does that mean, I can like, park my car, hike a few miles, and then "veer left" off the trail a few (hundred?) yards, and set up shop? Also, does that mean I can bury my "business" because I need to practice that...
Sorry, no SHNF experience for you. I have been to Enchanted Rock by Fredricksburg. It is state park with primitive camping. But, it is REALLY small. My brother-in-law and I went there for a 3 day and left early because we ran out of park to explore. And, we didn't spend a lot of time exploring, mostly rock climbing and caving.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
You should note that not all the land in a National Forest is actually owned by the Government. You may need permission to camp off trail in private land. For the same reason that someone should get your permission before camping in your front yard.
However, on government land, if it is permitted, you can go some distance off the trail to make your own camp. Depending on detailed regulations for the National Forest you are visiting, there may be restrictions on things like Fire/Campfire, Minimum distance between your camp and the trail, sanitation requirements on disposal - such as hole depth and covering and TP.........
It is your responsibility to find out what the regulations are, just as it isn't the responsibility of the local police to educate you on the laws of the city and until they force feed you the "education", you can do whatever you like and not worry about going to jail because you weren't told.
There are usually big signs of regulations posted near visitor centers. You may be able to get some forest maps and they may have summaries of the key regulations. You can also ask at the visitor center, or call by telephone to ask, the basic regulations for the activity that you plan to pursue while in the National Forest.
Sam Houston National Forest looks interesting. May be good hiking within 50 miles of Houston, and that is important because I may move to Houston.
I'll call the number listed on the website you linked to, and I'll ask for maps and regulations to be sent to me. Hey, you might do the same thing.
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