The Houston area may not be famous for its scenic beauty or its prevalence of hikes, but it is only an hour away from the longest continuous hiking path in Texas: the Lone Star Hiking Trail.

The Lone Star Hiking Trail meanders through the pine-filled Sam Houston National Forest for 96 miles with an additional 32 miles of loops for a total of 129 miles. With 15 trailheads, it's easy to break up the walk in smaller sections that can be completed in a day.

One of the Outbound Adventurers and I have had our share of mishaps on the Lone Star Hiking Trail, including this great example of what not to do in the great outdoors. Between droughts, controlled burns and flash floods, we've faced a number of challenges in meeting our goal to walk the whole trail over the course of a few years' camping seasons.

On a damp February Saturday, we headed out, undaunted, to explore the area between trailheads 14 and 15, a segment called Winters Bayou. These are a few of the haunting and beautiful sights that greeted us when we entered the quiet woods.

Wooden paths elevate hikers over boggy ground

Wooden paths elevate hikers over boggy ground

The same path looks more treacherous from the other side

The same path looks more treacherous from the other side

Concrete and metal remnants of fire houses and lookout towers are slowly being enveloped by the forest

Concrete and metal remnants of fire houses and lookout towers are slowly being enveloped by the forest

Much of the trail is muddy and damp, but this sturdy metal bridge provides dry passage for hikers

Much of the trail is muddy and damp, but this sturdy metal bridge provides dry passage for hikers

Fungus grows along the breaks in this tree's bark

Fungus grows along the breaks in this tree's bark

These vines have grown around one another in an elegant double helix

These vines have grown around one another in an elegant double helix

The meandering Winters Bayou is covered in a light haze of mist

The meandering Winters Bayou is covered in a light haze of mist

Of course, a trip along the Lone Star Hiking Trail can't be uneventful for us. This time was no exception.

We made it 5.5 miles, then drove to another trailhead to camp nearby for the evening. We had expected a bit of rain, but a glowing cell phone screen at 2:45 in the morning alight with a radar showing the full spectrum of green to red was enough to make us break camp and retreat to the RAV4.

Fortunately, they're built for such emergencies, but it was the first time I have ever abandoned a campsite in the middle of the night.

As beautiful as it is, the Lone Star Hiking Trail seems to mean bad news for me!

Before the eventful evening, I was so inspired by the soft colors of the hike, I decided to curate a color palette based on what I had seen. With colors like these surrounding me, I'd have even more inspiration to get out and explore my world — stormy or not!

Winters Bayou Palette

Winters Bayou Palette

#776644 (RGB 119 102 68), #99AA99 (RGB 153 170 153), #998866 (RGB 153 136 102), #DDDDDD (RGB 221 221 221), #BBBBBB (RGB 187 187 187)

What hikes have inspired you with their surprising beauty? Let me know in the comments.

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