Welcome to the audio-described version of Big Thicket Natioanl Preserve's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Big Thicket visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 31 minutes which we have divided into 25 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 3-15 cover the front of the brochure and sections 16-26 cover the back of the brochure.
Big Thicket National Preserve, located in Texas, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. The 113,000-acre park is situated 30 miles north of Beaumont at the edge of Texas and Lousiana. This park, established in 1974, is the first national preserve in the National Park system. Each year, 300,000 of visitors come to enjoy the unique experiences that only can be had at Big Thicket. We invite you to explore the park's biological diversity by exploring the preserve on foot, water or in a car. For those seeking to learn more about the park during their visit, more information can be found at the Big Thicket Visitor Center. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.
DESCRIBING: Banner picture, rectangular in shape, 16.5 inches by 4 inches, spanning the top of the unigrid. The bottom of the picture fades into the rest of brochure.
DESCRIPTION: An abundant cluster of vegetation surrounds a peaceful body of water that is calm enough to show a reflection of the mixture of green leafy trees and thick underbrush of plant growth. Above, there is a small patch of sky with clouds.
The Big Thicket once sprawled over 3.5 million acres of southeast Texas. Today Big Thicket National Preserve protects 15 remnant areas—over 112,000 acres—with nine habitats. Multiple habitats, and the fact that species from other regions converge to co-exist here, account for this biological preserve’s remarkable diversity of animals and plants.
In Big Thicket you won’t find a high peak, deep gorge, or other dramatic feature. You will find instead a surprising lushness and density of life. Big Thicket is not a place to hurry through, but a place to discover and to explore.
DESCRIBING: 3 inch by 2.5 inch photograph of pine trees.
DESCRIPTION: This photo is dominated by tree trunks of varying thicknesses. The forest floor is blanketed with reddish-brown pine needles, sparse and open with few shrubs and grasses. In the distance, entire trees are visible from bottom to top, showing their tall, slender appearance with outward branches and green foliage. Some of the larger pines show marks of black burn scars from fires.
CREDIT: LAURENCE PARENT
Native longleaf pines prefer this well-drained soil, but logging and decades of suppressing fire nearly destroyed the species. Preserve staff promotes longleaf pine recovery by planting seedlings and conducting controlled burns to maintain this fire-adapted habitat.
DESCRIBING: 3 inch by 2.5 inch photograph of trees.
DESCRIPTION: In the foreground of the picture, the smooth gray bark of the beech tree is partially covered with greenish lichen and moss. The forest floor reveals a gentle downward slope. The background is a dense canopy of green leaves.
CREDIT: LAURENCE PARENT
Beech, magnolia, and loblolly pine favor this well-drained habitat. Dense canopies of leaves and needles shade the forest floor, discourage shrub growth, and give the forest its open, parklike appearance. It’s not the scenery you would expect to find in a “big thicket.”
IMAGE 1 of 2: Cactus
DESCRIBING: 4.5 by 2.5 image, fading into the background of the brochure.
DESCRIPTION: The focal points of the picture are two bright yellow cup-shaped flowers, sprouting from green finger-like bulbs attached to the top of the cactus. There are four additional bulbs with smaller blooms. The main pad of the cactus is covered in toothpick-sized needles.
CAPTION: Prickly pear cactus
IMAGE 2 of 2: Bird
DESCRIBING: 4.5 inch by 3.5 inch color drawing of roadrunner.
DESCRIPTION: A profile of a roadrunner, standing with brown and white folded wings and a long brown tail projecting outward almost as long the body of the bird. On its head is a crest of spiky feathers. Its gray beak is closed. Adjacent to its small dark eye is a small white patch. The brown and white speckled neck fades into a white underbelly above spindly black legs.
CREDIT: BRIAN CRESSMAN
Ancient seas and stream currents deposited sand here, forming dunes and sandhills. Sandy soil, hot sun, and rapid drainage create good habitat for prickly pear cacti and the roadrunner, who is more often associated with arid lands. Yucca also grows here, another plant more generally associated with arid lands.
DESCRIBING: 4 inch by 2 inch photo of a pitcher plant.
IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The Pitcher plant is shown in the foreground of the picture, against a blurry, green background suggesting plant stems and grasses. Only the main body of the plant is pictured; the base and stem are unseen. It is a bright-green, elongated receptacle resembling a champagne flute, about 6 inches tall and roughly half an inch in diameter, covered with faint, slender reddish-brown veins. A single wide, flat leaf attached to the edge of the opening hangs over the plant's tube-like entrance.
CAPTION: Pitcher plant
CREDIT: NPS / JOHN DAWSON
A layer of hardpan clay does double duty in this habitat. It can hold surface water for months or block groundwater from rising during dry spells. Pine trees poke long taproots through the clay layer. Carnivorous plants live here, getting vital nitrogen—which this soil lacks—by eating insects.
IMAGE 1 of 3: Yellow flowers
DESCRIBING: 1 inch by 1 inch color drawing of yellow bladderwort flowers.
DESCRIPTION: The bladderwort's yellow flowers sit atop a slender stem, floating on top of blue water. Underneath, clusters of tiny pods connect to the plant's main stem.
CREDIT: NPS / JOHN DAWSON
IMAGE 2 of 3: Purple flowers
DESCRIBING: 1 inch by 1 inch color drawing of purple butterwort flowers.
DESCRIPTION: The butterwort's purple flowers, each with five petals, sit atop straight slender stems that connect to broad taco-shaped green leaves.
CREDIT: NPS / JOHN DAWSON
IMAGE 3 of 3: White flowers
DESCRIBING: 1 inch by 1 inch color drawing of white sundew flowers.
DESCRIPTION: A sundew's white flowers, with 5 petals each, sit atop delicate stems, connected to red leaves with tiny red globules attached.
CREDIT: NPS / JOHN DAWSON
Of the five species of carnivorous plants in the United States, four grow here: bladderwort, butterwort, sundew, and pitcher plant. They favor nitrogen-poor soils of the wetland pine savannah. Both pitcher plants and sundews have sticky globules that insects mistake for drops of dew. Touching the liquid, an insect will find itself stuck fast.
IMAGE 1 of 3: Multicolored bird.
DESCRIBING: 1 inch by 1 inch color photo of painted bunting.
DESCRIPTION: Profile of a standing painted bunting with brilliant splashes of color. It has a blue head, light gray beak, black eye with red outline, red breast and green-blue wings folded in with a light blue tail.
CAPTION: Painted bunting.
CREDIT: MILLARD H. SHARP.
IMAGE 2 of 3: Red bird.
DESCRIBING: 1 inch by 1 inch color photo of a male cardinal.
DESCRIPTION: A vibrant red male cardinal, standing with folded wings, pointed crest, black mask, red beak, and small brown legs.
CREDIT: JOYCE GROSS.
IMAGE 3 of 3: Large green leaves.
DESCRIBING: 3 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch color photo of a palmetto leaf.
DESCRIPTION: A fan-shaped leaf of the palmetto consisting of over 30 connected elongated dagger-like blades.
CAPTION: Dwarf palmetto palm’s fan-shaped fronds.
The dwarf palmetto palm’s fan-shaped fronds, give a tropical feel to this hardwood forest’s dense understory. Watch for armadillos, who put on surprising bursts of speed despite their short legs.
DESCRIBING: 3 inch by 3 inch color photo of bald cypress tree trunks.
DESCRIPTION: Three large bald cypress tree trunks, thickly covered in dark green moss, are deeply ridged at the base and become narrow and smoother towards the top. Around the base of the trees are small green leafy shrubs.
CREDIT: LAURENCE PARENT.
Bald cypress trees love water. Their fluted trunk and knees—woody protrusions growing up from the roots—help anchor them in wet soil. Water moccasins thrive in swampy areas near streams. In season, tree frogs raise their loud chorus to attract a mate.
IMAGE 1 of 2: Trail through trees.
DESCRIBING: 3 inch by 3 inch color photo of a trail in the forest.
DESCRIPTION: A narrow dirt path cuts through a lush green forest floor beneath an emerald-green canopy of different species of trees.
CREDIT: LAURENCE PARENT.
IMAGE 2 of 2: Bobcat.
DESCRIBING: 2 inch by 2 inch color photo of a bobcat.
DESCRIPTION: A profile photo of a bobcat with the head and slanting eyes turned towards the viewer. Small triangular ears stand up from its rounded head, long white whiskers protrude from either side of the closed mouth, and its back and sides are covered with a beige coat with faint markings. Its legs and belly have prominent spots, including a distinctive black spot at the end of its short and stubby tail.
CREDIT: ANTHONY MERCIECA.
Plants that can tolerate both dry spells and episodes of flooding grow here: sweet gum, hickory, oak, and river cane, a native bamboo. When streams flood, water may stand on the land surface for a time rather than draining.
DESCRIBING: 3 inch by 3 inch color photo of a baygall.
DESCRIPTION: A pool of standing water, perfectly reflecting the surrounding cypress trees and green shrubbery, with sunlight peeping through.
CREDIT: LAURENCE PARENT.
An underlying clay layer traps water in poorly drained depressions called baygalls or acid bogs. Tannin from rotting plants colors the water like coffee or root beer. Tangled vines, the calls of unseen birds, and aquatic animals add to Big Thicket’s mystique.
DESCRIBING: 3 inch by 3 inch color photo of a snowy egret.
DESCRIPTION: Against a gray sky, a pure white snowy egret photographed in flight, showing its long pointed black beak, yellow patch next to the eye, outstretched wings with long feathers, and black legs.
CAPTION: Snowy egret.
CREDIT: ARTHUR MORRIS / BIRDS AS ART.
Below the saltwater barrier lie marshes, streams with tidal influence, and estuaries where salt and fresh waters mix as brackish water. Estuaries, crucial nursery areas, protect the young of shrimp and other species before they move into deep water.
IMAGE 1 of 4: Frog.
DESCRIBING: 1.5 inch by 2.5 inch color photo of a green tree frog.
DESCRIPTION: A small green tree frog is tucked upright into a nook between two green stems. The frog and stems are the same hue and the frog's eyes are bright red with a black pupil.
CAPTION: Green tree frog.
IMAGE 2 of 4: Armadillo.
DESCRIBING: 2.5 inch by 1.5 inch color photo of an armadillo.
DESCRIPTION: This is a side-view photo of an armadillo with an elongated head, long snout, ears, and small black eyes. It has stubby legs and blades of grass cover the tail. Its body has a rough scaly appearance, and, in the middle, there are nine overlapping plates that look like armor.
CREDIT: CHARLIE HEIDECKER / VISUALS UNLIMITED.
IMAGE 3 of 4: Pink flower.
DESCRIBING: 2 inch by 2 inch photo of a pink orchid.
DESCRIPTION: This is a close-up photo of a hot pink flower with three oval-shaped petals and two slightly larger protector petals, known as sepals. In the middle of the orchid, there is a tall protruding column, known as a labellum, dusted with yellow pollen.
CAPTION: Bearded grass pink orchid.
CREDIT: ROBERT MITCHELL.
IMAGE 4 of 4: Boy and canoes.
DESCRIBING: 7 inch by 4 inch color photo of a boy and canoes.
DESCRIPTION: A young boy stands on the bank of a river. He is dark haired, light skinned, wearing only a pair of blue shorts, and holding his hands behind his back. Beside him are two red canoes on the left and the front of a canoe is on his right. There is a hazy reflection on the river of green shrubbery, sandy soil and the gray sky on the far bank.
The Preserve offers you a diverse mix of recreation. Rivers and creeks host canoeing, boating, kayaking, and fishing. Birders delight in this hotspot for adding species to their life lists. Hunters pursue white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, feral hogs, and waterfowl. Visitors can explore over 40 miles of hiking trails, backpack in to remote areas, or learn more about the Preserve on ranger-led programs. You may even find one of the Preserve’s 20 species of wild orchids or come across evidence of its rich history and cultural heritage.
You can walk where great forests once stood until commercial logging began in the 1800s and drilling for oil began in 1901. In 1877 a news reporter complained: . . . we have to get down on our hands and knees to crawl through the thick, close-knitted growth of baygall bushes and canebrakes. Yellow pines five and six feet in diameter grew here then, and the Big Thicket harbored many black bears, panthers, wolves, and now-extinct ivory-billed woodpeckers. Precious few panthers remain. Black bears might one day return, from those reintroduced in Louisiana.
Follow the footsteps of the Atakapans and Caddos who lived on the edges of the thicket before European contact. Earlier cultures left little trace. Atakapans, hunter-gatherers, took mussels, fish, birds, and deer. Caddos hunted and grew squash, corn, and beans. In their large villages they built big earthen mounds for ceremonies and burials. Later, Coushatta Indians pushed west by American expansion settled in Texas but suffered as Europeans and Americans vied for control. Alabama Indians later joined the Coushattas
on the reservation whose name they now share. See the land where English and French settlers from east of Texas attempted cotton plantations—but all failed before the mid-1800s. Boomtowns later cropped up around lumber mills, but as logging played out they faded into the Thicket. Oil exploration replayed the boom-and-bust cycle but is still active, and you can see modern innovations as you explore the Big Thicket.
Some popular areas are listed here, but these are just the beginning. There are nine land and six water units to explore. You can walk in dark, quiet forest, float a cool creek, watch a plant catch a bug, hear the echoing tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker, or smell the wildflowers. Take your time and reconnect with nature as you experience the Big Thicket.
