The Angelina National Forest in East Texas surrounds the Sam Rayburn Reservoir and runs along the Angelina and Neches River, encompassing some 153,000 acres. Located Southeast of Nacogdoches, the forest offers visitors a chance to explore among the tall pines of East Texas with historic hikes, fishing, camping and water activities on the lake and river.
While most of East Texas longleaf pine forest have been replaced by paper company tree farm pines, there are still stands of longleaf pines, which once covered over 90 million acres in the southeast U.S., and only 3% remain today. Along with pitcher plant bogs, which are homes to carnivorous plants, and named one of the most likely places to encounter Bigfoot, it’s a place where a child’s imagination can run as wild as the rivers that flows through it. I remember countless times in my childhood of refusing to sleep anywhere but nestled between my parents while camping in this forest, which we accessed not by car but by either hiking or by boat. As a National Forest, dispersed camping, or camping without a campsite, is allowed and more common than camping in the park campsites.
From surprisingly well-appointed Bed and Breakfast to the most rural of campgrounds, historic hiking trails and a ghost town, favorite spring-fed swimming holes, fishing holes and golf holes, there’s more to do in the Angelina National Forest than meets the eye.
1. The Sawmill Trail One of the most popular of activities in the Angelina Forest is to hike the 4.5 mile trail to the old 1911 Aldridge Sawmill Historic Site. Once a bustling town of over 70 buildings, all that remains of the Aldridge Ghost Town is now the concrete ruins of the sawmill. It’s a lovely hike along the spring-fed Boykin Creek, with unexpected rises and decents in and through the creek. The trailhead and parking are at the Boykin Springs Recreation Area, about 13 miles from Zavalla. The Texas Forestry Museum in Lufkin is a great place to visit to learn a little more about the old sawmills.
2. Boykin Springs Recreation Area Spend a day playing in this little spring-fed swimming hole with some scenic, small waterfalls! Kids will love searching under rocks in the cool water. The campground and lake were built in 1937 by the CCC. 17 Camping Sites, 3 of which are tent only, is on a first-come basis for both RV and tent sites. It is one of 3 campgrounds in the National Park, the others being Caney Creek and Sandy Creek.
3. La Paz Bed and Breakfast, Jasper Situated on the Angelina River just south of the Sam Rayburn dam, La Paz Bed and Breakfast offers unique options for a weekend in the pines.
4. Artesian Springs Resort, Newton The sandy swim beach and long slide into the spring-fed lake brings locals and tourist to this little RV and camping park, located just south of the Angelina forest.
5. Sam Rayburn Boat Rentals, Broaddus There’s no better way to spend a summer day than out playing on the lake! They offer pontoon boats, and jet skis as well as kayaks and paddleboard rentals, for however you want to play!
6. Kurth Lake, Lufkin A favorite lake for fishing. There is also a lodge available to rent.
7. Banister Wildlife Management Area Hiking and biking location along the shores of Lake Sam Rayburn.
8. Powell Park Aqua Zone Powell Park offers a fun inflatable water park on a sandy beach, with camping. The Aqua Zone is currently closed due to Covid-19, but the swim beach is open.
9. The Stump Restaurant Chicken-fried steak and burgers are the staples of this southern comfort restaurant.
10. The Neches River Rendezvous An annual Spring canoeing event on the Neches River the first weekend in June.
11. Rayburn Country Resort, Broaddus A golfing resort on the shores of Lake Sam Rayburn, with hotel-style lodging and event destination.
12. Sandy Creek Campground, Jasper Located on the South end of the forest on the Steinhagen Reservoir, this park offers camping and day activities.
13. Sam Rayburn Crappie Guide Fishing Spend a day on the lake learning the ins and outs of the best fishing holes.
14. Martin Dies Jr. State Park At the confluence of the Angelina and the Neches River, and South of the National Forest, this state park offers camping, fishing and paddling trails along the rivers.
15. The Army Corp of Engineers operates 5 parks and campgrounds, plus one equestrian park, on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Ebenezer Park has a large, sandy swim area.
16. The Bevilport Paddling Trail on the Angelina River A 9-mile paddling trail down the Angelina River as it flows into the Neches River north of Steinhagen Reservoir and Martin Dies Jr., State Park.
17. Summer Sun Winery Not in the Angelina National Forest, but about 20 miles Southeast don’t miss their homegrown and homemade Blueberry Wine! East Texas grows some of the very best blueberries, so it only makes sense that their wine is so good!
More To Do in Nacogdoches
Keep cool at Splash Kingdom’s Timber Falls Waterpark.
The Azalea Trail is not to be missed in late Spring.
Milliard’s Crossing Historic Village Tour the historic buildings and grounds.
Take a guided horse trail ride at Roselake Ranch.
More To Do in Lufkin
The Ellen Trout Zoo is a small but spectacular zoo, with a fun little train ride.
The Lost Arrow Hike and Bike Trail is a fun mountain bike trail in a city park.
Late Spring and Early Summer you can pick your own blueberries at Grimes Blueberry Farm!
Angelina National Forest
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