Top Ten Parks for Spring

  |  Gorp.com
Only-in-springtime view: Warblers in their breeding plumage
Activities: Canoeing, hiking, bird-watching, wildlife viewing, fishing

Big Thicket is deliriously biodiverse. The last Ice Age forced species from four different biological systems to collect into one small area. Southeastern swamps, eastern forests, central plains, and southwestern deserts all converge here, and odd juxtapositions are everywhere — magnolias blooming next to cacti, hardwood forest abutting cypress sloughs. The area is home to an A to Z of walking, flying, and creeping creations: armadillos, alligators, panthers and bobcats, snakes, and a formidable array of insects. Early springs maintains your serenity, unlike summer's mosquitoes and biting flies, and fall and winter hunters.

Hiking is an option. The preserve has many trails and boardwalks. But look at a map. The preserve stretches along the Neches River. Ditch the hiking books and clamber aboard a canoe to really experience Big Thicket. You don't have to be a daredevil. The river is slow and lazy: no rapids, no obstructions. You can be gone for a day or a week, camping on sandbars, waking to the sound of songbirds.

For April, especially, is songbird season in south Texas. Newly returned from their winter sojourn south of the border and in their dandy breeding plumage, at least 15 species of warblers tweet in the thickets of Big Thicket. If you're a bird-watcher, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not, still try your darnedest to get hold of a good pair of binoculars. Don't get obsessed with identification. Instead, just watch, listen, and enjoy.

More on Big Thicket National Preserve


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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