Big Sandy Loop
Trinity River Bridge - Hwy. 19
From the intersection of FM 230 and Hwy. 19 in Trinity, go south on Hwy. 19 for 5 miles to the north end of the Trinity River Bridge. The bridge is several miles long and a paved parking area is provided on the east side of the southern end of the bridge. Bridge can also be reached by going northeast on Hwy. 19 for 16 miles from Huntsville. The paved parking access will be on the right.
Visitors can canoe or kayak to experience the serene environment of the Trinity River. An abundance of backwater and wetland areas allow visitors to view wading birds and other woodland and wetland wildlife.
The riverbanks of the Trinity River are teeming with activity. You may spot an occasional alligator basking in the sun or patrolling the riverbank. Numerous species of damselflies and dragonflies can be observed darting among the bank vegetation. Monarchs and other butterflies are also plentiful. Look for river otters, American White Pelican, Belted Kingfisher and numerous species of neotropical migrants in spring and summer. You can also watch the Cliff Swallows perform their aerial acrobatics; look along the underside of the bridge for hundreds of small mud swallow nests.
There are two sloughs within walking distance of the parking lot. The first is visible from the pull-off entrance. Look for Indigo Buntings in the willows and Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons feeding around the perimeter. The second slough is larger than the first, you can hike under the bridge and the slough will become visible.
From the intersection of US 59 and US 190 in Livingston, go east on US 190 for approximately 12.5 miles. Turn right (south) on FM 1276 and follow 3.3 miles to the trailhead on the left.
Located within the Big Sandy Creek Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve, the Woodland Trail offers hiking loops of 3.3, 4.5 and 5.4 miles. Beginning in an old pine plantation, the trail moves into mature bottomland hardwoods associated with the Big Sandy Creek floodplain.
Mammals commonly seen in the area include white-tailed deer, coyote, bobcat and nine-banded armadillo. Many species of amphibians and reptiles inhabit these woods, including marbled salamander, speckled kingsnake and coral snake.
Different bird species abound within the upland and bottomland habitats traversed by the trail. Look and listen for Pileated and Red-headed Woodpeckers in the bottomlands. Also look for Blue Grosbeak, Painted and Indigo Buntings and Yellow-breasted Chat in the open fields, and Prairie Warbler in the pine stands. Look for dragonflies in the pond area and butterflies along the trail.
Big Sandy Trail
From the US 190 Exit off of US 59 in Livingston, go east on US 190 for 12.3 miles and turn south on FM 1276 for 8.5 miles to Sunflower Rd. Turn west on Sunflower Rd. for 2 miles to the trailhead on the left.
The 18-mile trail within the Big Sandy Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve is open for hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding. The trail crosses upland pine forests, then travels into bottomland hardwoods within the floodplains of Simons Branch and Big Sandy Creek. Tree species include sweetgum, basket oak, hornbeam, holly and bald cypress trees in the wetland.
The habitats of the Big Thicket support a diversity of birds. Look for Greater Roadrunner, Red-headed and Pileated Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Wood Thrush. Look overhead for Black and Turkey Vultures, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks and Common Nighthawk. Nesting birds include various warblers. Look to the drainages for various dragonflies and butterflies.
Backcountry primitive camping permits are required for overnight stays and can be obtained by calling.
Huntsville State Park
In Huntsville, take Exit 109 from I-45 to PR 40. Go west on PR 40 for 1.5 miles to park.
This beautiful state park features woodlands dominated by loblolly and shortleaf pine, sweetgum and water oak. Yaupon, American beautyberry, sabal palm and Virginia creeper are common plants.
The park offers hiking, mountain biking and paved bicycle trails. The park's trail network connects to the Lone Star Trail and there are several historic CCC structures within the park. Watch and listen in the trees for Pileated and Red-headed Woodpeckers, Eastern Kingbird, White and Red-eyed Vireos, Carolina Wren and 14 species of warblers.
The park surrounds Lake Raven, which provides a variety of recreational opportunities, including fishing and boating (rental available). Exploring the lake in a canoe or kayak is a great way to get close-up views of wading birds. Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Night Heron and Belted Kingfisher can be found, along with grebes, coots and ducks on the open water. Chimney Swifts and swallows are common overhead and winter visitors can also see Bald Eagles.
Stubblefield Recreation Area
From I-45 outside of Houston, take Exit 102 and head west on FM 1375 for 9.6 miles. Turn north on FSR 215 for 3 miles to the campground entrance on the right.
Located in the Sam Houston National Forest, this recreation area includes fishing, hiking, canoeing and year-round wildlife viewing, with a 1.1-mile interpretive trail and a 140-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail. Trail access is located in the campground parking area.
This area is a good example of transitional upland to streamside habitat, and includes pine forest and bottomland hardwoods associated with Stubblefield Lake and the San Jacinto River. Look for gray fox, white-tailed deer and bobcat. Wading birds and Bald Eagles can be seen along the river. Other birds to watch for include Eastern Kingbird, Summer Tanager, Eastern Phoebe and Indigo Bunting. Red-cockaded Woodpecker, an endangered species, can be found in open pine habitats with large trees. Butterflies commonly seen include Giant and Tiger Swallowtail and Silvery Checker-spot. Dragonflies include the Swamp and Regal Darner, Russet-tipped Clubtail and Eastern Ringtail.
Lake Livingston State Park
From RR 5 and FM 1988, turn left on FM 1988 and travel 1 mile to FM 3126. Turn left and travel 0.5 mile to PR 65, the entrance is on the left.
A 635-acre park with 2.5 miles of Lake Livingston shorelines which offer a variety of outdoor opportunities. Enjoy the beautiful, natural setting and the scenic views as you walk or ride the park trails that range in length from 0.25 mile to 3 miles. The Pineywoods Nature Trail Boardwalk offers views of both wetland and woodland habitat and is one of the park's interpretive trails. Tucked away along some of the trails are bird blinds providing excellent viewing and photographing of the woodland and grassland birds and wildlife. In addition to songbirds, you will see waterbirds and shorebirds along the lake and ponds throughout the park. Commonly seen birds include herons, egrets, Barred Owl, Red-shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagle, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, plus migrating birds in the spring and fall with some remaining throughout the winter.