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The Big Thicket National Preserve is one of the top places to discover the biodiversity of the United States. It is a combination of pine and cypress forest, hardwood forest, meadow, and blackwater swamp and is one of the richest bio-diverse areas in the country. If one is looking for an eco-tour while in Texas, then get a canoe and paddle through the Big Thicket.

The Big Thicket is a year-round destination with its waterways and fishing opportunities attracting people all through the year. Big Thicket is located in East Texas and is not that far from the alligator-rich bayous and swamps of Louisiana. While in Texas, visit West Texas and contrast the lush Big Thicket with the arid Big Bend National Park (and even stay the night there).

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The Big Thicket's Remarkable Biodiversity & Mosaic Of Ecosystems

The Big Thicket is a heavily forested area in Southeast Texas and is made up of mixed pine-hardwood forests. It is remarkable for its complex web of ecosystems and plant diversity.

Biologists count between eight and eleven ecosystems in the Big Thicket, with many species of plants calling the area home. According to the National Park Service, there are nine ecosystems in the Big Thicket.

Species To Be Found In The Big Thicket:

  • Vertebrates: Over 500 Species
  • Trees and Shrubs: Over 160 Species
  • Herbs and Vines: Over 800 Species
  • Flowering Plants: Over 1,000 Species
  • Grasses: 340 Types Of Grasses

There are different estimates of just how many species are in the Big Thicket, but it is a lot. So rich in life in the Big Thicket that it has been termed an American ark and the biological crossroads of North America.

  • Fact: Recognized As a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

It is not hard to see how the Big Thicket got its name, given that it has historically been the densest forested region in Texas. It is thought that Native Americans didn't live permanently in the Big Thicket (although they did hunt and live there nomadically). As the Spanish pushed into the region, they normally avoided it and routed roads around it.

The forests of the Big Thicket were dramatically reduced (and their concentration) by logging in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Unfortunately, what one sees today is but a remnant of the size that it once was.

Related: The Great Dismal Swamp, Explained: Why You Should Visit This Unique Natural Landmark

Visiting The Big Thicket National Preserve

The Big Thicket National Preserve was established in 1974 to protect the remarkable complex biological diversity. There are plenty of hiking trails and waterways that meander and make their way through the national preserve.

  • Hiking Trails: Over 40 Miles
  • Activities: Hiking, Camping, Canoeing, Kayaking, Bird-Watching
  • Fish: Catfish, Bass, Perch, Panfish
  • Bird Flyways: Central and Mississippi

On the waterways, visitors can see snapping turtles, white-tailed deer, water snakes, opossums, bullfrogs, armadillos, herons, egrets, and much more.

  • Fact: National Preserve was established in 1974

It is a convergence of ecosystems that occurred there during the last Ice Age. It is a place where eastern hardwood forests, Gulf coastal plains, and the Midwest prairies are found.

The preserve has nine land units and six water corridors. The Big Thicket National Preserve has a number of state parks and other protected areas; these include:

  • Huntsville State Park
  • Lake Houston Wilderness Park
  • Martin Dies Jr. State Park
  • Roy E. Larson Sandyland Sanctuary
  • Sam Houston National Forest
  • Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
  • Village Creek State Park

Different state parks and other units have campsites and various facilities and attractions.

The Big Thicket is also on two migratory bird flyways - the Central and the Mississippi. Come between mid-April to mid-May and enjoy excellent bird watching.

Related: Explore The Swamps With These Kissimmee Airboat Tours

Village Creek Texas State Paddling Trail

The Village Creek Paddling Trail attracts canoeists all through the year. The Village Creek State Park is part of the Big Thicket National Preserve and is located 14 miles north of Beaumont.

  • Length: 21 Miles

The Village Creek Paddling Trail is 21 miles long and has multiple access sites along it. It is a great waterway to explore the preserve - no matter if visitors are looking for an hour or a full day out (although the whole trail is too long to paddle in a day).

Village Creek Texas State Park:

  • Opening Hours: 8.00 am to 10.00 pm
  • Admission: $3 (Adults) l Children 12 and Under Are Free

It should be noted that paddling time can vary depending on the water level and the flow rate. The individual segments of the trail can be completed between 2 and 5 hours. Visitors can make it an overnight trip - overnight camping permits are free and can be gotten from the Big Ticket National Preserve Visitor Center.