Dirt Bike Trails in Sam Houston National Forest, Texas

Did you know you are allowed to ride dirt bikes in the Sam Houston National Forest? Its multiple-use trails are the only trails open to dirt bikes in the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas.

And oh boy how happy this makes us! These dirt bike trails are literally the only and the best ones to ride your dirt bike in the Houston area at the moment.

Here you will find everything you need to know about riding on the dirt bike trails in the Sam Houston National Forest.

Dirt bike standing on a trail in Sam Houston National Forest

Dirt Bike Trails in the Houston Area

As sad as it makes us to say this, Houston is not the promised land of trail riding and enduro.

There used to be a few great riding spots, such as the Sterling Ranch ATV Park in Willis and few private trails around the north side of Houston, but unfortunately they have closed their gates at least for now.

Luckily, our favorite place is still standing and you are able to hit the dirt bike trails in the Sam Houston National Forest.

If you feel like you need some variation to your riding routines, we suggest you head to the Austin area where the closest and some of the best trails in Central Texas are located. Make sure to check out our choices for the top 3 places for dirt bike riding in Austin.

Read also: Where To Ride My Dirt Bike Near Me

Dirt Bike Riding in Sam Houston National Forest

Sam Houston National Forest contains 163,037 acres and it is popular among different types of outdoor enthusiasts. And more importanty, it has a lot to offer also for dirt bike riders.

This national forest offers about 85 miles of designated multiple-use trails. This means that you are not allowed to ride your dirt bike just anywhere but you have to do it on the designated trails within the Sam Houston National Forest.

There are two separate trail systems located on the western and eastern sides of northern Lake Conroe. There is no direct off-road access from the eastern trail system to the western one, so unless your dirt bike is street legal, you may want to choose to ride only on either side to avoid the hassle of extra loading and hauling of your bike.

Read also: The Best Dirt Bike Setup For Beginners

Dirt bike standing on a dirt bike trail in Sam Houston National Forest

Dirt Bike Trails in Sam Houston National Forest

The dirt bike trails in the Sam Houston National Forest are fast paced wider single tracks. There are clearly marked signs at each intersection on all trails so it is easy to navigate in the forest and not get lost.

The trails are two-way so you can turn back at any point if need be. This is convenient but also a bit frustrating at the same time since someone might be riding towards you on the trail. So you need to always take this into account when riding into corners and blind spots to avoid colliding.

The terrain has little to offer in elevation but it is a mix of different types of sand, mud and some technical sections.

The trails are wider than most single tracks and typically well maintained. You will find several bridges, creek crossings and lots of open wooded sections along with some road crossings.

The trails are all similar, however, many of them have small roots and berms and even whoops to keep the riders happy. While the trails are fairly easy, even the advanced riders will enjoy the endless trails and fast paced sections.

Western Trails

The western trail system consists of seven different trails. You can access the western trails from three different parking lots located at the Northwest Trailhead, Westside or 208 Trailhead, and Kelly’s Pond Trailhead.

  • North Balloon Trail
  • South Balloon Trail
  • String Trail
  • Woodpecker Trail
  • Kelly’s Pond Trail
  • Honey Moon Trail
  • Big Loop Trail

Check out the westside trail map to plan your riding day.

Eastern Trails

Also the eastern trail system consists of seven trails. The eastern trails are accessible only from one parking lot located at the Eastside Trailhead.

  • Zebra Trail
  • Fern Trail
  • Sandy Trail
  • YCC Trail
  • Northwest Trail
  • Boy Scout Trail
  • Lake Loop Trail

Check out the eastside trail map to plan your riding day.

Our Favourite Dirt Bike Trail in Sam Houston National Forest

Our favorite dirt bike trails in the Sam Houston National Forest are on the eastside.

All of the trails interconnect easily around the parking lot and based on the conditions they are usually in great condition. You can also pick and choose how long of a loop you wish to ride as they intersect frequently.

These trails are fast paced and easy and they fit for riders from the beginner level all the way to racers getting their weekly race pace practice in.

Read also: The Best Dirt Bike Setup For Advanced Riders

The dirt bike trails in Sam Houston National Forest are great for all types and level of riders. The trail systems offer shorter loops to choose from and the fact that the trails are two-way means you can turn back whenever you want to.

If you are a hard enduro rider looking for technical practice, this place will not offer much to you. But since it is one of the only places open around the Houston area, it offers a great place to practice and keep your riding skills up to par. The long, fast and easy trails are great for increasing your stamina and physique.

We have seen adventure riders, kids as well as bigger groups out on the trails so needles to say, it’s great for the entire family. You can also camp on the area which makes the weekend riding even more better with group of friends or family.

Read also: The Best Dirt Bike Setup For Racers

Bike Corssing sign next to a service road in a forest

Amenities

Toilet | Loading Ramp | Camping: Primitive

Vault toilets can be found at all trailheads with OHV parking lots. However, there is not water available so you want to bring your own water bottles to stay hydrated.

Two of the trailheads, more precisely Westside or 208 Trailhead and Eastside Trailhead, have also a loading ramp available.

