The drive from Houston, Texas turns out to be quite easy, even though I miss a turnoff and end up driving on secondary roads, past farms and large open spaces with grazing cows, until I reach Liberty. From there, scenic roads take me to Kountze, the jumping off point for my destination of the day: Big Thicket. I buy water and some things to eat, and get information at the visitor centre a couple of miles to the north, making sure to walk through the exhibition explaining the history and habitat of the preserve. Big Thicket once covered a big area in southeast Texas, but logging and the ever growing of human settlements has reduced it to a preserve consisting of 15 pockets of protected nature. I have come to hike, but it turns out to be possible to explore Big Thicket also in canoes, which sounds tempting, too. The weather is nicer than predicted, and I start going to the nearby Kirby Trail, which is a good introductory trail.
There is a group of kids with supervisors, but I manage to walk ahead of them, and experience the solitude of the forest. I find tall oaks, pine trees, cypresses, and many more. Looking lower, there are many flowers. It does not take long before I reach a slough, a swamp, in which many trees are growing. The still, dark water perfectly reflects the trunks of the trees. On my way north, I see more patches of swamps, several creeks, but not another living soul. Meanwhile, I can hear birds flying overhead, but it is hard to spot them because of the vegetation. In the visitor centre, I have seen examples of all the animals living here, but unfortunately, I cannot spot any - probably also because of my untrained eyes. Yes, there is the occasional lizard, dragonflies, and butterflies so big I sometimes think they are birds, but none of the other animals that call this home, like armadillos and bobcats.
When I reach the Village Creek, I cross to also hike the Sandhill Loop Trail. It brings me to a different kind of vegetation: I am on higher grounds here, and the soil is sand. The forest is less thick, and there are mostly pine trees towering high above me. But I do not see the yuccas I had hoped for; there are even supposed to be cacti here. I would have loved to hike the Turkey Trail, but walking it up, and down again would be way too far for one day, so I return to the Kirby Trail, and take the long loop back. I then drive to the Sundew trail, where I am on the lookout for pitcher plants, but do not find any; my next stop is the Pitcher Plant trail, which has a bog where the carnivorous plants are easily spotted. I then drive to the west of the Big Thicket preserve, where I hike down the Big Sandy trail, but after half an hour, the trail is blocked by a huge tree lying on it, and I return to the trailhead. On my way back to Kountze, there are peculiar clouds in the sky. I drive on to Neches river close to Evadale, but the sunset I hope to see over the river does not materialize because of the thick layer of clouds in the sky. It is time to give my legs some rest, and return to the big city of Houston after a day in the tranquillity of Big Thicket.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Big Thicket National Preserve (United States). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Big Thicket National Preserve. Read more about this site.