Monday, May 08, 2006

Half Day in the Forest

Sam Houston National Forest is about 163,000 acres of woodlands, farms and privately owned timber. If you ride North of Houston and you don’t see at least part of The Forest, you are simply not trying at all. It includes land in Montgomery, Walker and San Jacinto Counties.

There are several good roads in this area but since this is a half day ride, and since it takes about an hour just to get to the riding area from Pearland (and another hour back) we really only have time to hit one or two of the nice strips up here.

This ride has the added advantage of being very simple to plot. Once in the riding area, there are only a couple of intersections where you will change roads. You won’t need your GPS for this route, just some moderate short term memory.

The first order of business is to get to the riding area North of Pinehurst at the intersection of 1488 & 149. Take any path you choose. I took 288 –> 610W -> 290W -> Bingle -> North Houston Rosslyn Rd -> 249N -> Pinehurst. In Pinehurst, you pick up 149 – one of the primary roads in this loop. Take 149 about 4 miles North to 1488. Then ride ¾ mile west and you are at the intersection that begins the fun part of this ride.

Once you are on 149 north of 1488, just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride for the next 40+ miles until you get to Anderson. You’ll see plenty of other bikes of all varieties. Make me proud and wave at them. You’ll also see lots of tall trees and plenty of curves. These roads are not the peg scraping kind, just gentle twists and turns that are a pleasure to ride.

Once in Anderson, you’ll jog over to FM-1774 and have another nice long segment of about 26 miles to Magnolia. On this stretch, you’ll go past the home of the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville, and a little later you may be lucky like we were and find live music at Henry’s Hideout just North of Magnolia. Be sure to find out their slogan at Henry’s. Then figure out why it’s there slogan.

At Magnolia, pick up 1488 and head back to I-45S and home.

There are plenty of gas stops on this loop so relax and enjoy the scenery like this historic courthouse.

The only negative I consider worthy of comment on this ride is that there is quite a bit of traffic compared to routes further South (like Bellville) or East (like Chuck’s loops.) Still, it’s a great day, and if you stop for a soft drink you are bound to be parked right next to another biker that will chat with you awhile. Enjoy the day and the company.

Turn-by-turn(192 Miles – 4 ½ hours)
Start at FM-518 & SR-288 in Pearland
Ride N 7.5 mi to 610W, Exit and Merge
Continue W and N 12.6 mi to US-290
Ride NW 3.8 mi to Bingle Rd – Turn right
Ride N 2 mi to N. Houston Rosslyn Rd – Bear left
Ride NW 4 mi to SR-249 – Turn left
Ride NW 12 mi to FM-149 – Bear Right
Ride N 3.7 mi to FM-1488 – Turn Left
Jog W 0.7 mi back to FM-149 – Turn Right
Stay on FM-149 about 40 miles to Anderson
At Anderson FM-149 bears left and merges with SR-90S
Ride S 0.2 mi to FM-2819 – Turn Left
Ride E 1.3 mi to FM-1774 – Turn Right
Ride SE 26 mi to 1488 – Turn Left
Ride E 18 mi to I-45S – use ramp and merge
Ride S 35 mi to SR-288 – Merge
Ride S 12.5 mi to 518 where you began


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