Turkey Creek Unit: With trails from 0.25 to 15 miles long, Turkey Creek is the best unit for experiencing biodiversity. From its sandhills to floodplains, upland to lowlands, you can explore the mosaic of habitats that is the Big Thicket.
Hickory Creek Savannah: Grassy flatlands with depression that hold water create the longleaf pine uplands and wetland savannahs here. Short trails take you among insect-eating pitcher plants and circle through the forest. Listen for birds along the trail.
Village Creek Corridor: Village Creek is a popular paddling trail: See coffee-colored waters in forests and sloughs.
Beaumont Unit: You will find great paddling and fishing here. Water surrounds the area: fresh above the saltwater barrier and brackish (salty) below.
Big Sandy Creek Unit: Horses and bicycles are allowed on Big Sandy Trail. On Woodlands Trail you see beech, magnolia, and loblolly pine forests and floodplain hardwoods. Beaver Slide Trail winds around ponds that are formed by beaver dams.
Beech Creek Unit: On Beech Woods Trail you go through slope forest, seeing evidence of the power of hurricanes and the resilience of the vegetation. Take the old logging road past the trailhead to see forest recovering after years of clear-cutting and impacts from pine bark beetles—succession in action. Watch for flying squirrels and for orchids.
Neches River Corridor: The upper Neches meanders through pine and hardwood forests. A remote 54-mile section downstream meanders through cypress swamps. Sandbars are popular campsites for overnight canoe or kayak trips.
Menard Creek Corridor: Menard Creek flows through upland forest, cypress sloughs, and acid bogs. Birdwatchers Trail leads to a bluff above the Trinity River. Watch for shore birds on sandbars and raptors like hawks and eagles.
Lance Rosier Unit: This area honors naturalist Lance Rosier, who devoted his life to saving the Big Thicket. Since pioneer days many had considered the palmetto hardwood flats here the heart of the Big Thicket.
DESCRIBING: 23 inch x 16.5 inch map of Big Thicket National Preserve.
SYNOPSIS: The map provides a general orientation to the park, showing the distribution of park lands, roads, towns, and visitor amenities.
IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The purpose of this map is to guide visitors around the Big Thicket region, providing information about access points for a variety of recreational opportunities. The map is oriented toward north at the top. This map represents 7 counties, 15 different areas of park land, roadways, waterways and cities covering over 2,870 square miles. The map legend contains icons that represent different amenities, types of public land, roadways, scale, compass rose, and a small map of Texas, showing that Big Thicket is in the southeast corner of the state.
HEADING: Big Thicket Region.
The Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center and Headquarters is located in the center of the map, at the intersection of Highway 69 287 and Farm to Market Road 420. The Visitor Center is eight miles north of Kountze, the closest town. Highway 69 287 runs north-south for the entirety of the map and is also known as the Big Thicket National Preserve Parkway, serving as the main corridor for the area. From north to south, it travels through the cities of Woodville, Warren, Kountze, Lumberton and Beaumont. Beaumont is the largest metropolitan area in the region, where many roadways including Interstate 10 meet. Twenty-four miles north of the visitor center is Highway 190, which runs east-west, serving as the northern edge of the Big Thicket region. Thirty miles south of the visitor center is Highway 90, which runs east-west and serves as the southern edge. The region is bounded by the Neches River in the east and the Trinity River in the west; both rivers flow from north to south. There is no discernable topography in the region except for gentle hills on the northern fourth of the map starting around Woodville.
HEADING: Park Units.
Big Thicket has 15 different separate sections of park land called "units."
Closest to the visitor center is the Turkey Creek Unit, a long slender unit that follows the course of Turkey Creek. It is located east and north of the visitor center. It features the majority of the designated hiking trails and picnic areas in the preserve.
Hickory Creek Savannah Unit is located north of the visitor center, west of the Big Thicket Parkway. It features a short hiking trail, which is ADA accessible and a picnic area.
Village Creek Corridor Unit is located east and south of the visitor center. The only visitor access to this unit is from boat launch areas on Village Creek from Farm to Market Road 418, Highway 327, Baby Galvez Road, and Highway 96. Traveling the creek in a canoe, kayak, or small boat is a great way to see this unit.
Big Sandy Creek Unit is located northwest of the visitor center. Visitors can explore this unit on three designated hiking trails and two county roads that traverse the unit.
Between the visitor center and the Big Sandy Creek Unit is the Big Sandy Creek Corridor Unit. This unit has no amenities and access is limited.
Menard Creek Corridor Unit is located due west of the visitor center and just south of the Big Sandy Creek Unit. This unit consists of a narrow sliver of land surrounding Menard Creek. It has two amenities: a fishing area and short hiking trail.
