The Lone Star State offers so many wonderful vacation destinations that it is hard to pick one. The opportunities for outdoor recreation, visiting historical sites or enjoying nightlife in any of the big Texas cities are abundant. However, if you love paddling, hiking and birding, one of the best places to go is Big Thicket National Preserve in east Texas.
This is an important stop if you love birding. The preserve exists on two bird migratory flyways. You will discover all sorts of incredible bird hot spots in the Big Thicket area. Watch for brown-leaded nuthatches, Bachman’s sparrows and songbirds and waterfowl. This list is long. You may see some herons at Collin’s Pond or some raptors at Cook’s Lake. Definitely check out Kirby Nature Trail where the variety of birds is amazing. Catch sight of vireos, woodpeckers and warblers. Just below the Steinhagen Reservoir at McQueen’s Landing you will likely see a bald eagle (or more than one) during the winter months.
Another favorite activity in Big Thicket National Preserve is to paddle on the Neches River. Those who love to get out on the water in a canoe or kayak love this lovely river. Another place where you can boat or fish is on Village Creek. This is a designated paddling trail. You can fish on any of the lakes or bayous along the river as long as you have a valid fishing license.
There are no developed campgrounds within Big Thicket but you will find plenty of RV camping in nearby communities. In Silsbee, you’ll find Red Cloud RV Park where you will find extra special amenities to make your visit incredible. After you are settled in, plan on getting in some hiking. There are eight trails which range from easy to more challenging hikes. Turkey Creek Trail is fifteen miles along Turkey Creek through pine uplands and forests. Pitcher Plant Trail is a short one over a convenient boardwalk. Take a look at the numerous pitcher plants growing here and the other flora.
View a wide range of habitats when you take the Woodlands Trail, in the northern Big Sandy Creek Unit of the preserve. There are three loops all of different distances. Choose the one that fits your style for the day. For a nice walk along a 1.5-mile loop, take the Beaver Slide Trail. You will see some small ponds that were formed by beavers building their dams.
You can move around the region a bit to visit other great Texas parks such as Village Creek State Park where you can picnic, hike or study nature. Make your way over to Martin Dies Jr. State Park to find great paddling trails to explore the backwaters. Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary is a paradise of nature with numerous species of plants and animals.
Before leaving for home, drop south to visit Beaumont, Texas. You are so close and you wouldn’t want to miss the fine Texas Cajun cooking you can find here. There are museums, shops and friendly folk. Texas has never been better!