I hiked this trail in about August of 2002. Very, very easy trail and it actually has a shelter on it. Anyone out there ever try this one?
Where this 4C trail be located.
Excellent question. I guess I need to write something about this trail.
The 4C trail is located in east Texas near Ratcliffe, TX. The trail is generally north-south. On the southern end is Ratcliffe Lake Park which charges a parking fee ($3 a day, but there are facilities), and the north end is at Neches Bluff which is free, but has no facilities.
The trail is about 20 miles long (I found discriptions for it saying 19.5 and 21.something) and follows an old logging train route through the forest. The trail is easy across almost the entire portion I did, and I'll cover that.
I went to the north end and parked, and slept in the car since it was like 2200. the next day I set off at about 0700 (it was August and hot) and hiked SOBO. The trail started going down the bluff, and this was slightly moderate walk. The trail map I printed off the internet wan't entirely accurate. map (http://www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/texas/images/maps/4c_trail.gif). It goes down the bluff on an old jeep trail and runs into a powerline road. Follow the power line road past a bunch of in-use jeep trails until you pass a pond on the right. After the pond, take an old jeep trail to the right going past what I considered the first good water. Climb to the top of the hill and go onto the old train tracks.
There isn't anything left of the tracks themselves, but the trail is a raised earth trail that is very level and straight most of the time. there are some sections where erosion from creeks has destroyed a lot of the trail, and you must detour around, sometimes loosing site of the old train tracks, but the trail is well marked and there isn't a chance of getting lost. The worst wash outs go through swamp areas and have cool raised boardwalks. At the time I went, some went over dry ground, but there was plenty of water sign under them, so you could imagine what it would be like in wet weather.
The trail passes a lot of ponds, stuff you would imagine alligators living in, and occasionally you may see turtles, frogs, and even water birds. Some of the ponds show lots of signs of recent fishing, so maybe if you want to give it a try, you could bring a pole along. BTW, pond camp wan't to my liking, so I skipped past it.
About 7 miles from the start, you come too the shelter (13 if you come from the south guess) which is like a 10 person AT shelter with a privy (many, many bullet holes) and 5 gravled tent pads. In front of the shelter is a creek, but the water has a reddish tint to it. It didn't hurt me to drink it, and all I did is treat with iodine. The last signs I could make of anyone being in the shelter was a note written on a tent instruction manal for a hiker following, the person had dated the note for June, so about 2 months prior! Talk about low use. There was dry firewood inside the shelter and lots of cob webs. If I ever went back I would bring (and donate) a small wisk broom, and a notebook for a shelter register. There were places to hang food, but no varmit stoppers. I found some cans in the trash and made me one to hang the food bag in the shelter.
It was thretening rain, so I made lunch inside the shelter and strung up my hammock (testing a Clark on that trip), then packed a rain top, water, and some snacks into a shoulder bag and continued south from my new base camp to see the Big Slough. The Big Slough is about 1 mile (give or take) south.
The Big Slough is a swamp. As you get near it, it looks exactly like what I expected a smap to be like. Crossing a large metal footbridge, you enter from the north. There are lots of places where the trail is getting overgrown with wild bamboo and vines, but it is still very passable. Some of the coolest boardwalks were in this section. I stopped for some time at a couple of them hoping to get some pictures of wildlife, but nothing showed.
Walking this trail is very, very easy except for the overgrowth. Looking at how the water flows through this area, it is amazing that anyone even tried to build a railway through here. I can imagine that maintaining it would have been a nightmare. The Big Slough portion of the trail is about 1 mile long.
At the end of the big slogh, the trail looked basically like the rest of the 4C trail, so I tried taking the dirt road as a walk around the west side of the slough hoping to see some different stuff. I saw nothing interesting and wish I had gone back through the Slough to try and get some wildlife pictures.
The next day I headed back the way I came since I needed to get back that day. If had more time I would have yo-yo the whole trail, or I would hike with another person and left a car at each end. In the end I only saw about 1/2 the trail.
Here is a link to where I found out about this trail: 4C Trail (http://www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/texas/Recreation/Davy%20Crockett/four_c_hiking_trail.htm)
Hi SGT , My son and I and 2 other men did the 4-c this past Monday and Tuesday. Like you say it was very easy. Almost got borring at times. The Big Slough was interesting, there was lots of water everwhere. In another week or 2 I bet the mosquitoes would carry you off alive. The weather on day 1 was as good as it can get. We walked the 13 miles to the Wilson Creek camp and spent the night. Day 2 was cloudy and started a light rain, about 2 miles out it came a down pour and didn't stop tell we got to the end of the trail.We were all socked from the waist down. We didn't see any wild life other than one rabbit and a few birds. The north end of the trail where you started was the best part of the trail , I told my son at least the trail ended with a flare. All in all we had a great time just being outdoors for a couple days.
If the north end was the best part, then I'm glad I did it as I did. I think it would be a great tral for introducing folks to hiking because it is so easy and water at the shelter is abundant.
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