The Sam Houston Restaurant Tour
53 Mi.(85 KM)
% Rideable (time)
Patrick grew up in College Station, Texas and has always had an appreciation for the outdoors. From his time as a boy scout and riding BMX in the 80’s, he sees bikepacking as a natural progression of his childhood. Patrick is also the creator of the Bikes or Death Podcast, and can be found on Instagram @BikesOrDeath.
Located just 50 miles north of Houston, Texas, Sam Houston National Forest is comprised of over 160,000 acres that intermingle with timber land and privately owned farms. Today, the area is a popular hiking destination, and is home to the 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail, primitive camping opportunities, paddling, and hunting.
Texas may not come to mind as an obvious bikepacking destination. Even though it’s the second largest state, offering over 260,000 square miles of rugged, unique terrain, less than 2% of that land is owned by the government, and BLM land makes up very little of that. The Sam Houston Restaurant Tour aims to provide a quick getaway for those in eastern Texas, following a mix of gravel and paved roads linked together by two eateries along the way. It’s an approachable route for beginners and experienced riders alike, and promises a great night under the stars. This particular route explores the northern region of the National Forest, but for those interested in riding further, try heading west towards Kelly’s Pond and Little Lake Creek Wilderness for more great gravel options.
Route Development: The Sam Houston Restaurant Tour was planned and led by contributor Patrick Farnsworth, a College Station local, who’s explored nearby gravel options extensively. Patrick hopes this route can act as a great introductory route for those residing in Texas, who might not know where to start. Photos and written content by Miles Arbour, who joined Patrick and Keri for the ride.
- Bullet Grill House and Taqueria Carmelita will provide all of the sustenance you need along the way.
- Sam Houston National Forest offers plenty of shade due to the dense tree cover, and has the potential to offer cooler conditions to escape some of the mid-summer heat.
- Texas’ public lands. A unique mix of wilderness, dirt roads, and private ranches.
- Hunting is permitted within the National Forest. Stay on designated roads and trails and wear blaze orange during hunting season. Go to the TPWD website for the most up-to-date info available.
- Summer is hot in Texas. It’s not uncommon to see temperatures well into the 100°s. The route is ideal for riding during the spring or fall; but is rideable all year long.
- If exploring beyond the route at Kelly’s Pond, a $5 per person / per day permit is required for trail use. There is no fee for the campsite, and reservations aren’t accepted. More info.
- Pack bug spray as the mosquitos can get bad.
- Dispersed camping is permitted within Sam Houston National Forest, no permits or passes needed.
- Four Notch Hunter Camp, just past mile 43, and Big Wood Hunter Camp at mile 0, are pinned on the route map. There are several other camping options just off the route. Go find them!
- We camped at a ‘secret lake’ just off the route which is not marked on the map. Those with extra time will benefit greatly from exploring a bit.
- The restaurants on route are worth checking out. Otherwise, there are resupply options in the town of Point Blank.
- Natural water sources are available at some dispersed camping within the forest. Bring a water purification device.
- No water spigots or potable water in wilderness areas.