Big Thicket National Preserve and Roy E Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary

Silsbee, Texas

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Big Thicket National Preserve was established as a unit of the National Park Service in 1974, the result of a long and controversial struggle between conservationists, who wanted to save one of Texas’s richest and most diverse ecosystems, and representatives of timber and oil companies, who fought the park with money and political influence. It now consists of several disjunct land areas, plus protected stretches of the Neches River and other waterways. The preserve totals almost 100,000 acres —only a fraction of the densely forested region that settlers nicknamed the Big Thicket. It’s called a preserve rather than a national park because hunting and oil and gas exploration are allowed within its boundaries. Botanists know the Big Thicket as home to twenty kinds of orchids, four kinds of carnivorous plants, and an array of other species reflecting a blend of southern bottomland woods (including the specialized wetland called baygall), pine savanna, and drier southwestern habitat. Birders know it as a place where trails, roads, and streams provide access to diverse environments and an equally varied set of birds.

Big Thicket National Preserve and Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary Professional Review and Guide

"Big Thicket National Preserve was established as a unit of the National Park Service in 1974, the result of a long and controversial struggle between conservationists, who wanted to save one of Texas’s richest and most diverse ecosystems, and representatives of timber and oil companies, who fought the park with money and political influence. It now consists of several disjunct land areas, plus protected stretches of the Neches River and other waterways.

The preserve totals almost 100,000 acres —only a fraction of the densely forested region that settlers nicknamed the Big Thicket. It’s called a preserve rather than a national park because hunting and oil and gas exploration are allowed within its boundaries. Botanists know the Big Thicket as home to twenty kinds of orchids, four kinds of carnivorous plants, and an array of other species reflecting a blend of southern bottomland woods (including the specialized wetland called baygall), pine savanna, and drier southwestern habitat. Birders know it as a place where trails, roads, and streams provide access to diverse environments and an equally varied set of birds."

Activity Type: Birding
Nearby City: Silsbee
Trail Type: Several options
Best Times: Year-round; best in spring, fall also good
Driving Directions: Directions to Big Thicket National Preserve and Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary

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May 2018