Kirby Nature Trail -Big Thicket National Preserve

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.

Visitor Center

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!

Kayaking in La Jolla, CA

La Jolla California is known for crystal clear water, dramatic sea side cliffs, and its abundant wildlife. The best way to enjoy the gorgeous views and array of sea life is to go on a kayaking adventure.

If you do not own your own kayak don’t despair, there are many tourist companies in the area that you can either rent a kayak from or go on a kayaking tour with. Many of these companies offer kayaking tours through the famed sea caves as well as snorkeling adventures with leopard sharks!

Our Kayak

Brandon and I decided our next fun hobby would be kayaking and we thought that La Jolla would be the perfect place for our kayak’s maiden voyage. Our friend Jacob goes to La Jolla often and went with us to help us navigate kayaking for the first time. We have a 13 foot tandem Brooklyn Kayak. Make sure you have a certified PFD (personal Flotation Device) that is designed for Kayaking. Normal life vests go higher up on the sides and limit your arm movement. This makes it harder to paddle and can cause the undersides of your arms to be rubbed raw. Brandon and I both have Hobie kayaking PFDs.

Kayaking in La Jolla

Kayaking in la Jolla is Beautiful. The clean water is surrounded by sandy cliffs that house California Seal Lions. Next to the sea caves there is a beach cove where sunbathers love to hang out. This is also a great spot to set up if you are planning to snorkel along the cliffside. California Sea Lions often come out and swim with the snorkelers. Be aware that these are wild animals that are protected. Do not touch or feed them.

To launch your kayak you will need to go to La Jolla Shores Beach. There is a kayak and canoe launch area there. You will be launching directly into the ocean and you will need to paddle quickly to get past the waves. Brandon and I both got soaked! Several tourist companies launch from this area. Be careful to avoid them when launching. Some people will fall out of their kayaks when launching , be prepared for this! Make sure all electronics are in waterproof containers.

To Kayak to the cliffside you will need to kayak in an open ocean area. There is a swim lane that passes through the area for triathlon athletes. The area is marked by buoys. Make sure to avoid this area and to watch out for swimmers.

La Jolla Sea Life

You will get to see a lot of wildlife while kayaking in La Jolla. If you are a fan of sharks then you will want o go kayaking during leopard shark breeding season. During this time you are guaranteed to see some swimming underneath your kayak. La Jolla is also one of the best places to see the California Sea Lion.

California Sea Lion: Claifornia Sea Lines are huge marine mammals that call the clear water of La Jolla home. The females can reach 5.5 feet in length the males can reach up to 7.5 feet. Most of the California Seal Lions in La Jolla cove tend to congregate by the sea caves. As you kayak by the sea caves you will see they lounging on the rocky outcropping of the caves.

Leopard Sharks: La Jolla is also known as one of the best places to go snorkeling with Leopard Sharks! Now I know that this can sound intimidating but these beautiful creatures are a once in a lifetime sight to see. The Leopard sharks come to La Jolla in the summer and Fall to be in warmer water while they are gestating their young.

Garibaldi: These Bright orange fish are a staple of La Jolla Shores and are an easy fish to spot as your kayaking overhead.

I hope this inspires you all to go out and visit La Jolla. It is a great place to go see the wildlife and gorgeous sea shores that California has to offer. As always, stay safe and make sure to bring food, water, and your PFD. Happy Travels!