The Big Thicket National Preserve consists of nine land units and six water corridors encompassing more than 108,000 acres. 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. Boating and fishing are popular on the Neches River. Village Creek is an official Texas State Paddling Trail, and attracts canoeists and kayakers year-round. Paddlers can access the creek at a number of locations for trips ranging from a few hours to overnight. Hunting is allowed in specific areas of the Preserve during the fall hunting season. Hunters must have a Preserve-issued permit and a valid State of Texas Hunting License. Trapping in specific areas is authorized during the months of December and January, but requires a Preserve-issued permit, accompanied by a valid State of Texas Trapping License. Big Thicket activities include: backpacking, biking, bird watching, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, interpretive programs, canoeing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. About Big Thicket: Big Thicket was the first Preserve in the National Park System established October 11, 1974, and protects an area of rich biological diversity. A convergence of ecosystems occurred here during the last Ice Age. It brought together, in one geographical location, the eastern hardwood forests, the Gulf coastal plains, and the midwest prairies. December 15, 1981, the Preserve was designated an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program. July 26, 2001, the American Bird Conservancy recognized the Preserve as a Globally Important Bird Area joining thousands of others around the world. Hours: 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. Admission: free.