By Lone_Star on 3/18/2013
Distance: 16.80 Miles Duration: 6 hours, 40 minutes
I hiked the Tarkington Bayou Section of the Lone Star Hiking Trail (LSHT) and, although I love the LSHT overall, I wasn't overly impressed with this part of it. Most of the trail is flat along the low lying Tarkington Bayou with gradual hills at each end of the trail. Signage is good and distance markers are visible every mile.
I parked at Trailhead #14 along FM 2025. My plan was to hike to Trailhead #13 along FM 2666, switch from my daypack to my larger backpack and hike back to the Primitive Camping Area in between mile markers 83 and 84, male camp and spend the night there, then hike back the next day. Therefore, I had cached my larger backpack that had all my camping gear in some bushes near TH13. However, as I embarked on my hike, I found this section of the LSHT unappealing for several reasons.
First, the trail was overgrown in several places, which allowed spiders to set up webs across the trail. I respect the fact that they're trying to catch their next meal - I just don't want it to be me! So, I became preoccupied with using my hiking stick to knock them down so I didn't run into them. However, waving my stick up and down in front of me for miles took me out of the hiking experience. I also had to keep stopping to knock off stowaways that decided to take a hike on me!
Second, the bayou was disappointing as it was 95% dry. I was expecting to see something more like the Winters Bayou, but it wasn't even close. As a result, it wasn't very scenic seeing miles of dry creek bed. If you're hiking this section and depending on the bayou as a potential water source, have a backup plan. There are some small ponds along the way, but they are off trail and somewhat obscured from plain view. In other words, you have to go bushwhacking for short distances to find them. I found them by listening to the birds sing and looking for more lush vegetation.
Third, for the 5% of the bayou that did have water here and there, the water was stagnant. These were breeding pools for mosquitos. Since the trail follows the bayou, I spent a lot of time trying to keep them off me.
Finally, it was hot and humid. Although I did this hike in the Spring, the temperature got up to 88 degrees.
So, all things considered, rather than spend the night, I decided to hike back making it a long (16.8 miles) hike. Pretty brutal.
On the upside, there are some nice, tall southern magnolia trees along the trail. Also, not nearly as many fallen trees in this section, but there were a few. I also had the entire trail to myself as I did not encounter anyone else.