Hiking Project Logo

4 C National Recreation Trail

 4.3 (8)
Zoom in to see details
Map Key


20.1 Miles 32.4 Kilometers

576' 175 m


-585' -178 m



Avg Grade (1°)


Max Grade (4°)

368' 112 m


204' 62 m


Shared By Travis Longino



Getting forecast...

A well-maintained trail winding through the Davy Crockett National Forest.

Travis Longino

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding


The Four C Trail is a 20 mile trail that connects between the Neches Bluff overlook and Ratcliff Lake Recreation area. The trail meanders through the Davy Crockett National Forest amongst the tall pine trees of East Texas.

If embarking on this whole trail in one go, keep in mind that there is no potable water along the trail. Luckily, there are several locations to cache along the way! The trails are in good condition and all of the bridges have signs of recent repairs from the 2015 spring floods. The path is well defined and winds through several striking pine groves as well as passing through the Big Slough Wilderness Area, which has many large and beautiful oak trees.

There is a permanent open shelter at Walnut Creek camp as well as a few tent pads and fire ring. This is a great place for camping or simply stopping for a break along the way.

This trail was named for the Central Coal and Coke Company, which logged timber in the area, the Four C Trail follows some abandoned tramways built by that company. The sawmill was located at Ratcliff Lake, which served as a log pond. The area around the trail is a forest that grew after logging operations ended in the early 1920s.

Flora & Fauna

The trail is dominated by old and new growth pine groves and many large oak trees.


You & This Trail

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Your Check-Ins


Sep 1, 2018
Almir Mesic
Dec 29, 2017
Sam Reid
12mi — 6h 00m
Nov 26, 2017
David Gean
I did the north end from highway 21 to Walnut Creek camp then .7 past that to fs. Trail is well marked and easy. Few bridges are out. No potable water 9.3mi
Mar 2, 2017
Todd Shelley
20.1mi — 7h 30m
Jan 20, 2017
David Gean
This a great trail for a weekend if you are new to hiking. The trail is very well marked. Walnut Creek camp is a good spot. No water on this trail. 20mi
Dec 31, 2016
Josh P
My Uncle a buddy and I started this trail Dec.31,2016. We hiked it 12 miles and stopped to camp. We woke up Jan.1,2017 ate breakfast and started ou... 20mi
Mar 25, 2016
Travis Longino
Conditions are great except for about a two mile stretch south of Walnut Creek camp. There are several fallen trees making the trail hard to follow. 20mi — 7h 30m

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 8 votes


  4.3 from 8 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in Texas


319 Views Last Month
5,017 Since Feb 3, 2016
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate

I hiked the trail on Jan. 20 - 21, 2018 with a friend. Started at the Ratcliff Lake and hiked to Walnut Creek campground and then back over 2 days. Trail is mostly level, very easy to follow, white blazes generally numerous and the trail is well - worn and can be followed that way most of the time without the blazes. Temperatures were in the 70's. Ratcliff Lake has nice tent campsites and showers - $15 a night. Walnut Creek campsite a great place to stay - a fire ring with a grate on it made cooking supper and breakfast easy. The shelter is in good shape - but we chose to pitch a tent. Staged water at two locations - a gallon where the trail crosses CR 1170 near the Plain Church and 4 gallons where the trail crosses CR 511 and about 3/4 mile east of the Walnut Creek campsite. Took us about 4 hours one way, so it is very do-able to hike the whole trail out & back in two days. Didn't see anybody the whole time! Recommended. Jan 24, 2018
Traveled this trail in December 2018. We parked at Ratcliff Lake, hiked 3.5 hours, 8 miles. Trail was clear, well maintained, beautiful, and devoid of anyone else. Extensive pine trees, with other deciduous trees. Extremely beautiful in early December. Very light understory. However, at the long boardwalk, 6 miles N. of Ratcliff Lake and about 1 mile S of FS 517, there was damage that required we get off the destroyed boardwalk and climb over trees. We crossed the iron bridge at FS 517. It was nearly dark and we had at least 1.5 mi left before Walnut Campground, so we camped there. In the morning, hiked back. Dec 10, 2018
Jeremiah Gonzalez
San Marcos, TX
Jeremiah Gonzalez   San Marcos, TX
So silly question but this will be my first through hike, I would ideally, like to hike the entire 20 miles but my question is what do you do when you get to the end of the trail? Do you just go and walk back and do the other 20? Do you hire an uber and take it back, if there are ubers available in the area? Do you just hitchhike?? Advice please. Also about this Walnut Creek Shelter what, exactly, is this shelter? Ive heard mixed things that there are beds and fire pits and everything but I havent seen anything about it. Jan 10, 2019

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking