By Lone_Star on 3/27/2013
Distance: 12.80 Miles Duration: 5 hours, 40 minutes
This section of the Lone Star Hiking Trail (LSHT) is not for beginners or the faint hearted. If my previous day's hike of the Big Creek/Double Lake Section was "heaven", then this section was "hell".
The trail was poorly maintained and the vegetation was terribly overgrown. As a result, I ate zillions of spider webs for breakfast (low calories, lol) and this trek was less of a hike and more of a jungle expedition.
I know I've been hiking too much when my imagination starts to run wild, but I have to tell you, it seems like each section of the LSHT has it's own personality. Some sections like Big Creek/Double Lake are inviting and beckon you to "Come, explore!"
By contrast, this Magnolia Section (like the Tarkington Bayou Section) was not inviting. It seemed to say (in Clint Eastwood-esque style), "Feeling lucky, punk? Go ahead, make my day!" I ran into fallen trees at waist high level that you could not climb over or go around. Instead, I found myself crawling on the ground with my backpack like a turtle trying to get under the obstacle. And, there were a lot of pests, so use DEET. The river crossing of the East Fork of the San Jacinto River at mile marker 71.1 proved to be uneventful, however. I was prepared to ford, if necessary, but the water level was low, moving very slowly, and there was a fallen log which conveniently let me walk over the river. I was expecting a bigger challenge.
The vegetation is extremely dense in this section. If you put Google Maps in "satellite" map mode and deselect "labels", you can't even see the trail. Go ahead, I dare you, try it! The trees and bushes are so dense that the trail is enshrouded in a tunnel of thick vegetation that doesn't let much sunlight through. Much of it is shaded, which is nice in that it keeps you cool. However, this is not an easy section to do any sightseeing or photography.
I parked at Trailhead #11 off FM 2025 and hiked west. The trail descends down some hills down to the river basin. Beyond the river, the trail runs adjacent to some private property. You'll pass the Magnolia Primitive Campsite and finally out to Trailhead #10 off FM 945. This is where I turned around and hiked back to TH11. There are a number of rolling hills in this section that give you a cardio workout. The signage is good, but I did not see several mile markers. They were either missing or hidden in the vegetation somewhere.
1. Part of this section of the LSHT involves a long road walk up FM 945 to Evergreen, west briefly on Hwy 150, north on FS 202 (aka John Warren Road), and then west briefly on Ira Denson Lane to Trailhead #9, but I didn't hike this. I've done enough road walks in other sections of the LSHT and don't care for them.
2. If the water level in the river is high, there is a detour route available on www.lonestartrail.org. It requires some bushwhacking and compass navigation. Frankly, I am relieved I didn't have to deal with that! :)