The Upper Neches River Corridor Unit, Canyonlands Unit, and Beech Creek Unit are clustered in the northeast corner of the map, 15 miles east of Woodville, just over 5 miles south of Highway 190, and just north of the town of Spurger.
The Upper Neches River Unit begins on the south side of the Town Bluff Dam, enveloping the Neches River for over 20 miles until reaching other units to the south. It has no amenities and a single boat access point called McQueen’s landing just downriver from the dam.
The Canyonlands Unit is adjacent and to the west of the Upper Neches River Corridor Unit. It has no amenities or icons.
The Beech Creek Unit is west of and slightly larger than the Canyonlands Unit. It has a picnic area and a small trail in the unit’s southwest corner along Farm to Market Road 2992.
The Jack Gore Baygall and Neches Bottom Unit is roughly 15 miles directly east of the visitor center. It is a large unit that protrudes on both the west and east sides of the Neches River. It has no amenities, a few unpaved roads, and a fishing access point.
In the southeast corner of the map is the Beaumont Unit, a large piece of land located between the Neches River and Pine Island Bayou, just north of the major city of Beaumont. This unit features fishing areas, boat ramps, and picnic areas. Adjacent to the north is the Lower Neches River Corridor Unit, which encompasses a sliver of land along the Neches River. Adjacent to the west of the Beaumont Unit is the Little Pine Island Bayou-Pine Island Bayou Corridor Unit, which encompasses a sliver of land along both of those bayous.
In the southwest corner of the map is the Lance Rosier Unit, the largest unit of the national preserve, just south and east of the town of Saratoga. This unit has no amenities or trails, only a few dirt roads. Little Pine Island Bayou flows through the Lance Rosier Unit on its west side. To the west of Lance Rosier is the Loblolly Unit, a small unit with no amenities.
The east boundary of the Big Thicket area is the Neches River and the west is the Trinity River. The Neches is almost entirely encompassed by the following units: Upper Neches River Corridor, Jack Gore Baygall and Neches Bottom, Lower Neches River Corridor, and Beaumont. Many of the different units of the preserve are connected by smaller waterways like creeks or bayous. Beginning in the northwest corner of the map, Big Sandy Creek flows southeast, through the Big Sandy Creek Unit and the Big Sandy Creek Corridor Unit, before flowing into Village Creek. A few miles north of the visitor center, Village Creek flows southeast through the Turkey Creek Unit and into the Village Creek Corridor Unit. Village Creek eventually meets the Neches River in the Lower Neches River Corridor Unit, just north of Beaumont Unit in the bottom right corner of the map. South of the visitor center, directly west of the Beaumont Unit, Little Pine Island Bayou flows through the Lance Rosier Unit and the Little Pine Island-Pine Island Bayou Corridor Unit to the Neches River.
HEADING: Other Public Lands and Places.
On the north border of the Big Sandy Creek Unit, the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation contains a segment of Highway 190 as well as a campground. In the northeast corner of the map on Highway 190 is B.A. Stienhagen Lake, a large reservoir. On the east side of the lake Martin Dies Jr. State Park offers a ranger station and opportunities for camping, hiking, boating, and picnicking. South of the Visitor Center, east of Kountze is the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary, another hiking destination. East of Lumberton is Village Creek State Park where visitors can picnic, boat, and camp. In the Southwest corner of the map, the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge and Davis Hill State Park are located along the Trinity River but offer no amenities.There is a vast network of various highways and backroads that connect towns and public lands. For specific mileages, directions, and route finding inquires please start your visit at the Visitor Center 6012 Farm to Market Road 420, Kountze, Texas 77625 or call 409-951-6700.
Start here for information, films, exhibits, permits, and a bookstore. The visitor center, open daily, is wheelchair-accessible. Service animals are welcome.
Go to www.nps.gov/bith or call 409-951-6700 for schedules.
Find lodging, private and public campgrounds, food, stores, and services in nearby towns.
The preserve is natural and wild. Dangers exist. Your safety is your responsibility.
Swimming is not recommended in the waters of the preserve due to the possibility of strong currents and underwater debris. There are no lifeguards on duty or designated swimming areas. When you are in or around water, exercise caution and wear a personal flotation device (PFD).
Protect the Preserve Federal law protects all plants, animals, and cultural artifacts. No collecting.
We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information go to the visitor center, ask a ranger, call, or check our website.
ADDRESS: 6044 FM 420, Kountze, TX 77625
PHONE NUMBER: 409-951-6700
Big Thicket National Preserve is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities visit www.nps.gov.
National Park Foundation.
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