Big Thicket National Preserve

Big Thicket National Preserve

Quick Facts

Big Thicket National Preserve

Texas

(409) 951-6700

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The Big Thicket National Preserve consists of nine land units and six water corridors encompassing more than 97,000 acres. Big Thicket was the first Preserve in the National Park System established October 11, 1974, and protects an area of rich biological diversity. A convergence of ecosystems occurred here during the last Ice Age. It brought together, in one geographical location, the eastern hardwood forests, the Gulf coastal plains, and the midwest prairies. December 15, 1981, the Preserve was designated an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program. July 26, 2001, the American Bird Conservancy recognized the Preserve as a Globally Important Bird Area joining thousands of others around the world. The Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center is open daily 9:00AM to 5:00PM, closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. The visitor center provides many opportunities to discover the rich diversity of resources found in the Preserve. The visitor center eatures the interactive Discovery Station, which interprets many different aspects of fire ecology and fire-fighting. Visitors can also look through a microscope at a feather or insect wing, see how a river ecosystem functions, see models of venous snakes, and learn more about the diversity of the Big Thicket. Two films are also available to learn more about the resource. Visitors can enjoy bird watching, hiking, biking, and other recreational activities.

Map of Big Thicket

Latitude, Longitude: 30.251331, -94.428145

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Activities

  • Boating

    Boating activities abound in the Preserve. Village Creek is a beautiful area for canoeists and kayakers to take ½-day, full day, and overnight trips. Winding from Steinhagen Lake south to the Gulf of Mexico, the Neches River offers miles of recreation for boaters. Canoeists and kayakers may also want to explore the many lakes and bayous along the river. Local outfitters rent equipment, provide shuttles, and lead guided trips.

  • Bird Watching

    Big Thicket National Preserve lies in the path of two major migratory bird flyways. Bird migration peaks between March and early May. Approximately 185 bird species either live here year-round or migrate through. Dense vegetation can make it difficult to see birds here; persistence and a good ear for bird calls are very helpful. The more sought after birds are the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, the Brown-leaded Nuthatch, and Bachman's Sparrow; the Sundew Trail tends to be a good place to see the nuthatches and a number of other bird species.

  • Bicycling

    Bicycles are allowed only on the Big Sandy Creek Trail in the Big Sandy Creek Unit. This trail is approximately 18 miles round-trip. This trail is closed to biking during hunting season.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Visitors can drive on any paved road throughout the preserve.

  • Camping

    There are no developed campgrounds or campsites within Big Thicket National Preserve. Several preserve units are open for backpacking. Campsites must be set up at least 200 feet from roads, trails, and unit boundaries, and at least 100 feet from water. Camping is also allowed on sandbars along Village Creek and the Neches River; campsites may be located within 25 feet of the water on these sandbars. A free Backcountry Use Permit is required for all camping and must be obtained at the Preserve visitor center.

  • Fishing

    Fishing is allowed along all waterways within the Preserve. Fishermen must have a valid state fishing license and comply with all state fishing regulations.

  • Hiking

    There are eight trails in the Preserve, ranging from several ½-mile loops to an 18-mile loop. Some are wheelchair-accessible. High temperatures and humidity during the summer can make hiking very unpleasant; hike only during the early morning or late afternoon hours during the summer to avoid the worst of these conditions. Some trails are closed to hikers and backpackers during hunting season.

  • Horseback Riding

    Horseback riding is allowed only on the Big Sandy Creek Trail in the Big Sandy Creek Unit. This trail is approximately 18 miles round-trip. There are no stables in the area, so riders must bring their own stock. This trail is closed to horseback riding during hunting season.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is allowed on six of the preserve's 15 units. Hunters must get a free hunting permit from the Preserve visitor center prior to hunting, and must also have a state hunting license and any required stamps. Federal and State of Texas laws regulate all hunting within the preserve. Contact the preserve for more information.

  • Picnicking

    Picnicking is encouraged. Please be considerate of local wildlife and other visitors; do not litter.

  • Water Sports

    Boating activities abound in the Preserve. Village Creek is a beautiful area for canoeists and kayakers to take ½-day, full day, and overnight trips. Winding from Steinhagen Lake south to the Gulf of Mexico, the Neches River offers miles of recreation for boaters. Canoeists and kayakers may also want to explore the many lakes and bayous along the river. Local outfitters rent equipment, provide shuttles, and lead guided trips.

Seasonality/Weather

Rain, heat, and humidity are typical. An average rainfall of 55 inches is well distributed throughout the year. Summers are hot and humid with daytime temperatures between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Moderate temperatures in the mid-50s are normal for winter. Spring and fall are the most pleasant seasons for outdoor activity.

Directions

Driving

Enter Beaumont, Texas, via Interstate 10 and then take U.S. Highway 69-287 north from Beaumont. Eight miles north of Kountze, Texas, take FM 420 east and follow the signs to the visitor center.

Flying

The Southeast Texas Regional Airport, near Beaumont, Texas, has commercial airline service. Houston, Texas, about 100 miles from the preserve, has two major airports served by a number of major airlines.

Public Transportation

Amtrak and commercial bus transportation are available in Beaumont, Texas.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(409) 951-6700

Links