Description - In 1936 the regional study, Biological Survey of the East Texas Big Thicket Area, was completed by H.B. Parks and V.L. Cory. This report played a significant role in the future protection of the Big Thicket. It was the first effort by concerned people to document and begin a protection scheme of this unique landscape. At the time of the report, it was stated that the Big Thicket area was over one million acres in size.
Copyright: National Park Service
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 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.
The preserve headquarters are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, but closed on all government holidays. The Staley Cabin Information Station is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. The park is closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day. Please note, because the Preserve is composed of several units (land and water), one has to drive to each unit they wish to visit. The Official Map and Guide will assist greatly.
- Big Thicket National Preserve consists of nine separate land units and four water corridors, and encompasses 86,000 acres. It was established in 1974 to protect the area of rich biological diversity where the eastern hardwood forests, the southern coastal wetlands, the western prairies and the arid southwest converge. In 1981, the Preserve was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere program.
Accessibility: The Staley Cabin Information Station, the Sundew, Pitcher Plant, and Kirby Nature Trails are accessible. All picinic tables and rest rooms are wheelchair accessible.
Naturalist Program and Activities
Ranger led programs are varied and available at no charge. All programs are on a reservation only basis. To make a reservation and receive additional details, call 409-246-2337. Please allow two or more weeks to schedule the program of your choice.
Spring and Summer Programs:
* Wildflower Discovery
Learn to find and identify wildflowers in the Preserve. Length: About 2 hours, Numbers: 4 to 25 people, Ages: 8 years and up.
* Insects for Lunch!
Explore the world of insect-eating plants in the Preserve. Length: About 2 hours, Numbers: 4 to 25, Ages: 5 years and up.
Seminars and Workshops:
* Map and Compass Course
Set your fears of being lost aside. This seminar will give you the basics allowing you to practice using both a map and a compass. Length: 2 hours, Numbers: 4 to 25,
Ages: 8 years and up.
* Basic Canoeing
Canoeing basics are not that hard to learn. Join us as we introduce you to the towering cypress of the Preserve. You will need your own canoe or a rental. Length: 4hours, Numbers: 2 to 10 canoes, Ages: 8 years and up.
* Leave No Trace®
Learn basics of outdoor skills and ethics as developed by the Leave No Trace® organization. Length: 4 hours, Numbers: 4 to 20, Ages: 8 and up.
* Woodland Wonder
Explore this secluded, jungle-like section of the Big Sandy Unit in the Preserve. Distance: 5 miles, Numbers: 4 to 25, Ages: 8 and up.
* Night Prowl
You will need a flashlight to discover the "faces" behind the night voices and reflective eyes of the Preserve. Length: 2 hours, Numbers: 4 to 12, Ages: 8 and up.
* Big Thicket Tales
The early day tales of the Big Thicket are captivating. If you and your group can not join in the Preserve we will come to you. Length: 1 hour, Numbers: 4 to 20, Ages: 8 years and up.
* Turkey Creek Trek:
* Maxi or Mini Trek
A long distance, fast paced hike. Bring a lunch and lots of water. Distance: 3 or 6 miles (about a half-day), Numbers: 4 to 25, Ages: 10 and up.
* Hike the Kirby Trail
This short hike will provide you with a Big Thicket experience. A biologically diverse trail. A great primer to the Preserve. Length: 2 hours, Numbers: 4 to 25, Ages: 8
* Canoe Cooks or Franklin Lake
Bring your own canoe or a rental and enjoy one of these scenic water trips. Length: About a half-day, Numbers: 8 canoes (novices welcome), Ages: 8 and up.
* Kid's Day Out
This sensory oriented program will fill the young one with many impressions of nature and help quench their curiosity.
Length: 3 hours, Numbers: 4 to 14, Ages: 6 to 12 years
* Through The Looking Glass
Explore the wonders of Big Thicket up close.
Length: 2 hours, Numbers: 4 to 18, Ages: 5 to 12
* Kid's Wilderness Survival
Lost children need not be! This program shows youngsters how to avoid becoming lost and how to act if they do. Parents learn how they can prepare their young ones
for a trek in the woods. Length: 2 hours, Numbers: 4 to 20, Ages: 5 to 12.
Advanced Workshops for You:
Big Thicket National Preserve staff offer workshops in a variety of subject areas. We can provide training in photography, birding, advanced canoeing, backpacking, outdoor safety, day hiking and others. We can modify programs to meet your needs and come to your location (within our area of operations). We require a minimum of 8 participants. To schedule an advance workshop call 409-246-2337 for personal arrangements.
Recreation - 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 in specific areas is authorized by a Preserve issued permit, accompanied by a valid State of Texas Hunting License, from October to mid-January.
Climate - An average rainfall of 55 inches is well distributed throughout the year. Summers are warm and humid with daytime temperatures between 85 and 95 degrees fahrenheit with peaks to100 or more. Moderate temperatures in the mid 50s to 60s are normal for winter. Spring and fall are very enjoyable and are the most pleasant seasons for outdoor activities. Wear comfortable outdoorwear, wear a broad brimmed hat, wear walking shoes, and carry rain gear.
To reach the park, Enter Beaumont, Texas, via Interstate 10 and then take U.S. Highway 69-287 north from Beaumont. Seven miles north of Kountze, Texas, take FM 420 east for 2.5 miles to the Information Station for your personal orientation.
Please also note: AmTrak and Commerical Bus transportation are available in Beaumont, Texas.