Big Thicket National Preserve
6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625
Visitor Center and Information
Administration and Maintenance
Explore the Big Thicket: A
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
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
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
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
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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