The coolest part about east TX is the Piney woods. Most of the time you don't have to have shoes. East TX and West TX are tied, in my book. They both offer something drastically different. I love the Bandera State Natural Area. We try to go at least once every 1-2 years and stay the weekend. I skip the shoes and go straight for easy boots since the place is nothing but rocks but low and behold there are views that will take your breath away. Plus the natural springs are GREAT to climb in with or without your horse to cool off. They offer trails for every level - very flat and basic to very challenging and technical. I take every green colt I start to that place for the boost of confidence it gives them.
There are group campsites there - some are primitive (with a barn and stalls at some sites) some have w/e hookups, too. There is a lodge that I've stayed at (sleeps like 12) and has a full furnished kitchen, bath - furniture, etc and is private with an arena and stalls/paddocks - that would be a GREAT group gathering place.
Something else to look into for our first initial gathering!
Anyone ever ridden up by the Llano Estacado area?