Forests abound in the Piney Woods of east Texas, an abounding made possible with about 750,000 acres of National Forests and National Preserves. Thick trees and fields of wildflowers create naturally beautiful settings for camping, as well as hiking and biking trails. Local lakes and rivers keep the scenery green and also allow for water sports. But the Woods aren't pure wilderness. The Piney Woods runs from Beaumont all the way north to Texarkana, and includes many towns; Athens, Henderson, Longview, Marshall, Nacogdoches, Palestine and Tyler are just a few.
Nacogdoches claims to be the oldest town in Texas (as do other towns), and is named for a Caddo Indian family believed to have founded a settlement in the area. Red brick streets run through the historic and charming downtown, and you can walk through a reconstructed 19th century village. The town is a starting place for scenic east Texas drives, whether it's history, architecture or natural sights you're looking for. Antique and specialty shops are thick through the area. Since it's home to the Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches also has a college town atmosphere. US Highway 59 or 21 bring you to Nacogdoches.
Flowers are everywhere in Tyler, known as the "Rose Capital of America," which supplies 20 percent of the nation's rose bushes. In spring, walk or drive the eight miles of Azalea Trails and see azaleas covering lawns and porches. In fall, the scent of roses fills the air during the annual Texas Rose Festival in October, when hundreds of thousands of roses are on display. Championship golf courses bring golfers here year-round. Tyler is 90 miles east of Dallas on I-20.