to ensure that you wouldn’t get washed out if one of these downpours happened at night.

Hurricanes can be understood and measured and the expected time to make landfall, but you will want to know and be out prior as the winds can amp up long before the water and the forest is full of deadfall you don’t want to be exposed to.

Winter

Quite possibly, one of the best times to hike in Texas in the Sam Houston Forest will be the winter, though you can expect rainfall and muddy, boggy trails. In the winter, many try this trail as they will experience only the tail end of hurricane season and deer hunting season while also not typically reaching excruciating heat and humidity levels.

What is the Lone Star Hiking Trail Length?

There are two different lengths depending on your wants from a thru-hike. The complete LSHT with all loops comes in at 129 miles in length, and these loops can take you. out to some quality sites and sounds.

To thru-hike, the actual main trail is a 96 miles end-to-end trail with 13 sections and takes you through some of the most awe-inspiring parts of the national forest and provides you a glimpse of the better sides of Texas.

Where Does the Lone Star Hiking Trail Start?

The first trailhead (LSHT Trailhead 1) starts just South of Richards, Texas, and quickly heads deeper into the woods while not leaving the immediate vicinity of the back roads that truckers and others pass through at times.

West side Map

Western TerminusLSHT Trailhead 1

Where Does the Lone Star Hiking Trail End?

The last trailhead (LSHT Trailhead 15) ends just North-West of Cleveland, Texas. This is a great place as you can walk out after the end of the thru-hike and get into town for a wonderful meal in town to recharge.

East side Map 

Eastern Terminus: LSHT Trailhead 15 

Which Direction Should I Hike?

One can hike either East or West on the LSHT but both are fairly even to each other, I would suggest that you drop your car at your endpoint and then get a shuttle, cab, or transportation to the other trailhead to start fresh and complete at your vehicle.

Final Thoughts on the Time Needed to Finish an LSHT Thru-Hike

The Lone Star Hiking Trail is a beautiful trail that can take you through some of the most awe-inspiring parts of Texas.

However, if your goal is to hike the entire trail in one go, it will require roughly five to seven days, along with multiple water caches that are suggested to be placed along the way for water.

Be prepared before heading out on this journey by checking weather forecasts beforehand as well as consider a whole trek food carry to ease your hike due to lack of towns local to the trail.

Resources

Texas native and an expert long-distance hiker, Karen Borski’s The Lone Star Hiking Trail: The Official Guide to the Longest Wilderness Footpath in Texas 2nd edition is a travel-specific guide with everything you’ll need to know about arranging supplies, mileage charts, section maps, designated campsites, and more.

The Lone Star Hiking Trail Facebook Group is a fantastic platform to get answers to any queries you may have regarding your trip and up-to-date trail information (and you could discover a trail angel or two poking about as well).

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David

Saturday 4th of June 2022

I thru hiked the LSHT the week before Thanksgiving on 2021. I consulted the water source index on the LSHT Club's website and was able to source all my water on the trail. They provide a mile by mile guide with water sources so you can compare that info to the current water level index to get an idea of which sources have water. The index can also give you an idea of the mud level on the trail. https://lonestartrail.org/index.html Ticks and mosquitos are a major issue, and another advantage of a late winter hike. Treat your great with permethrin. Don't sweat hunting season. I only saw two hunters on the trail during my thru hike. I just wore a blaze orange cap with my blue backpack. Hiking season does limit your daily mileage flexibilty since you're limited to designated sites and can't hike as far as you may want every day so take that into consideration.

Josh

Saturday 4th of June 2022

Fully agree, hoping to get in the full thru this fall if hurricane season will grant me the luck! Been out on numerous sections and just not had life agree with a full end to end, do you live around the area?