10 Best Overlanding Routes in Texas
Heading to Texas for an overland adventure? You're in for a treat! Let's dive in and discover the best routes and trails this grand state has to offer.
Is Texas a Good Place for Overlanding?
Absolutely! Texas isn't just big; it's also incredibly diverse. With iconic landmarks like The Alamo and the breathtaking Big Bend National Park, Texas is a treasure trove of experiences. But there's more to Texas than just sightseeing.
Picture this: a state with an ever-changing landscape, featuring everything from alpine mountains to dormant volcanoes, canyons, and beaches. It's a dream for campers and overlanders alike. And with Texas being the second-largest state in the U.S., covering 268,597 square miles, you'll never run out of new places to explore.
In 2018, over 72.5 million people visited Texas from out-of-state, drawn by its rich culture, food, music, and wildlife. But how does overlanding fit into this picture, especially with Texas known for its extensive private lands?
Navigating Texas' Overlanding Scene
While Texas does have vast private lands, mainly used for ranching, it also offers public lands for adventurers. The U.S. Forest Service manages over 675,000 acres of public land in Texas, which is about 4.2% of the state's total land area. While this may seem small, in Texas, it's quite significant.
However, unlike other states, Texas has minimal BLM land due to its unique history. When Texas joined the union in 1845, it kept control over most of its land. This uniqueness can make finding trails a bit challenging for those unfamiliar with the area, but plenty of options are still available.
Where to Start Your Overland Journey in Texas
Not sure where to begin? We've got you covered with the top ten overlanding routes in Texas. Whether you're looking for a weekend getaway or a longer adventure, these trails offer a variety of landscapes and experiences for every overlander.
Top Ten Overlanding Spots in Texas
1. Barnwell Mountains: A Must-Visit for Overlanders
Nestled atop East Texas's Barnwell Mountains, the Barnwell Recreation Area is a top pick for overlanding enthusiasts. Managed by the Texas Motorized Trails Coalition (TMTC), this spot has earned its fame as one of Texas's premier overlanding destinations.
Since its inception in 2000, the Barnwell Recreation Area in Gilmer boasts over 27 miles of diverse trails perfect for both overlanding and off-roading. These trails, mapped and cared for by TMTC volunteers, offer a raw and authentic experience. They're not your polished, easy-going paths, so prepare for some rugged adventures. The challenge level varies, so whether you're looking for an adrenaline-filled ride or a milder journey, there's a path for you – including a 16-mile trail for those preferring a gentler adventure.
The area is open to a variety of vehicles, from dirt bikes and UTVs to OHVs, ensuring no one misses out. The terrain here is a mix, from easy roads to challenging sections with steep inclines, muddy stretches, and rugged paths. The real charm lies in the surrounding woods and rolling mountains, adding to the area's allure.
For those planning an extended stay, primitive campsites are available. They're basic but adequate, accommodating vehicles of all sizes. While these sites lack amenities like water hookups and showers, you'll find these facilities at nearby rental camps.
In summary, Barnwell Recreation Area is a fantastic choice for overlanders at any skill level, offering a mix of terrains and experiences in the heart of East Texas's beautiful landscapes. However be aware that an entry fee is required and it depends on your vehicle type.