Enhancement of Federal Lands


Sam Houston National Forest - Eastside Multi-use Trail Rehabilitation

The Multiple Use Trail (MUT) on the Sam Houston National Forest (SHNF) provides the only legal riding opportunities for Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) on National Forest land in the state of Texas.

The MUT is composed of 85 miles of trails open to OHVs, bicycles, equestrians, and hiking. Separated into two near equal length trail systems by the northern end of Lake Conroe, the MUT offers a network of loops and trail options. Five trailheads (four with CXT vault toilets) have amenities such as information kiosk, self pay stations, and large parking areas for trailers. Kelly Pond Trailhead offers free overnight camping with picnic tables and expanded parking for trailers or motor homes. Historical use of OHVs on the SHNF dates back to 1960’s. Pioneering the first routes for endurance trail riding, the Trail Riders of Houston (TRH) have held the Caney Creek Enduro for over 40 years on the SHNF trails.

Partnerships play a critical role in the success of trail sustainability measures and management principles. As the number of visitors continues to increase the Forest Service relies on cooperating partners such as local trail users, the Trail Riders of Houston, the Sam Houston Trails Coalition, local businesses, and Texas Parks and Wildlife to manage the trail system effectively. This trend toward fostering positive partnerships is critical to the long term sustainability of all trails on the Forest as budgets and staff continue to decline. Volunteer groups such as the Trail Riders of Houston, Old Dudes on Dirt Bikes, the Sam Houston Trails Coalition, Boy Scouts of America, and others will continue to play a critical role in the management and maintenance of the MUT. Volunteers previously trained to work with mechanized trail equipment will continue their training and those interested in learning the mechanized aspects of trail building and new erosion control techniques will be invited to participate. Volunteers will aid in the construction of proposed bridges, repairs to existing bridges, and trail tread rehabilitation. Over the past fiscal year volunteers have contributed over 10,000 hours of volunteer labor on the Sam Houston National Forest.

The five proposed task for this grant are as follows:

  • Replacement of bridges number 41 and 29 with engineered structures installed by Trails Unlimited.
  • Deferred maintenance on an additional four wooden bridges. Specific task might include installation on new sills, replacement of handrails with curbs and scupper blocks where appropriate, abutment repairs and armoring, and armoring of bridge approaches.
  • Trail rehabilitation of the Kelly Pond Trail (3 miles) and Woodpecker Trail (8.5 miles).
  • One mile re-route to eliminate a short (0.25 mile) section of trail that is perpetually wet and crosses heavily traveled public roads three times
    in a 1⁄4 mile.
  • Continued Volunteer training.

More winners of this award

2021: Bridge Buttress Trail

2019: Diversified Winter Trail Grooming – Wyoming

2018: Rim Butte OHV Trails - Oregon

2017: Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Trail - Delaware and Maryland