Camping site with a direct trail access can be found at Kelly’s Pond Campground, which is located at the end of Forest Service Road 271. The area is very primitive with no potable water or electricity.

There are eight campsites each with picnic tables, fire rings and lantern posts. These campgrounds are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis and no reservations are taken.

Don’t worry if you are arriving with a large trailer; the campground is located on a flat, grassy field so there is plenty of room to turn around and you don’t need to stress about reversing.

If you don’t have a trailer, tent camping is also available in this campsite. Just park in the adjacent parking area and walk to the camping units.

Read also: Ultimate dirt bike size chart and seat height guide

Accessibility and Pricing

Basically anyone who meets the requirements listed in the next section is welcomed to ride on the dirt bike trails at the Sam Houston National Forest.

You need a multiple-use trail pass which costs $5 per person per day and you can purchase it at the self-pay stations at any of the trailheads.

If you are planning to ride here regularly, we recommend you buy an annual pass that costs only $25. The annual pass is available at the Ranger’s Office.

You can also purchase either type of the multiple-use trails pass online here.

In addition, you will need to have a Texas Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) decal mounted on your dirt bike. The Texas OHV decal costs $16 and is valid from September 1 to August 31 of the following year. Find out how and where to buy one here.

Read also: 4 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Dirt Bike Seat And Seat Covers

Texas OHV decal mounted on the dirt bike front fork
You must have a Texas Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) decal mounted on your dirt bike if you want to ride on the dirt bike trails in Sam Houston National Forest.

Rules to Follow

There are few rules to follow when riding on the dirt bike trails in the Sam Houston National Forest. These requirements apply both to you as a rider and your dirt bike.

  • Dirt bikes are allowed only on the designated multiple-use trail systems.
  • Only street legal dirt bikes are allowed to ride on forest service roads.
  • Dirt bikes may not be no wider than 50 inches (anything larger won’t be able to enter the trail entry posts or gates).
  • Dirt bike exhaust may not exceed 96 decibels.
  • A current Texas OHV decal must be mounted on the dirt bike.
  • Riders must carry a valid ID and a proof of day-use payment.
  • Riders must wear approved helmet and eye protection.
  • Dirt bikes operated after sunset and before sunrise must have working head and tail lights.

If you and your dirt bike do not fulfill these requirements, you are subject to a fine of $125 to $500.

Read also: Setting Up Dirt Bike Handlebars For Trail Riding

Good To Know

All trails are two-way! Be careful and be aware, especially if you are a faster rider. Head on collisions are known to happen frequently. Also, remember that after storms there might be fallen trees on the trails blocking the trail.

The dirt bike trails in the Sam Houston National Forest are open year-round. However, they will close on short notice due to bad weather or when conditions could cause trail damage. This way, the trail will stay in good condition and the riding will be safe.

So always call the Ranger’s Office first before heading out.

It’s all made simple and easy: just call at 936-344-6205 or 888-361-6908 and select option 2 for trail status. You will hear an automated trail status recording that states whether the trail is open or closed. The date on the recording is the date the trail was opened or closed. The recording will remain the same until the open/closed status changes.

In addition to dirt bike riding, the Sam Houston National Forest is great for other types of OHV trail riding, horseback riding, biking, hiking, fishing, and camping. There are also recreation areas for picnicking, swimming, and boating (both motorized and non-motorized). So there are definitely all kind of fun outdoor activities to do for the whole family.

Read also: How To Set Up Dirt Bike Suspension For Trail Riding

Service road in Sam Houston National Forest lined with trees

Location

Sam Houston National Forest is located near New Waverly, Texas. It is about 50 miles north of Houston. Map it out with Google here.

Here are the directions to the trailheads on the western and eastern trail systems:

Northwest Trailhead: From I-45, follow FM 1375 west approximately 14 miles, turn right onto FM 149 and follow approximately 1.5 miles, then turn north onto FM 1791 and continue 4 miles to intersection with FS Road 208.

Westside Trailhead or 208 Trailhead: From I-45, follow FM 1375 west approximately 10 miles, then turn north onto FS Road 208 and follow 1.4 miles.

Kelly’s Pond Trailhead: From I-45, follow FM 1375 west approximately 10 miles, turn south onto FS Road 204 and follow 1 mile, then turn west onto FS Road 271 and follow 1.5 miles.

Eastside Trailhead (233): From I-45 follow FM 1375 west for 4 miles, turn north onto FS Road 233 and follow 2.5 miles.

Check out general information about the Sam Houston multiple-use trail here.

Read also: Ultimate Guide To Dirt Bike Tire Pressure

Final Words

The dirt bike trails in the Sam Houston National Forest consist of several different trails and they are arguably the best dirt bike trails in the Houston area.

When we lived in Houston, we regularly hit these trails so we can strongly recommend them. They all offer the type of riding that helps us improve technical skills.

Remember to stay hydrated in the Texan heat and keep it pinned!

Read next: Dirt bike trail finder.

Last updated: April 20, 2022