Big Thicket National Preserve, Sundew Trail
The Big Thicket National Preserve, the first preserve in the National Park System, is 97,000 acres on nine land units spread over 50 square miles in seven counties. Ten distinct habitats are the result of a convergence of eastern hardwood forests, Gulf coastal plains, and Midwest prairies. In 1981, Big Thicket was designated an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations, part of a worldwide system of biosphere reserves. This trail is located in the Hickory Creek Savannah Unit, which is less than one thousand acres. Wetland savannahs form where depressions in higher ground collect rainwater (average annual precipitation here is 55 inches). The landscape is characterized by open grassy flatlands and scattered longleaf pines, with a variety of grasses, sedges, rushes, and wildflowers. The blooming season for wildflowers in the area runs from February through November, and some of the many species you will see are rose gentians, gay feathers, and meadowbeauty. Several species of orchids, and at least four species of carnivorous plants are also common here. These plants have evolved to eat insects to survive in the nutrient-poor soil created by the impenetrable clay hardpan below the surface in this area. Look for pitcher plants, which have narrow, funnel-shaped leaves with a rolled opening designed to trap insects. The trail’s namesake sundew plant is also carnivorous. These are tiny plants, often smaller than a dime, so you will have to look closely in the grass for red rosettes. In the summer, the plants have tiny white or pink flowers. Their leaves are covered with glands that produce sticky fluid, which traps insects.
Length: 1.5 miles
Skill Level: Easy