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Newcomer to backpacking! Trying to find a friend(s) to tag along with as I get the ropes

 So while I do have experience in hiking, I'm as new to camping/backpacking as one can be. I've been wanting to open up my outdoor experience towards camping and backpacking for months but none of my friends are into this radical thing called "outside" so during all the COVlD stuff, that def didn't work out. I was also advised NOT to try backpacking/ camping alone as a first time (which I understand) so I came here! This is my first time in the REI community so I hope I'm in the right place. 

I'm in my 20's from Florida but live in Central Texas. I've have been thru hiking, hiking rocky mountains etc. So I feel like I have the stamina to keep up with the group. I've recently purchased all the necessary (in my opinion) to start backpacking. I'm also an open and outgoing person down for anything, esp if it's with the boys 🍻 I'm currently in Central Texas but am willing to drive about an hour in any direction to backpack/camp. If you're in or near my area hit me up. Thanks!

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Hi @Bushcraft_Vega, I'm so excited that you've decided to start camping/backpacking. Both are AMAZING outdoor activities, and I'm sure you'll love them. I wanted to draw your attention to a similar post that was recently written by another individual living in Texas, @trails, who is also a beginner backpacker. Maybe you guys can get in contact! Here is the link to the post, which also has some suggestions/advice you may want to read.

I also have a lot of camping and backpacking experience (in a variety of locations), so if you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out; I'll help however I can. 🙂

Have fun and stay safe!

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Will do, thanks!

Howdy @Bushcraft_Vega ! and welcome!

I'm originally from Dallas and that's where I tried to start my backpacking 'career'.  I also lived in Killeen for a few years (Ft Hood) and College Station (4yrs, TAMU '78, gig-em!).

Alas, driving 1hr in any direction in central Texas, just gets you to.... (wait for it), more central Texas.

Did you know that it's farther from Dallas to El Paso than it is from El Paso to California?

So my only choice when I was young, was to drive to Big Bend, yikes! what a LONG drive.

I don't want to say you're out of luck...but....

Texas has not done too well in the National Forest or Wilderness area.

Heck, If I knew then what I know now, I'd drive up to Colorado or New Mexico.

All that said, I just checked and there appears to be a trail/road network in the Davy Crockett national forest and Sabine national forest.

I recommend going to, and open a free account.

From there, on the right panel, open the generic 'map' layer, which gives you a 'google maps' view, then center the map on the crockett NF.

Then pull up the national forest layer.  Then click on the 'add', then 'line' button on the top, and a network of yellow highlighted trails/roads will appear.

These are 'trails' in the NF.  In a NF you are allowed to camp anywhere you want.

Find a trail head, then study the available routes, I always a choose a potential camp site near a creek or water source.

Play around with creating that line, then save.

You can then print a map of your selected itinerary and/or export that 'line' (actually a gpx route) to your PC, then email that gpx file to your phone to use on your phone's map app (not google maps), but something like the gaia app.  Download the maps of your hiking area onto your phone app before you leave home, so you can keep your phone on airplane mode.  This process allows you to follow your selected route from both your phone and your printed maps.

hope you can find some friends to go with, if not, no problem going solo.

good luck

REI Member Since 1979

Thanks for that! That's a very good tip, it's so hard to find places in this area and this will help a lot. Much appreciated. 

Hi @Bushcraft_Vega I am from Iowa and pretty new as well. Just a suggestion if you haven't already watched their videos, Dixie aka Homemade Wanderlust, and Hike Oregon are great resources for info on youtube. I have watched every video. Dixie has a great beginner backpacking series and she holds a triple crown, AT, PCT, and CDT. Dixie has backpacked alone for 1000s of miles, and Hike Oregon also goes solo. Anyway, best wishes for a happy journey!

@Bushcraft_Vega I can't forget to mention Miranda in the Wild!! She works for REI and she's on the REI YouTube page. Miranda is awesome! She's on insta too Mirandagoesoutside.

I watched all of her videos already lol! All of us think the same. 

Yeah, I've been binge watching her videos so much lately. T.A. Outdoors as well. But thanks for the advice!