Have you ever seen a cool swampland shot in a movie and wondered what it would be like to be there? Well here is your chance to do just that! Big Thicket National Preserve is a combination of forest trails and bayou swampland that snakes in and out of several towns. The Preserve hosts lots of hiking trails as well as kayaking trails. Brandon and I went out to explore the area for a quick hiking expedition and the Kirby Nature Trail was the perfect fit.
Our first stop of the day was to the Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center. The visitor center is located at 6102 FM 420, Kountze, TX 77625. Here we walked through the informational exhibits and went through the gift shop to get some souvenirs. This is also the place to get your cancelation stamp for your National Park book. I’m obsessed with getting all of my cancelations done in my National Park book. Each cancelation stamp has the date that you visited the park so it is a great way to keep memories of your adventures.
At the visitor center you can also purchase the trail guide for the Kirby Nature Trail. I always try to get these whenever they are available because they give you additional information while completing the hike that you would otherwise have missed.
Kirby Nature Trail
I’m not going to lie….there are a lot, and I mean A LOT of mosquitos on this trail. Brandon and I both wore pants and long sleeves to protect against the buggies as well as applying bug spray multiple times throughout the hike. And they still tried to eat us alive, yuck! As long as we were walking they did not bother us too much. However, whenever we would stop to take pictures they would swarm around our heads. So moral of the story is be prepared for the bugs. Pictured below is the lovely moment when we were trying to take a picture together and a bug flew at Brandon’s head. He does not do well with bugs, haha.
However, besides the bugs the scenery is beautiful with several swampland areas that you weave in and out of while on the trail. There are two hiking options depending on preference and fitness level. There is an inner hiking loop that is only 1.5 miles. The outer Kirby Nature Trail loop is 2.5 miles. Brandon and I opted to do the outer trail loop.
When driving to the trail head from the Visitor Center you will make a left out onto the main road that runs through the park. The the trail head and parking lot are on the left about 2.5miles down the road. Make sure you look for the sign because the turn comes up quick. Brandon and I almost missed it!
Once in the parking lot follow the signs that guide you to the start of the trail. You will pass an old log cabin on the way.
The trail itself is so beautiful! Make sure to stop at each number marker along the way and read the information that responds to it in the Kirby Nature Trail Guide. When on the trail make sure you watch where your put your feet. There were tons of baby frogs and toads dotting the trail. We even saw a tiny baby snake that was thinner then one of my fingers!
My favorite part of the hike were the swamp areas. Coming from sunny California I had never gotten to seen that kind of foliage before. I learned that these are called Cypress Sloughs. Bald Cypress Trees thrive in water filled areas and fluted trunks and knees help anchor then in the wet soil. These areas are where Alligators and Water Moccasins tend to thrive so make sure you watch out for them!
The rest of the trail loops over plank bridges and the bottomland floodplain area. This area contains lots of Hickory, Oak, Sweet Gum, and River Cane foliage. If your lucky in this area you will be able to see Green Tree Frogs!
I hope you all enjoyed this post and take the time to go explore some areas in Texas! As always stay safe and Happy Travels!