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Big Thicket National Preserve

Big Thicket National Preserve - BEST Places to Picnic

6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625

Visitor Center and Information
(409) 951-6725
Administration and Maintenance
(409) 951-6700

Explore the Big Thicket: A Biological Crossroads

Strands of sun, soil, and air are woven into a beautifully connected patchwork of plants and animals. The last Ice Age pushed plants from other parts of the country into a close neighborhood. An amazing diversity of plants and animals from many parts of North America live in the Big Thicket region of southeastern Texas.

Plan Your Visit

The 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.


Activities include: Auto Touring, Backpacking, Biking, Bird Watching, Boating, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Interpretive Programs, Kayaking, Nature Walks, Stargazing, Swimming, Trapping and Wildlife Viewing

Hiking is available year-round though it is warm and humid during the summer months. Wildflower viewing is best from March to October. The Preserve is on two migratory flyways: the Central and Mississippi. Bird watching is excellent from mid-April to mid-May and less active during the fall. Boating, canoeing, fishing can be enjoyed from April to October. Hunting specific areas is authorized by a Preserve issued permit, accompanied by a valid State of Texas Hunting License, from late September/early October to mid-January. Trapping in specific areas is authorized by a Preserved issued permit, accompanied by a valid State of Texas Trapping License, during the months of December and January.

Places to Picnic

  • Beech Woods Trail
  • Big Sandy Trail
  • Big Thicket Visitor Center
  • Broad Oak Drive
  • Cooks Lake Road
  • Evadale Launch
  • Environmental Education Center
  • Holly Grove
  • Martin Dies Jr. State Park
  • McQueens Landing
  • Neches River Launch
  • Neches Bottom and Jack Gore Baygall
  • Pitcher Plant Trail
  • Sundew Trail
  • Turkey Creek
  • Turkey Creek Trail
  • Village Creek State Park
  • Woodland Trails


Some 40 years after the Biological Survey, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that created the Big Thicket National Preserve. The legislation was signed by President Gerald Ford in October 1974 establishing the first National Preserve in the National Park System. 

The Preserve is composed of land and water units. In 1993, legislation was passed to expand the Preserve incorporating creek corridors and additional land areas. Today, the National Park Service manages over 97,000 acres of public lands in what was the original Big Thicket surveyed by Parks and Cory.

Further recognition of the Big Thicket biological diversity came from the United Nations UNESCO Man and the Biosphere program. In 1981 Big Thicket National Preserve was added to the list of International Biosphere Reserves. The United States Man and the Biosphere (USMAB) program, a voluntary program, requires no special programs, management techniques, obligations, or changes in ownership. 

Program support comes through the U.S. Department of State. There are 47 USMAB sites in the United States. The Man and the Biosphere program is beneficial because it provides a wider reach of scientific knowledge made available through the international scientific community. 

On July 26, 2001, the American Bird Conservancy designated Big Thicket National Preserve a Globally Important Bird Area (IBA). We join many other IBAs throughout the world in our joint efforts to conserve wild birds and their habitats.

The Big Thicket -- lands richly diverse in biological resources -- some of the richest diversity in North America. Natural processes have influenced the region over the millennium. The last Ice Age brought a character change on the natural systems found here. 

The cold environment "pushed" or encouraged species to move from separate ecological systems into a close "neighborhood." Today, species from the Gulf Coastal Plains, Eastern Forests, and Central Plains share space with species indicative of swamps and bayous. 

Baldcypress swamps are a short distance from upland pine savannahs and sandhills. Roadrunners watch eastern bluebirds fly to and from their nests in nearly trees.

When you visit the Big Thicket, there will be no grand vistas or majestic mountain ranges to tantalize your eyes. However, you will see, when you choose to look closely around you, a unique assemblage of species--some endangered or threatened. This is the place called The Big Thicket.

Did You Know?
Tourism in the Big Thicket area dates back to 1845. A spa located in Sour Lake, catered to the likes of Sam Houston and sold the "sour" water to tourists.

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