Texas Forest Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Early Texas Explorations

El Camino Real de los Tejas trail segment, Mission Tejas State Park
Trail segment, Mission Tejas State Park


"Hardly had we begun to enjoy the pleasing sensation of drifting down the stream when a roaring noise was heard ahead," geologist Robert T. Hill reported during his 1899 survey of the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande River. The sound came from "seething and dangerous torrents of water foaming over huge rounded boulders" just around the river bend; in other words, rapids. Hill and his survey crew managed to negotiate the formidable rapids only after getting out of their boats and guiding them by stern lines through the swift current. Explorers of the rest of the vast wilderness destined to become Texas didn't have it any easier. Early French, Spanish, and Anglo expeditions trekked across our territory only to succumb occasionally to starvation, disease, and slaughter (and perpetrating some of their own misery along the way).

Fortunately for modern Texans their historic routes are now free of such tribulations. Follow the El Camino Real de los Tejas today (the trail once used by the Spanish to pursue their French rivals across the state) and your only concern will be choosing where, among your many options, to stop for dinner. Follow Hill's route down the Lower Canyons, however, and you'll still be facing rapids. Some places in Texas may have changed but in others the adventure remains wet and wild!

Upcoming Events

  • April 29, 2017 - 10:00am to 3:00pm

    Mission Tejas State Park
    120 State Park Rd. 44
    On Hwy 21 between Alto & Crockett
    Weches  Texas  75844
    United States

    Demonstrations of early pioneer life. Civil War exhibits, Buffalo Soldiers, and authentic trapper camps. Presentations of the ways of life during this time which may include: Blacksmithing, quilting, chair making, tool making, spinning

  • May 12, 2017 - 9:00am to May 14, 2017 - 5:00pm

    Sam Houston Memorial Museum
    1836 Sam Houston Avenue
    1402 19th Street
    Huntsville  Texas  77340
    United States

    The General Sam Houston Folk Festival offers a fun variety of cultural and memorable experiences for every family member. The Sam Houston Memorial Museum's fifteen-acre grounds will be transformed for this annual event.


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Read more about Texas exploration in the Handbook of Texas Online.