The Angelina National Forest, located in eastern Texas, east of
Lufkin, is 153,174 acres. There are five developed
campgrounds, three of which met the selection criteria.
The Angelina National Forest, hugging the shores of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir, making it unique among the four national forests in Texas. None of the other forests have the concentration of water sports found in the Angelina nor do they have the number of developed forest service camping locations. The Sam Rayburn Reservoir is one of the largest man-made lakes in Texas and contains trophy size Largemouth bass. While many come to the Angelina National Forest the first time to enjoy the various water sports available there, it is the national forest camping experience that brings folks back time and again.
The Angelina National Forest, named for an Indian maiden praised in the journals of the first Spanish and French explorers to the area, has several interesting sights to explore, such as in Turkey Hill and Upland Island wildernesses and along the Sawmill Hiking trail. Longleaf, loblolly and shortleaf pine cover the gently rolling terrain with shade, offering a safe environment for wildlife and good places for a family camping vacation. It also has the quiet and secluded locations that attract car and tent camping enthusiasts.
Turkey Hill Wilderness is located on the north side of Sam Rayburn Reservoir and furthest away from the national forest camping included in this campground review. Closer to Boykin Springs
Recreation Area, Caney Creek, and Sandy Creek campgrounds is Upland Island Wilderness area. Wildernesses are Congressional designated places where the Forest Service attempt to keep the imprint of humans is substantially unnoticed. So exploring with Turkey Hill or Boykin Springs wildernesses is like a trip into the past. In these Wilderness areas visitors will discover Texas the way it was a hundred, maybe two-hundred years ago.
The 5.5-mile Sawmill Hiking Trail, marked by white painted rectangular markings, winds from Boykin Springs Recreation Area to Bouton Lake. The Neches River can be seen from several points along the trail. Portions of the trail follow an old tramway once used as a rail line to haul logs to the sawmills making it this trail relatively level and good for the whole to use. A short spur leads off the trail leads to the historic Old Aldridge Sawmill site along Boykin Creek.
The Old Aldridge Sawmill was the center of a small thriving community until 1920. Logging was the economic base for the community, but when the trees were gone the sawmill closed and the community dissolved. The "clear cut" technique used by the logging industry of that time produced land prone to erosion and poor for farming. By the mid-1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was replanting most of the area with pine trees. With the completion of the reforestation plans, the CCC could turn its attention to other projects such as recreation areas. Boykin Springs Recreation Area, with its large, mature pines offering shade and respite from the heat, is one of those areas constructed by the CCC in 1937. Although the Forest Service has upgraded the area somewhat, Boykin Springs has lost none of its rustic CCC charm and natural beauty.
Following the trail from Boykin Springs Recreation Area to the Old Aldridge Sawmill takes visitors through an excellent example of a dry, upland Longleaf pine woods. When the weather is wet, look for south-facing hillside bogs. Robert Mohlenbrock states in his article, "Boykin Springs Longleaf, Texas" (Natural History, 7/92), some 150 plant species can be found in these bogs, including nearly two dozen rare and endangered species. Be sure to take a camera and get some very special national forest pictures.
Of course to enjoy the Angelina's many sights, visitors need a place to stay. Boykin Springs Recreation Area includes a 9-acres lake (good for canoeing), hiking, fishing, picnicking, and a sweet little campground with a section designed for tent and car camping and another area good for recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping. It is a nice place just getting back in touch with nature.
Another ways to "get back to nature" is to stay at Sandy Creek, located on the shores of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Completed in 1963, this recreation area provides visitors with panoramic views of the lake. Again there are sections for tent and car camping and another for motorhome and RV campers. With a focus more on water play suited to the Reservoir, this campground also offers campers flush toilets and cold shower facilities.
While boating may dominate the thoughts of many visitors to the Angelina National Forest, the recreational opportunities are not limited to just water activities. Hiking in the cathedral-like silence of the east Texas "piney woods", over hillsides and along the many streams, provide visitors a pleasant experience. And, there are the many discoveries visitors can make, such as a patch of highbush blueberry or mastering the art of marshmallow roasting. Those old journal of early explorers commented on the caring and giving nature of Angelina. Today the National Forest that bears her name continues that tradition of caring and giving not only to the many visitors that pass through but also to land. Come and see how the Forest Service carries on in Angelina's name.
415 South First St.
Lufkin, Texas 75901-3801
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
111 Walnut Ridge Road
Zavalla, Texas 75980