4-C Hiking Trail

19.50 Miles
3point5stars (3.56)8
1point5stars (1.81)
3point5stars (3.81)
More Info
Four C trailhead in Ratcliff National Recreation Area
(Photo by kcameron)
The sign indicates this is strictly a hiking path -- no bikes and no horses. (Photo by kcameron)
Three trails share this pathway at the beginning. Notice the different color blazes. (Photo by kcameron)
Bridges are in excellent shape along the trail. (Photo by kcameron)
This was the site of a prescribed burn 4 days earlier. (Photo by kcameron)
Another view of the prescribed burn area. (Photo by kcameron)
Mile markers are located off the trail and are easily missed. They occur at every mile, though. (Photo by kcameron)
The trail north of FM 227 is much denser than the trail in the Ratcliff National Recreation Area. (Photo by kcameron)
I call this section "the tunnel". You can easily see why. This is about 4 miles up the trail. (Photo by kcameron)
Sunlight on the trail
Sunlight on the trail (Photo by jlittle)
Four-C Forest
This is a pretty typical view (Photo by jlittle)
You'll pass this pond about 3 miles into the hike from Ratcliff lake. (Photo by jlittle)
Log Entries
Good trail. Easy to follow.
By JamesJ on 1/14/2011
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 30.00 Miles Duration: N/A

Entered the trail at 7:40am at the Creek Camp entrance on 511. There were time where I thought the scale on the trail map was really off. The prescribed burn scars were still on many of the pines and through the hike I was trying to guess when it occured. The picture on here said it was in 2007 and I guessed between 2-3 years from the amount of leaf litter and shrub brush that had grown. The pine savannas were really pretty with their clean switch grass understories. I reached the Neches Overlook at 11:20. I stopped to photograph a beaver at one of the ponds for about 15 minutes so give or take on that. The last 2 miles of the climb on the bluff had me mouth breathing but nothing strenuous. The rest of the trail is flat. The view from the overlook was anticlimatic. They obviously cleared some of the adjacent trees but, it is what it is. A view of the forest. 511-3* supposedly goes from the gravel 511 to the overlook. But you sure as hell aren't going to make it on a 2 wheel drive much less a car. The recent rain in the area had made a serious mud hole wash out of the clay road down the utility right of way. 4x4 and high wheel clearance are a minimum. I could have traversed it in my crossover but there were parts I wasn't willing to take a chance of getting stuck so far into the woods. I came to hike anyways. After an apple and muffin lunch I decided to walk back to my car via the road to save time. Being winter, the sun starts setting at 4:00pm and that would roughly be the time I'd make it back to my car if I returned on the trail. I hiked the utility line to what I thought was an extension of 511. But the line came to a dead end at a gate that didnt have a road or any sign of traffic on it for 10 years, no joke. What was there was a week old or less bulldozer path that marked the property boundary against someone elses fenced land. Well the bulldozer had to have come in somewhere so I followed it. It came out next to a gated oilpad road not marked on the map. I followed it, which DID eventually merge into 511. The map was really vague but atleast it was correct. Reached my car at 2:20pm. Nearly half the time it took to go from the car to the overlook on the trail. I was walking a little faster and on straight flat ground. Animal sightings: Fenches, Warblers, CROWS, 1 beaver, 1 buck, 3 does, Bald eagle being harassed by crows, armadillo. 1 skeleton of a coyote.

Well marked and quiet
By jlittle on 9/15/2007
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 10.00 Miles Duration: 6 hours

This was my second trip to the Four-C trail. Starting at Ratcliff lake you may encounter a few people (boy scouts probably) but few people seem to venture further out onto the Four-C.

There are some minor elevation changes but they aren't much of a challenge and they don't last long. Bridges are fairly common and well maintained.

On my first trip I found myself within twenty feet of a deer. This time we found a turtle and snake and a lot of jumping fish and frogs in the pond about 3 miles in.

There's no potable water and not much worth filtering so pack in what you think you'll need.


