Davy Crockett National Forest
Like to hike? Then the Davy Crockett National Forest’s wild frontier is right up your trail. With more than 160,000 acres of scenic woodlands just west of Lufkin, the Davy Crockett forest has some of the region’s best opportunities for hiking and horseback riding.
Most popular among bipeds is the Four C National Recreation Trail, named after the Central Coal and Coke Company that logged the forest’s stately trees from 1902 to 1920. The 20-mile trail traverses moderate terrain amid lofty pines, swampy bogs, and hardwood forests. Horses and hikers share the woodsy, mossy, and boggy 50-mile Piney Creek Horse Trail.
Visitors are also drawn to the Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area, built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps around a 45-acre lake that was once a log pond and source of water for the Central Coal and Coke Company Sawmill. The area offers camping, a swimming beach and bathhouse, an interpretive trail, showers, boating, and fishing.
Camping is also available along the Four C trail at the Walnut Creek campsite (five tent pads, a shelter, and pit toilet) and at another small campsite, further north on the trail, with two tent pads. Campers comfortable with primitive sites should head to the nearby Neches Bluff Overlook at the north end of the trail, where they can enjoy a panoramic view of pine-hardwood forests in the Neches River bottomlands.
While hiking, be on the lookout for the forest’s abundant wildlife, including deer, turkey, dove, quail, and various waterfowl. The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker also lives in a managed habitat within the forest.
To obtain a map or to learn more about camping and boat accessibility, contact the Davy Crockett National Forest headquarters near Kennard at Route 1, Box 55 FS (936/655-2299, www.fs.fed.us/r8/texas/recreation/davy_crockett/davycrockett_gen_info). The ranger district office is located near Ratcliff on Highway 7 approximately one-quarter mile west of FM 227.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition