Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


Top Row: Sonja Sommerfeld / TPWD x 2; Chase Fountain / TPWD; Bottom Row: Chase Fountain / TPWD; Sonja Sommerfeld / TPWD x 2


Island Trail

Martin Dies Jr. State Park

The Island Trail, which circumnavigates a small island on the north side of Martin Dies Jr. State Park, is a naturalist’s delight, especially for those who love birds and plants. Wild and diverse habitats cover the island, offering explorations of the lake, sloughs and forest that define the park, at the edge of the Big Thicket in East Texas. An extraordinary web of life exists here.

“It’s one of my favorite trails and the trail where I do most of my interpretive walks. It’s very scenic,” says park interpretive specialist Amy Kocurek. “It’s surrounded by water, there are huge cypress trees, and you can see all kinds of water birds such as egrets and herons.”

How often do you get to hike around an island? Not very often, and that by itself holds special appeal. A bridge connects the Walnut Slough Day Use Area to the trail. From there, it’s a short distance to the park’s larger Observation Bridge, a popular spot for bird watching or fishing. The north side of the island provides views of B.A. Steinhagen Lake and wetlands, with chances to see the many water birds that call the place home. The island’s trees harbor woodpeckers and other forest birds. The south side of the island is bordered by a slough, a narrow channel of water where bald cypress trees grow (alligators may be present). The northwest point of the island offers a rare opportunity to see nesting bald eagles in the distance (bring binoculars or a spotting scope).

DISTANCE: 0.75 miles

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