SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – March 2011

Rip & Go: Turkey Creek Trail

Hike through three ecological zones in east Texas's carnivore country.

by: Casey Lyons and Charlie Williams

PAGE 1 2
Big trees in Big Thicket (Laurence Parent)
Big trees in Big Thicket (Laurence Parent)

Take it With You
Download a printable PDF of this entire weekend.

GPS-Enabled Trip Report
See this trip on a map, download it to your phone, GPS, or computer, and more.
DO IT KEY SKILL | THE MENU

DO IT
Looking for long stretches of tumbleweed-strewn ranges to practice your thousand-yard stare? Look elsewhere. This 15-mile point-to-point tracks through slough, slope forest, savannah, piney uplands, and some of the greatest diversity of plant life in the world (500 species per square mile, compared to fewer than 200 in most other places). This patchwork habitat houses gators, carnivorous plants, and 185 species of birds—but not a single longhorn. Park in the lot off Farm to Market Road 1943, and enter the uplands on the wide-and-flat trail (1). Reintroduced longleaf pines join shortleaf and loblolly varieties to quilt a thick canopy. At mile 2.9, turn right to stay on the Turkey Creek Trail, or continue straight onto the Pitcher Plant Trail (2), a .8-mile horseshoe winding through mixed pine forest to the edge of a wetland savannah. From April to November, the pitcher plant’s slick-walled cavity traps and drowns insects. Return to the Turkey Creek Trail, dipping into swampy sloughs, their brown waters skewered by cypress roots. Cross Hester Bridge Road (3) at mile 6.2, and begin a 2.7-mile stretch through the pines to Gore Store Road (4). Turn right for a .2-mile road-walk before regaining the trail on the south. Pull your cache jug out of the brush  (See Key Skill) and walk 1.1 miles through thick yaupon holly-hedged trail to a dispersed campsite (5). Next day, you’ll cross the first of three oil pipelines at mile 11.1. (Hey, this is Texas.) At mile 12.9, continue straight onto the Sandhill Loop Trail (6), or take the .8-mile detour between tall loblolly pines with an open understory laid thick in pine needles. Rejoin (or continue on) the Turkey Creek Trail, crossing a metal footbridge (7) over the namesake creek. Keep right  (see Topo Tip) at the four-way intersection (8) to wind west through cypress slough toward Kirby Nature Center (9)—or continue straight on the Kirby Nature Trail to see the slope forest’s beech and magnolia.

TRIP PLANNER

Shuttle
From Beaumont, take US 287 north 30 miles, turn right on Farm to Market Rd. 420, and park at Kirby Nature trailhead in 2.6 miles.
 
Trailhead Go north on US 287 for 11 miles, turn right at Farm to Market Rd. 1943, park in 3.5 miles. 
 
Gear up Whole Earth Provision Company, 2934 S. Shepherd Dr., Houston. (713) 526-5226; 
Permits Required (free); self-register at the trailhead.
 
Trip data backpacker.com/hikes/345546

BUY THE PRO MAP

DO IT | KEY SKILLS | THE MENU
 

KEY SKILL: Cache Water
This area’s mining and industrial past make Turkey Creek’s water suspect for contamination from heavy metals. Backcountry water filters do nothing against this type of pollutant. Fortunately, a road-crossing makes preloading the route with water a snap. 
 
IMAGE
 
Target Gore Store Road, 8.9 miles from the northern trailhead (A), and lay away one gallon per person. Use a lightweight container like a milk jug, mark it with your name and the date, and stash it south of the road in the brush. (B) Waypoint it on your GPS, then use the Go To function to locate it again.
 
Once you’ve tanked up, collapse the jug and pack it out.
 
To reach Gore Store Road from the southern trailhead (C), drive north 3.7 miles on US 287, and turn right. Drive 3.7 miles to the turnout. 

SEE THIS: Coral Snake
IMAGE
With all due respect to the rattlers, copperheads, and cottonmouths (all found here), the coral snake is the serpent to fear in this country. This day-crawler grows up to 30 inches, has red-on-yellow (“kills a fellow”) stripes, and prefers heaps of rotting wood. The snake’s ¹⁄8-inch fangs mean it must latch on and chew to envenomate. Bad news: Just a drop (5 mg) of its neurotoxic venom can kill a full-grown human in hours. Good news: Fewer than 20 bites per year occur, mostly in spring and fall.

LOCALS KNOW
Not far from Big Thicket, feral hogs, reportedly weighing up to 900 pounds—the big ‘uns are called hogzillas—roam the coastal plains and interior forests of Texas. The pigs aren’t so monstrous in the preserve (they top out at a comparatively svelte 300 pounds), but their impact is enormous. Spot them by their leavings: landscapes that look Rototilled as the pigs nose and scrape around for roots and tubers. These go-anywhere mammals don’t discriminate at dinnertime, and they breed three litters of up to 13 piglets each year. Despite their size and gluttony, hogs are typically bashful around people: The park has never received a report of feral pigs eating camper chow or equipment, or bothering campers, so no additional food protection is called for. But beware: Boars and sows with piglets are lightning quick, and can be unpredictable. If one charges you, climb higher than five feet in a tree.

TOPO TIP
In wet weather, take the higher Kirby Nature Trail south from (8), to avoid watery sloughs.
IMAGE



PAGE 1 2


Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Ryan F
Sep 05, 2011

I'm thinking about doing this hike in January.
South Texas bees are known for being very aggressive in the winter months. Has anyone had any bee problems on this trail?


ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Gear
Best all-around sleeping bag tem
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: Owen571
Trailhead Register
Hi............
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: RedDoug
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions