A long unforgiving slog through mud.

My son and I went in mid-November, so your experience will vary depending on time of year.

The LSHT is the longest hiking trail in the state. It is broken up into sections. We started at Section 1, which is the easternmost portion, hiking east-west. Each section has a trailhead with a parking lot. We hiked all of Section 1 and half of Section 2. Each of the 2 sections was about 8 miles long. The length of the LSHT is about 130 miles.

Zero amenities. No restrooms. No electricity. No cell coverage. Nada. The LSHT is in the Sam Houston National Forest, about an hour north of Houston. So it’s not a "campground," per se, but you can camp anywhere that’s feasible. We just didn’t find very many feasible places to camp. There is a lot of dense undergrowth along the trail portion we hiked. And mud. Lots and lots of mud. It had been raining a lot in the preceding weeks. I’d call the ranger office and ask about trail conditions and what the weather's been like if I were you. I hope you have a good pair of waterproof boots.

We found a decent spot about 4 miles in, set up our hammocks, and had a good night's rest. The first day's hike was great - plenty of sunshine, cool but not cold, few mosquitoes. It got cold within a couple hours after sunset. I’m glad I brought my underquilt, sleeping bag, and blanket. I’m also glad I brought an extra pair of warm socks, flannel pajama bottoms, and a sock cap. My hiking clothes were soaked with sweat, so changing out of them was essential for a good night's sleep. Well, I don’t actually sleep on these trips. I doze off and on. Anyway, there were no big surprises during the night. The sound of insects. Leaves and branches falling. Coyotes howling in the distance. But nothing scary or annoying. It was very pleasant.

The original plan was to hike both sections, so we parked my son's pickup at Trailhead 6 and drove back to Trailhead 1 to park my Jeep and start the hike. The plan was solid as long as we started early in the day and could average 2 miles an hour. But we wound up starting out late in the day and did I mention the mud? There was a lot of mud. And obstacles to cross. And creeks to cross. And mud. And more mud. Lots and lots of mud. So we were only able to do 4 miles before we had to find a place to camp. Otherwise, we'd be hiking in the dark.

So the morning of day 2, we packed our gear and trudged on as quickly as we could. We had about 12 miles to cover. It seemed doable at the time. But the weather changed. It got considerably cooler and overcast and rainy. It wasn’t constant, and it was never a downpour. But it was 50s and damp. Drizzly. We trudged on for about another 8 miles and decided to leave the trail at Trailhead 4 and hit the pavement, for fear that we'd again run out of daylight somewhere between Trailheads 4 and 6.

My advice? Do your homework. Read up in the LSHT. Peruse the website http://lonestartrail.org and buy the book. Prepare for a long slog through mud. I’m glad I took a hammock because there weren’t many places suitable for tent camping. Take plenty of water and a water purifier because there is no potable water available on the sections we hiked. Two people in 2 separate vehicles is a must unless you’re a thru-hiker or just want to hike a bit and hike back to your car. It’s mostly flat with no steep ups and downs, rock climbing, or anything like that. But there were quite a few creek crossings that required going down into a gully and up the other side. I did mention the mud, right?

Very Low Lake Levels Made It an Endurance Test
  1. There is no "lake" at this time. It is more like a narrow stream that winds through a valley. At 17% capacity when I visited in June 2018.
  2. There are drive-up campsites with electrical and water hookup, but apparently water had not flowed through the pipes going to my campsite in a very long time. When I opened the water valve, a flood of ants preceded a brown geyser of dirty water. I closed the valve and never opened it again during my overnight visit.
  3. There are primitive sites that overlook the "lake," but in the absence of water the view is surreal. It's actually a young forest trying to establish itself.
  4. You can get a burger and fries for lunch or bacon and eggs for breakfast at the Concho RV office. The staff are very friendly and helpful.
  5. Black ants rule the park. Plan accordingly.
  6. The Concho RV park has restroom/shower facilities that are free to use. The toilets flush, there is hot AND cold running water, and there was plenty of TP available. I had to hang the mirror on the wall myself.
  7. I found only 1 campsite suitable for hanging a hammock.
Great place for camping and fishing
  1. Take plenty of water, Insect repellent, and sunscreen with you if you decided to bike the Nopales Ridge Trail in the middle of June. Note that there are several areas along the trail where you may need to carry your bike.
  2. There are air conditioned cabins available, many with lakeviews.
  3. There are at least two floating piers (with lights!) and one wooden fishing pier (with lights!).
  4. The park has many trees and is beautifully maintained.
  5. The public facilities (restrooms, showers, picnic areas) were clean and usable. Toilets flushed, TP was available, there was cold AND hot water, overhead lights worked, mirrors above sinks were usable
  6. It is well worth the time to visit the beautiful and elegant CCC Lodge.
  7. Black ants rule the park. Plan accordingly.
CBSP is a great park with a lot to offer, but there are few amenities
  1. It is a long drive from the gate to the office/campground/riverfront area. So don't panic when it seems like you've been driving forever since the gate and start worrying about somehow getting onto the wrong road and being completely lost.
  2. This is a a very popular park, especially on warm weekends, and the office is rather small. So get there as early in the day as you can to avoid crowds. I think the limit is 10 people at a time in the office, so you may have to wait outside a bit. But don't worry. There's plenty of shade around the office. Ice was $4.00 a bag there, too. I didn't spend much time in the office, and didn't really pay much attention. Just in and out.
  3. No water or electrical hookups.
  4. Compost toilets.
  5. No sex-segregated wash/shower facilities. There were two community faucets and one community showerhead out in the open.
  6. Multiple trail types, from completely shaded and mostly flat along the river to mostly out in the open in rugged terrain. Trails very well maintained with very little trash evident.
  7. Some areas in the park are prone to flooding, so pay attention to weather reports. Don't get caught in the wrong place in a rainstorm.
  8. Forget about cell service. Curiously enough, I had WiFi because my RV spot was closest to the office. But neither my son nor I had cell service for some miles before arriving at the office area.
Saltwater Campground

Many of the campsites are right on the water, which is the Arroyo Colorado, a canal that runs east-west to the Laguna Madre, the bay between the south Texas shoreline and South Padre Island. I've visited the park many, many times over the years because of its proximity to the Laguna Madre. I fish from a kayak, and have tried fishing South Padre Island, Port Mansfield, and Boca Chica Beach with some success. But I always go back to Adolph Thomae County Park because I have better luck there. I don't have to worry about leaving my vehicle unattended, either.

What else? There is a website - http://www.cameroncountyparks.com/adolph-thomae-park - that has all the info you need if you plan to visit. There are even a few pictures. But if you want to get a much better look at the park, download and load Google Earth and type 'Adolph Thomae County Park' in the search bar. For some reason, the locator map on thedyrt is way off. The latitude for the park is  26°20'42.65"N and the longitude is  97°24'50.43"W. I've tried editing the location to no avail.

If you use Google Earth, you'll see that there are 2 lighted fishing piers that are free to park visitors. There are also 3 public restrooms - one at each of the piers and a third between the two large parking lots at the end of the road. There are also two boat ramps at the end of the park road.

It's 3 miles from the park to the Laguna Madre, so if you're bringing a kayak be prepared to paddle for about 45 minutes before getting to the bay. The park opens at 6:00 AM, and the fishermen with motorboats start lining up about 5:45 AM. If you want a parking spot near the water, get there early. I've found that the best parking lot to use is the next-to-last. The water is just a few steps from the parking lot, and the grade down to the water is not that steep. There are no streetlights in the next-to-last parking lot - at least not yet - , so bring a headlamp. It's a relatively new parking lot, so lights may be installed at some point.

Beautiful and well-maintained

This is a very popular park, so get there early if you want to get in. Do not attempt walking to the top of Enchanted Rock at night. It’s easy to get lost and you will probably fall and hurt yourself.

Hot, dusty, and challenging

If you visit during the summer and plan to hike to the primitive campground, take plenty of water because there is no fresh water source nearby.