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Big Thicket National Preserve

The preserve's thicket of woods resulted from the unusual intermixing of elements from four major habitats—Southeastern swamps, Eastern forests, Central plains and the Appalachians. Within the remnants of this once-vast wilderness is an uncommon mix of plants and animals—Eastern bluebirds nest near road runners, and lush bogs border cactus- and yucca-dotted sandhills.

Big Thicket includes nine land units and six water corridors. Only the Turkey Creek, Beech Creek, Big Sandy and Hickory Creek Savannah units have hiking trails. The Big Sandy Creek Trail is a favorite for biking and horseback riding. Most other units include visitor day-use areas near unit boundaries. Walking is the best way to see the preserve, which offers trails varying in length from .5 to 18 miles. Naturalist programs are offered throughout the year. Another popular activity is canoeing on the Neches River, Pine Island Bayou and Village Creek.

Administered by the Nature Conservancy, the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary, in Hardin County off SR 327, offers numerous trails where nature lovers can view flora and fauna indicative of both desert and bog; phone (409) 385-0445.

The Big Thicket Visitor Center is about 7 miles north of Kountze at the junction of US 69 and FM 420. Picnicking is permitted. Allow 1 hour minimum. Park open dawn-dusk. Visitor center open daily 9-5; closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission free. Phone (409) 951-6700.

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