I came up with the idea for this cache all by myself. I decided a long multi-cache on a loop trail off of the Lone Star Hiking Trail might be something people would enjoy. How Ty Dolney managed to steal my idea when he placed his Four Cache Loop back in 2003 (2 years before I even started caching) is beyond me. I guess great minds just think alike!
Seriously, everyone seems to like Ty's Four Cache Loop, so (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery) I thought another similar cache would also be well-received. This loop is about 3 miles shorter and somewhat easier terrain than the Four Cache Loop, so if you think the FCL might be a bit too strenuous for you, try this one first.
This is a multi-leg cache located in the Sam Houston National Forest on the Little Lake Creek Loop Trail. This is a 6.9 mile loop off of the Lone Star Hiking Trail just north-northwest of Montgomery, TX. The Lone Star Hiking Club describes this loop as the Richards Loop Hike. The cache can be completed in three hours if you are an aggressive hiker (provided you don't spend too much time searching for the stages), four hours at a more leisurely pace. The ~7 miles of hiking is what contributes the most difficulty to this cache especially if you attempt it in the warmer months.
PARKING: I recommend parking at the official trailhead off of forest service road 219 at N30° 32.315 W95° 47.076. Because the stages will lead (counter-clockwise) around the loop trail, if you choose other parking spots you might end up walking even more mileage. This trailhead is the western end of the Lone Star Hiking Trail.
HIKING: Little Lake Creek Loop will take you through the typical East Texas terrain that you've experienced around other caches in the area. You'll walk through tall stands of pines and through meandering creek beds lined with deciduous hardwoods. The trail is fairly well-marked and maintained, though you have to keep an eye peeled for the trail markers on some parts of the loop section. You will turn right at the first intersection you come to (about .2 miles into the hike) taking the Little Lake Creek Trail, which is marked with silver and orange trail markers. At the next intersection, past WP2, you will turn left onto the West Fork Crossover, which is marked with silver and blue trail markers. Shortly past that, you will come to the main Lone Star Trail, where you will turn left again. The Lone Star Hiking Trail is marked with plain silver markers. You will stay on this trail to WP3, the final cache, and back to the parking area.
You can get a trail map from the L.S.H.T. club's map page.
A good description of the trail can also be found on the club's site.
I counted seven creek-crossings, but only three were of any consequence. If you are familiar with the Four Notch Loop trail, this one has considerably fewer crossings, but the trail may be a little less well groomed. I would estimate an average time of about 2.5 - 3 hours just to hike the entire loop without taking into account any time spent searching for the cache stages. A flashlight might be of help if you don't plan accordingly.
TOP: Little Lake Creek Trail marker -- BOTTOM: West Fork Trail marker
CACHING: The first stage is at the listed coordinates and contains the coordinates to the second stage; the second to the third; and the third to the final cache. The first three stages are various small containers with the coordinates stuck to the inside with label tape. There also should be little paper slips inside with the coordinates and hint for the next stage. Feel free to take one. After getting the next set of coordinates at any of the stops, please make sure you close container lid tightly and properly so it stays dry inside. The final cache is an ammo can with a logbook and plenty of trade goods. As a memento for completing this cache, I've included a special souvenir to note your accomplishment. Please only take one token per caching team. I've left unregistered HoustonControl geocoins for the FTF and STF!
HINTS: I've included hints for each stage in the hint section, but the stages shouldn't be too hard to find. (OK, maybe WP2 will be a little tough.) All stages are within 200 feet or so of the trail.
WARNINGS: Here are a number of things that you should take note of before you venture out for this cache. There are many insects (mosquitoes & ticks), arachnids (spiders & scorpions), poisonous snakes (copperheads & coral snakes), poison ivy, animals (feral hogs & bobcat) and hunters (bubba & joe bob) that live and dwell in these woods. Take proper precautions when hiking and prodding around in the bushes while searching for this cache. Wear sun lotion in the sun; bug juice when its warm; neon orange clothes during deer hunting season (end of September to mid January); pants when walking through brush. A couple of the stages will involve encounters with vines, weeds, and thorns, so consider yourself warned! Bring a lot of water to drink if you plan to hike in the summer time.
Regardless of the warnings this is really a safe place to hike around. I've done this loop... well, at least three times now! Enjoy Nature!!
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Congratulations to ATMA and OHL Hockey Guy for being FTFs!