Kirby and Sandhill Loop
ElevationAscent: 78' 24 m
Descent: -78' -24 m
High: 122' 37 m
Low: 77' 23 m
GradeAvg Grade: 1% (0°)
Max Grade: 5% (3°)
Current trail conditions
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“Experience the diverse ecology of Big Thicket in a 5-mile "figure eight" loop.”— Karl W
Family Friendly The Kirby Nature Trail is interpretive so the whole family can learn about the diverse wildlife in Texas.
You can start this path by following the Kirby Nature Trail Inner Loop to the east. The trail begins as a mix of either paved or boardwalk, but this doesn't last long. At the first intersection, keep to the left. This guide will follow the trail clockwise, which stays paved longer than counterclockwise. Even though the paved section ends, the entire trail is always about four feet wide and could (theoretically) be accessible. But deep sand/gravel/roots could make it very tough going for a wheelchair.
Continue north along the wide trail. The west side of Kirby Nature Trail has a number of swamps that are crossed by boardwalks and offer views of the interesting plant life. There are more mosquitoes on the west side of the loop as a result. At about 2/3 of a mile, you'll reach the High Water Bypass which is also a shortcut. Continue on the Kirby Trail to see more of the swamps.
At one mile you'll see a picnic area with two wheelchair-friendly tables to the north of the nature trail. Head towards them, and you'll clearly see a bridge over Village Creek. Follow the trail over the bridge for about 0.8 miles of unremarkable trail. Soon you'll reach a bridge over Turkey Creek. Head over to the base of Sandhill Loop. Continuing clockwise will allow you to continue along the creek (although actual views of the creek are limited) before reaching the intersection with the Turnkey Creek Trail. Head east along Sandhill Loop. Once into the tall lodge pole pines the trail becomes noticeably more open and dryer. As a result the 2/3 of Sandhill Loop away from Turkey Creek has significantly fewer mosquitoes.
Eventually, the tall pine forest will turn back into the thick (thicket) forest, and you'll come back to Turkey Creek. Return over the bridge and along the 0.8 mile trail to the small picnic area just south of Village Creek. Immediately after crossing the bridge, look for where the Kirby Nature Trail Outer Loop heads east. If you don't want to do the Outer Loop, you can continue back to the Kirby Nature Trail (called Inner Loop here) and take it back to the parking area. Otherwise the Outer Loop will take you on a more secluded route to the east. There is nothing fantastically interesting on the Outer Loop, but it will add about a mile onto your outing, and you are unlikely to see anyone - which means you might see some more interesting wildlife.
The Outer Loop will join back up with the Kirby Nature Trail (aka Inner Loop on signs) which you can follow back to the parking area.
Land Manager: NPS - Big Thicket National Preserve