SLOUGH + FOREST TRAIL
Martin Dies Jr. State Park sits on the Steinhagen Reservoir just outside of the small town of Jasper, Texas. Quiet, small and scenic, the park is a wonderful location for an extended and relaxing weekend getaway. Hiking and paddling trails are available for folks who want to explore the forest from both land and shore. We visited the first week of November and the fall colors were incredible and well worth a full weekend’s stay. We’ve been advised to avoid summer due to mosquitoes so consider that if planning a summer getaway.
The Slough Trail + Forest Trail will take you on a 3 mile loop through the forest crossing bridges over small marshes and under tall, towering pines. Start your hike at the trailhead along Park Road 48 which can be found after crossing the small bridge past park headquarters. From here, your hike begins by entering into the forest as you start the counter clockwise journey around the interior of the park.The Slough Trail has around 8 foot bridges that traverse low wetlands providing a very intimate and excellent observation platform to view the scenery.
As you end the Slough Trail, you will exit back onto Park Road 48. Take a left and follow the road if you want to end your hike early. To continue the hike on the Forest Trail, turn right, cross the road and look for the trail head about 100 feet down the shoulder. The Forest Trail is a nice, easy 1 mile section that leads you back behind headquarters and near the first campground. Stay to hiker’s left when presented with a fork in the trail and you will eventually exit about a quarter mile from where the hike started.
WALNUT PADDLE TRAIL
We obviously write a lot of trail reviews that you need to lace up your boots for, but how about a trail where you need to grab your paddle and life jacket? Martin Dies Jr State Park offers a plethora of paddling trails that provide unparalleled views of scenery that you cannot see from land based adventures. Rent a canoe for $20 for three hours from the headquarters and spend some time navigating the calm waters of east Texas. The water access is definitely well worth the $20 and was a unique and memorable way to sightsee.
We recommend exploring the Walnut Paddling trail which will navigate you between two shorelines and protect you from any stronger currents you may find out in the lake. Turn right from the drop point and paddle up the canal. Cross under the small road bridge and enter into a floating forest of cypress that you can weave through. Explore the shoreline and cypress branches looking for all kinds of wildlife that may be warming in the sun or resting in the shade. From here, explore the different nooks and crannies of the environment and paddle at your leisure. If you exit the canal and try to attempt the full loop, expect to paddle against the current and to dedicate about 3 hours for the elongated adventure. We suggest exploring the canal and returning back the way you entered. Along your journey, be on the lookout for alligators floating around on the surface or warming in the sun!