When you think "Forest" do you think "Houston"? It's not my first thought! Believe it or not, you can Explore the Trails at W.G. Jones State Forest located in Conroe it is a reasonably convenient drive just north of Houston. The extensive trail system at WG Jones State Forest is worth exploring whether you run trails like I do, or ride bikes or even horses. With those towering pines, the forest is a nice reprieve from the city and the sun.
Research and Application at the W.G. Jones State Forest
The property is affiliated with the Texas A&M University forestry system and used to determine best practices for trail erosion prevention and park conservation techniques. Markers can be found at various locations along the trails indicating a research site. There is also a ranger station located on the other side of the street from which you find the parking lot. It was closed when we went to Explore the Trails at W.G. Jones State Forest.
What to Expect When You Explore the Trails at W.G. Jones State Forest
|1 low quality||2 average quality||3 best quality||Score|
|cost||expensive, charge per individual||small fee||free||3|
|trail length||requires laps to get adequate workout||1 mile minimum||loop of manageable length, 1 mile minimum||3|
|trail material||broken sidewalk cement, grass||gravel, dirt, sand||paved with large wheels in mind (cement, road material, etc)||3|
|trail width||hardly large enough for single||single but easy to pass||double wide, easy to pass, side by side||3|
|bugs||doused in bug repellent and still leave itchy, mouth closed breathing||carry bug spray, could get on with out it, possibly leave with a couple of bug bites||like being indoors, a pretty butterfly would be a treat||2|
|view||grimy, no greenery, no tree cover from sun and wind, no visual appeal in the distance or directly near by||visual appeal either in the distance or directly near by, some greenery, some tree cover from sun and wind||visual appeal both in the distance and near by, green, seasonal foliage, tree cover from sun and wind||3|
|crowd (quantity)||too many people to maneuver as desired||some passing required but doable||comfortably populated||3|
|crowd (culture)||hobo community directly off path, rude or abrasive individuals||people keep to their self, not negative and not positive interactions with individuals||friendly individuals on and off the trail, smiles of encouragement, helpful if needed||3|
|cleanliness||nearly hazardous due to trash, very appealing aesthetically, unpleasant smell||trash here and there, minimal impact to aesthetics||spotless, clean||2|
|safety||not getting out of the car, too dangerous||share trail with bikers, some risk due to wildlife, surprise dark and scary and secluded tunnel or bridge, poor upkeep of trail material or signs||minimal risks, visible security/police, well maintained trail material and signs||3|
|parking||sparsely spots available in trail lot, street parking, may have to hike to trail, charge to park||adequate parking in trail lot, some hike required to get to trail||adequate parking in trail lot, no hike to trail||3|
|amenities||not encouraging the hanging out in any way||limited water, limits to any desired amenity||toilets, benches, workout section, water||2|
The Trail Running Rubric Breakdown
Cost; free (always worth three points!)
Trail Length; I didn't see every stretch of the trail on the property so I scored it a 3 for length. I have seen according to this site: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/jones-state-forest/ there are 15 miles of trail total and I am not sure if that counts narrow offshoots from the main trails. I managed much less than that and I want to go back and explore more of the trail systems at W. G. Jones State Forest.
Trail Material; dirt, mostly, some sand, and grass and all reasonably manageable with my double stroller.
Trail Width; While there are some narrow offshoots, the main trail is actually the width of a vehicle with tire tracks indicating wear.
Bugs; present but no swarms. The trail is large enough you don't find those massive spider webs that usually spread across the trails from one tree to another.
Crowd (quantity); the trails were comfortably populated not too crowded and not few people. I felt safe.
Crowd (culture); the trail goes were engaged in their hike with their companions, be it horses, dogs, or family and friends.I saw a lot of people with dogs, respectfully, stand at the side of the trail while we passed by. It was a good crowd, and I didn't see anything inappropriate as reported in an article a couple years ago. ( just do a google search the headline comes up)
Cleanliness; W. G. Jones State Forest has very clean trails. I may have seen an empty water bottle here or there but I didn't feel like it impacted aesthetics. If it bothers you consider taking a bag to pick up the left behind trash. The facility does practice a pack it in, pack it out policy but not everyone can be counted on to pull their own weight, and sometimes we need to pick up their slack. (It will make you feel good to help clean nature since nature can't clean its self.)
Safety; There is always a risk when hiking or trail running in nature but the environment feels safe. Stay aware of your surroundings and have a safety plan. I always share my location when I go on trail runs using my google maps app.
Amenities; are very limited. Bathrooms are only found at the ranger station across the street. You won't find water fountains or playground facilities, or really any other creature comfort, but plan accordingly to get the most out of your visit to W.G. Jones State Forest. I went on a day when the ranger station was closed, so I did not explore the amenities available.
Explore the Trails at W.G. Jones State Forest
The W.G. Jones State Forest receives a score of 33 out of 36. I enjoyed my time and I will go back to see how much more of the trail I can run. The little ones liked the nature experience and asked a lot of questions. My oldest did not enjoy running (she usually doesn't) and her belligerent protests were the reason we cut the exploring short. Small increments keep us all sane in that situation.
Let me know what you think about the W.G. Jones State Forest when you visit. Or if you have any questions or comments; let me know! I look forward to hearing from you.
Happy (Running) Trails!