Big Thicket National Preserve

One’s fondness for the area is hard to explain. It has no commanding peak or awesome gorge, no topographical feature of distinction. Its appeal is more subtle.” – Big Thicket Legacy, University of Texas Press, 1977.

The Big Thicket National Preserve consists of nine land units and six water corridors encompassing more than 108,000 acres. The Big Thicket National Preserve is a heavily forested area that lies within Hardin, Liberty, Tyler, San Jacinto, and Polk counties. The area has been described as one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, outside of the tropics. The Big Thicket National Preserve was established in 1974 in an attempt to protect plant and animal species which inhabit the area. This area was the first national preserve established in the United States National Park System, in 1974.

Approximately 40 miles of hiking trails wind through Big Thicket National Preserve, allowing hikers to observe many different ecosystems. In addition, the Preserve is on two migratory bird flyways: the Central and Mississippi. Bird watching is excellent from mid-April to mid-May and less active during the fall. The Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center sells a checklist of the birds found in the preserve.

Outdoor Recreation

  • Hiking
  • Birding Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Seasonal Hunting in specific areas of the preserve with a Preserve-issued permit and a valid State of Texas Hunting License.


Preserve Headquarters is open Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. Closed holidays.

Preserve Visitor Center is open daily, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Open weekends and holidays.

The Visitor Center is located seven miles north of Kountze, Texas, on U.S. Highway 69 at the junction of FM 420 at 6102 FM 420, Kountze, Texas 77625.

Phone # 409-951-6700.

Read more about the Big Thicket National Preserve.