Boondocking Site Review – Kelly’s Pond, Sam Houston National Forest, TX

Sunrise through the trees at Sam Houston National Forest

A lovely boondocking spot deep in the  gorgeous Sam Houston National Forest near Lake Conroe, TX (~70 miles N. of Houston). Multiple locations for all size rigs in here.

Location: Kelly’s Pond, Sam Houston National Forest
Coordinates: 30.51347,-95.662079. Link to map location HERE.
Cost: FREE (no permits required). Day-use fee of $5 for multi-use trail if using off-road vehicles on the trail.
How We Found It: I initially found the forest and campgrounds using Read the description for Kelly’s Pond and called up Ranger to ask if they would accept RVs at the primitive site.
Nearest Dump/Water: Nearest water at Stubblefield Campground (~4 miles North). ?? Not sure about nearest dump.

  1. Access – 4/5
    Very decent access here. The road into Sam Houston Forest (FM1375) and down to the turn (FM204) for Kelly’s Pond is excellent. Kelly’s Pond is on a dirt trail off FM204 and is clearly marked. The 1-mile road down to the campground is wide and firm with good clearance, but dusty and somewhat rocky. At the end of the trail it opens up to a large, open green field where you can easily turn around and park anywhere. There are also several, more private boondocking sites along the road down to the Pond (a particularly sweet, large spot ~1/4 mile from entrance and another very nice one ~1/2 mile in).
  2. Nature – 4/5
    It’s a pretty location here. You are right in the middle of the forest with tree views all around. At the field you do face tent-camping spots. Direct access to multi-use trail from Kelly’s Pond, plus several hiking-only trails within short distance. Nearby Lake Conroe offers boating and fishing.
  3. Isolation – 3/5
    You are deep within the forest here and well away from the road. So, during the week the place is empty and gorgeous. However, this is a popular spot for off-roaders (particularly motorbikers) so you will get bikes and people coming in on the week-end. Everyone parks in the open field area at Kelly’s Pond, so the couple of boondocking spots along the side of the road (coming in) are much more private.
  4. Pet Friendliness – 5/5
    Very pet friendly location. All trails are open to doggies and there’s lots of space for pooch to romp and play.

Overall Rating = 4.0
  Camp with view of trees and nature deep in the forest!

Summary: This is a great little boondocking site deep in Sam Houston National Forest ~70 miles North of Houston, TX. The campground is primarily a tent and off-road bikers location, but it’s set in a wide, open green field with plenty of space to park even the biggest rigs. Access is good with concrete roads all the way to the last 1-mile dirt road down to the Pond. When we arrived mid-week we were the only people here, but it started filling up on the week-end with bikers. We loved the area and would certainly stay here again, however we’d choose to stop at one of the more private boondocking sites along the road coming in rather than parking in the field at the end. There is a developed NF campground (with reservable and first-come, first-serve sites) at Cagle Recreation Area ($20/night) just ~7 miles away for those that need a back-up.

Extra Info: Vault toilet on-site, but no water or other facilities. Verizon smartphone worked. Verizon aircard worked, but benefited from external antenna/amplifier.

View of our spot in Kelly’s Pond
View from back of our RV
View from back end of “field” showing road and parking area to the right
View out side-window of our RV showing field and vault toilets (on left)
View of entrance to dirt road leading down to Kelly’s Pond
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. Rick says

    Ms flower loving Nina:
    Check the TexasHighway mag website for a recent issue on Texas wildflowers. It has been kind’a cold and dry but, come March, the Texas hills become God’s canvas to paints breath taking wild flower fields.

  2. Brent says

    Heads up, this spot is closed indefinitely due to drought conditions killing the trees. The host at Cagle said someone was killed by a falling tree almost two years ago and it had been closed since then. There are a few other spots available in the area, as well as Cagle if you don’t mind paying.

  3. Maynard Correll says

    Nina: an update as of 12/16/2013… I called the Ranger Station @ New Waverly and they said that they had reopened up Kelly Pond about 2 months ago to primitive (or boondocking)camping, so “game on” again.


  4. Chris says

    Kelly’s Pond Is most definately open, and has been. My friends and I ride dirt bikes there all the time, in fact, for the past two years! If it was in fact closed, then there was not anyone enforcing. We see people camping in tents, RV’s, and motorhomes on a regular basis. During hunting season, you will see people deer hunting as well. We see the forestry service personnel out there and they never told us it was closed, nor were there any closes gates.


  1. […] Kelly’s Pond – Also located in the Sam Houston National Forest, Kelly’s Pond features nine campsites with BBQ’s, fire rings, tables, and lantern posts. While offering a more primitive camping experience, Kelly’s Pond is closely located to the dirt bike, equestrian & mountain bike trails as well as the Lone Star Hiking Trail. For trailer and RV’s there is a large parking area (no hookups available). (Link to Boondocking site Review) […]

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