The Big Thicket National Preserve, managed by the National Park Service, was created to protect the complex biological diversity of a once-vast combination of pine and cypress forest, hardwood forest, meadow, and blackwater swamp. This unique area is created by the confluence of the southwest deserts, central plains, eastern forests, and southeastern swamps, where changes in elevation of a few feet can produce a dramatic change in vegetation.
The biological diversity includes eighty-five tree species, more than sixty shrubs, twenty-six ferns, twenty orchids, and four carnivorous plants. Some 186 species of birds live here or migrate through, and there are fifty reptile species. The preserve includes twelve scattered units covering 97,550 acres, and there are eight hiking trails, varying in length from about a mile up to 18 miles. The Woodlands Trail crosses a great variety of habitats, including the Big Sandy Creek floodplain and dense stands of hardwood.
© Melissa Gaskill/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.