Forestry Stewardship

The Forest of George W. Pirtle Scout Reservation

By Frank B. Shockley, TAF

Welcome to the beautiful, diverse forest of the George W. Pirtle (GWP) Scout Reservation, located in Panola County, Texas 15 miles southwest of Carthage, TX. 

The East Texas Area Council’s camp consists of 687 acres of pine, mixed pine & hardwood, and hardwood forests located on the shore of Lake Murvaul which can be viewed from the dining hall hill, the highest point on the south side of the lake!  Within the forest is the 8 mile Silver Circle Trail and as many miles of access roads that are easily hiked.  The trail and roads pass through every type of forest on the camp, giving glimpses into the aesthetics, health, and variety of a managed East Texas forest.  You will have the opportunity to see and camp in areas that you might not see except on old-growth national forest or park lands.  Towering pines, oaks, ash, sweetgum, and other tree species provide habitats unlike those that may be found on other forested lands.

Much of the camp is built on former cotton farms which, once abandoned for farming, reverted to their natural state, forests.  Other parts appear to have remained as forests, although timber harvests took place throughout the land’s history.  No “virgin” forests exist on the camp.  It is very likely that Native-American tribes inhabited the lands, clearing them, planting crops, and hunting the abundant native wildlife there.  Those wildlife species are still there and include white-tail deer, bobcats, raccoons, possums, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, coyote, beavers, and river otters.  Birds abound here, too.  Visitors regularly see bald eagles, osprey, great-horned owls, barred owls, pileated woodpeckers, vultures, and a great variety of small birds. Winter brings migrations of pelicans, terns, and gulls to the lake.  Reptiles and rodents are common, too.

Plan on visiting George W. Pirtle Scout Reservation, and hiking the Silver Circle Trail for a shakedown cruise before a Philmont trek or other wilderness adventure.  You’ll be challenged by the trail and its features.  Wilderness camping is allowed and encouraged.

Camp Pirtle is open year-round and we hope that you’ll plan a visit soon to camp, hike, or participate in a long-term event such as Summer Camp, Turkey Camp (Thanksgiving week), or Winter Camp (after Christmas).  When you do you’ll find an ecosystem that is easily accessible and inspiring.  Spending time in Camp Pirtle’s forest is certain to be a amazing experience for your unit!  Whatever your reason for coming, the forest of GWP will welcome and impress you.