Martin Dies, Jr. State Park

6.00 Miles
2point5stars (2.92)6
1star (1.33)
2point5stars (2.92)
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Magnolia, hickory, maple, and pine
Magnolia, hickory, maple, and pine (Photo by plectrudis)
Baldcypress swamp
Baldcypress swamp (Photo by plectrudis)
boardwalk over the swamp
boardwalk over the swamp (Photo by plectrudis)
View Of The Forest Trail
This is one of the views of the Forest Trail. (Photo by Lone_Star)
View Of The Slough Trail
This is one of the views of the Slough Trail. (Photo by Lone_Star)
The trail takes you across the slough. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Slough Trailhead
This is the trailhead to the Slough Trail. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Forest Trailhead
This is the trailhead to the Forest Trail next to the Park HQs. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Entrance Sign
This is the sign to the Hen House Ridge section of the park. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Good Signage
These signs point the way to the Shelter Trail and Island Nature Trail. (Photo by Lone_Star)
View From The Trail
The trail provides interesting views of the B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir slough. (Photo by Lone_Star)
B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir
The trail takes you across a wood bridge that provides great views of the B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir. (Photo by Lone_Star)

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Log Entries
Beautiful park on the swamp
By plectrudis on 10/28/2017
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: N/A

Hiked the Wildlife Trail and pootled around the Wlnut Slough area of the northern part of the park.

The trail was mostly level, with a couple of nice bridges/boardwalks over the lake.  There were a few roots but it was generally pretty easy footing.  The bright, brisk October weather was gorgeous, most of the trail was shaded, and we saw lots of neat plants, from wild southern Magnolias to American beeches and black walnuts.

Will definitely return to do more hiking.  There are also extensive paddling trails, so would love to come back with a kayak.

Wildlife, Island & Shelter Trails
By Lone_Star on 6/4/2013
Rating: 1point5stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 2.70 Miles Duration: 56 minutes

Martin Dies, Jr State Park is an unusual park in that it has two sections (Hen House Ridge Unit and Walnut Ridge Unit) that are separated by Hwy 190.

Since I have separate track files for each section, I will log them separately.  This log covers the trails in the Walnut Ridge Unit (i.e., the Wildlife Trail, the Island Trail and the Shelter Trail).  For the rest of the Martin Dies, Jr. State Park trails, you can read my other log of the Walnut Ridge section here.

I started my hike on the Wildlife Trail.  Unfortunately, the only wildlife I encountered were flies, gnats and mosquitos.  Lots of them.  I recommend you liberally apply DEET on your clothes and skin before you hit the trail.  I did not and ended up dodging and swatting the whole way.

The Island Trail was nicer.  There are a couple of long wooden foot bridges that give you a spectacular view of the B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir and the many birds that live and feed there.

The Shelter Trail is a short cut off that leads to the Shelter Area.  'Nuff said.

By ismofoog on 5/14/2011
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: N/A

Martin Dies Jr. State Park occupies a series of peninsulas and islands near the Eastern shore of teh B.A. Steinhagen reservior about 11 miles from Jasper Tx. on US Highway 190. The park is divided into two main sections, Walnout Ridge Unit, on the North side of the highway, and Hen House Unit, on the South side. Cherokee Unit, a third section, consisting only of a small picnic area lies on the other side of the lake. The two main sections each have several short trails adding up to a total of about 5 1/2 miles of hiking and biking trail in the park as a whole.

Upon entering either side of the park one will pass at least one trailhead on the entrance road but there is no designated parking at any of them so it is best to continue and start from locations farther inside the park. In the Walnut Ridge Unit the best place to park for access to the trail is in the unpaved parking area next to campsite 104. In the Hen House Unit park at the headquarters and start hiking from there.

Walnut Ridge has two trails of consequence, the Island Trail, .8 miles in lenght, and the Wildlife Trail, 1.5 miles, both are easy walks on level ground composed of packed sandy loam, the trails are easy enough that one might even consider taking a stroller or wheelchair on it if their has not been much rain. Two wooden bridges, the longer and taller of which affords a picturesque view of the lake, connect the Island Trail to the mainland. Across the bridge lies a looping path around the perimeter of a small island from whence it gets its name. The path is good but is totally enclosed by thick undergrowth on both sides and shaded overhead by pines, oaks, yaupon holly, sweet gum, and other trees, imparting the feeling of walking through a jungle. To the shoreward side one can see glimpses of the lake, so shallow at this point that thickets of cypress trees dot its surface, giving the impression of a flooded forest rather than a lake. Benches are placed at strategic locations for partaking of the view and here hikers can look out upon the cypress trees and pond lillies that are so prevelent here.

If one wishes to keep going after completing the island loop then a bridge leads to the Wildlife Trail on the mainland. Despite the name the only wildlife to be seen were insects, though auditory evidence of wildlife, in the form of a chorus of bird song was ever present. Here the trail was wider, the woods much more open, and populated largely with pine, but with all the other types mentioned represented as well, plus several examples of a thorn tree coloquially known as a "Devil's walking stick" and some of the biggest Magnolias I have ever seen, one of which was nearly four feet in diameter at chest height and a good 60 feet tall. The Wildlife trail terminates at the entrance road and one must walk along the pavement for approximately an half mile or else retrace one's steps to get back to the parking area.


Across the higway, at the Hen House Unit I was not able to hike the Forest Trail, the shorter of its two, due to lack of time, but I was able to walk the Slough Trail, 2.2 miles in length, with about a third of that following the park entrance road. To get to the slough trail walk in either direction from the park headquarters about an half mile to one of the trailheads. Much of this trail leads through piney woods, similar in character to those of the Wildlife Trail described earlier, the major difference being that here one may see at various places along the way, great gashes in the forest where the trees have been clear cut for one reason or another. Near the North end of this trail one will find a series of wooden bridges through a swamp, the prettiest scenery in the entire park and worth walking the rest of the trail to see, even if this sight is only visble for a stretch of a few hundred yards. The effect is spoiled somewhat though by it's proximity to the highway, as the noise of cars and trucks is very intrusive at this point.

By beckyhusband on 12/18/2010
Rating: 3point5stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 1.00 Mile Duration: N/A

well maintained beautiful spanish moss in trees spotted an armadillo

Hiked through campsite area and western trail
By TrailShoe on 5/28/2006
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 4.00 Miles Duration: N/A
The Hen House Ridge Unit is open after much of Hurricane Rita damaged was cleared. Trails on West side of Park Road 48 are open, however East side trails are still being cleared. Lake is currently drained to kill invasive weeds so don't plan to bring a boat to this lake until this process is complete. Great camping areas with potable water very available. Nice grassy areas for setting up tents etc. They also have RV sites and Cabins available. You can locate number to call on web if you need more info
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