A decent but not exciting hike in the woods
By dsbrian on 3/9/2007
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 1star
Distance: 40.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Hiked this trail out and back over the course of 3 days. A standard forest hike, nothing exciting. Lots of scouts on the trail (spring break)Would have been better if the end at Neches overlook had actually had a scenic view of the river.
By bern0416 on 3/25/2006
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 20.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Flat. Water questionable
By rmtjr on 3/15/2006
Rating: 2stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 37.00 Miles Duration: N/A
I hiked about 37 miles on the 4C trail on Mar 13-15, 2006. The trail: Well marked. No problem following it in daylight. The northern end is different from the southern end. The northern half has more elevation changes because of the overlook. It seems more open, especially with the almost mile walk along a power line right-of-way below the bluff. Both the north and south ends could be swampy in places when there is rain. Fortunately these places are well bridged. Trying to locate myself precisely based on the trail track on the maps and relating that to the ground was hit and miss for me. Water: There is no potable water on the trail! I thought that I would use my MIOXX purifier to take care of water needs along the trail, but with only a couple of exceptions, I was suspicious of even trying to purify the water that I found. It wasn’t the brown color in the water from the pine tree tannin. The problem was stagnation in this drought season. Mileage markers: I saw mileage markers 1-4 on Monday. I think there were relatively accurately placed. I didn’t see another marker until Tuesday when I was returning from Walnut Creek Camp. This was mile post 8. I think it was too far north. I passed it an hour south of Walnut Creek Camp. That would mean that I’d traveled two miles an hour. I seriously doubt that I did that. On Wednesday I saw mile marker 12 and it was only a couple of hours for me south of the northern trail head. I know it was out of place. That would have meant I’d traveled 7+ miles from the trailhead in about two hours and I only do that in my dreams. I saw the number 13 marker Wednesday night, but I’m not sure where that was. Note: Both Mickey Little’s book and the USFS’ brochure show a primitive camping site at Walnut Creek Camp. There is a shelter and a privy here. Mickey Little’s book shows a primitive camp site at Pond Camp. The USFS’ broacher reports a shelter at Pond Camp. There is no shelter or privy at Pond Camp! The privy at Walnut Creek Camp was in sad shape. Hunters had blasted holes in the commode itself and the privy area was not much better than a trash dump. The shelter was in good shape. There were 5-6 level tent sites around the shelter. Pond Camp was just an open area frequented by hunters with the usual amount of trash that they leave. The northern trailhead is primitive. There are no improvements. There is space to camp, but I recommend protecting your campsite by placing your vehicle between your tent and the natural path for vehicles to follow. A couple of good ol’ boys were screaming down the forest roads in their pickup trucks as I was thinking about setting up camp at the northern trail head. I decided that with those kinds of folks in the area, I’d camp at the rec area and just park my car at the northern trailhead. There is secure trailhead parking at the Ratcliff Rec Area for $3.00/night.
A Walk in the Woods
By kcameron on 3/11/2006
Rating: 3point5stars Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 10.00 Miles Duration: N/A
It was a nearly perfect day to hike this trail. Much of the day was a bit overcast, and the temperatures were in the 70s. My wife and I had never hiked the Four C Trail before. Our plan was to park at the trailhead at Ratcliff Lake National Recreation Area and hike up the trail for 5 miles and then return by the same path. As we left the trailhead, we were impressed with the amount of work that had gone into building this section of the trail. However, we were glad when the Four C trail split off and left the gravel bed behind. The first 1.5 miles of the trail wind through the northern part of the Recreation Area. There is little undergrowth here. The Tall Pines Trail shares the path with the Four C trail for much of the distance until it finally veers off and heads south back into the campground. The Four C trail then heads north and crosses Forest Service Road 521. The area between the Forest Service Road and FM 227 had witnessed a prescribed burn only 4 days before, and scattered pillars of smoke still rose from the forest floor. The area north of the FM 227 is much more dense than that on the southern side. The first mile or so of the trail north of the highway follows along an old tramway bed, a survivor of the old logging days of the CCCC. At about the 4 mile mark, we crossed a little logging road that teenagers still use for parties, as evidenced by the pile of beer cans. I like this trail and would like to hike its entirety. There are mile markers located at each mile, but unless you are looking for them, they are easy to miss. Instead of lining the trail, they are usually set off the trail 10 to 20 feet, and they are set perpendicular to the trail. Luckily, I had turned backwards to check on my wife at exactly the first mile marker and I spotted the marker by chance; otherwise, I would have missed it. The bridges are in excellent shape, and the trails are well marked with white blazes. The Trail Tamers Trail uses yellow blazes while the Tall Pines Trail uses blue blazes. We took lots of pictures, and I’ve posted some here.
Nice walk in the woods
By Kim on 1/14/2006
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 4point5stars
Distance: 16.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Beautiful, well marked trail. We parked at the overlook and hiked to Pond Camp. Hunters trashed out the area, so we made our own camp not far away. We didn't see anyone else all day Saturday and only one other group of hikers on Sunday. The trail was covered in leaves and views were as good as it gets for the piney woods of East Texas. Ticks are still a problem and one must check often to ensure they don't become a problem.
Long, Thirsty Hike
By Nocona on 9/18/2002
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 24.00 Miles Duration: N/A

A friend and I had intended to hike the entire length of the trail, spending the night near the river and then returning the next day.  However, it was too hot and we were too dumb about our water supplies.  We filtered water out of a foul-looking trickle at about mid-way in the day, but it wasn't enough.  We spent a hot night at the shelter, hiked a bit more towards the river the next day, then turned back for the car. This was the thirstiest hike I've ever had, but it was due mostly to my inexperience.  I think I would have enjoyed the trail a lot more if not for this error of mine.  Take plenty of water!