Logging operations that began in the late 1800s left only scrub hardwoods and a few isolated "islands" of young pines on the land now known as Big Slough, the smallest Wilderness in Texas. You'll still encounter large stumps and evidence of the narrow-gauge trams that supported tree-hauling railroads. You'll also see a regrown forest, 66 percent of which is composed of hardwoods (oak, hickory, sweet gum, willow) and 26 percent of shortleaf and loblolly pine. Hardwoods and pines cover 4 percent of the area, and Big Slough's waters cover the remaining 4 percent. Warmth and moisture characterize the Gulf Coastal Plain climate, encouraging poison ivy, poisonous snakes, chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, and irritable, ground-nesting yellowjackets. Deer and smaller mammals live here, too. Despite the large number of dead trees that were killed by the Southern pine beetle, some USFS employees rate this as one of the most interesting Wilderness areas on Texas national forestland. The Neches River forms the entire eastern boundary and joins the idle water of Big Slough. Hickory Creek drains hills along the western boundary and eases eastward to meet the river. Well-marked hiking trails crisscross the area, including the 20-mile Four C National Recreation Trail, which runs north-south and cuts through two miles of the higher southern portion. Try to wear bright outer clothing in the fall season, as hunting (for deer, wild hogs, and squirrels) is allowed. Anglers don't pose any threat, except perhaps to the catfish, bass, crappie, and sunfish.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Big Slough Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.