On our way down to Port Arthur this weekend, we stopped to visit the Big Thicket National Preserve Visitors Center, which is the starting point to the Big Thicket National Preserve for hiking, fishing, hunting and primitive camping.
1. Know Before You Go
The Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor’s Center is a great place to stop and learn more about the BTNP, either before or after a camping trip, hiking trip or day visit!
The Visitor’s Center is FREE.
Open Daily from 9am – 5pm, except major holidays.
FREE access permits can be obtained at the BTNPVC for camping and hunting. Permits are not required for day use hiking on the trails.
2. Your Visit
More than just a restroom stop on the road, the Center offers educational displays of the Big Thicket National Preserve, which is part of the National Parks System, and consist of over 112,000 acres in 15 different units.
Interpretive exhibits include 3 rooms of displays of life in the Big Thicket, and the unique plants and animals that thrive here, such as this carniverous pitcher plant, one of our favorites!
More ancient than the dinosaurs, the paddlefish is the “oldest surviving animal species in North American”, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. The exhibit gives you a first hand view of these amazing fish, who are considered threatened in Texas and it is unlawful to catch, harm or kill them.
Native to the Eastern United States, they have been found as far west as the Trinity River. They prefer deep, slow moving rivers.
5. The Neches River
The Neches is the largest waterway in the Big Thicket National Preserve, and offers visitors excellent opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and fishing along it’s waterways. The staff at BTNPVC can help you find the best places to launch and take out your canoes/kayaks.
Another popular paddling destination in the BTNP is Village Creek.
Eastex Canoe Rentals offers canoe and kayak rentals and shuttle services for both the Lower Neches River and Village Creek. Click HERE for more information.
6. Hiking Trails
Pick up a map of the various hiking trails in the Big Thicket National Preserve at the Visitor’s Center. The Big Sandy Horse Trail is the only trail that is also open to horses and bicyclist.
Big Thicket National Preserve Visitors Center
6102 FM 420, Kountze
Click HERE to visit their website