Brazoria NWR Public Use
The Big Slough Recreation Area at Brazoria was first opened in the late 1980's and is now available to the public on a full-time basis. An Information Pavilion near the entrance of the refuge has interpretive panels and also information on the self-guided auto tour including a brochure and cassette or compact disc. Brazoria is open every day sunrise to sunset. Toilets are available near the Information Pavilion.
The gravel Big Slough Auto Route runs 7.5 miles through the Big Slough Recreation Area, the heart of Brazoria NWR, wrapping around Olney and Teal ponds, and accessing Big Slough and Rogers Pond. The 3-mile entrance road from County Rd. 227 (which passes through private lands) also can provide wildlife viewing. County Road 227 cuts through some of the refuges best bluestem prairie terrain. The gravel auto-tour is also open to biking.
Brazoria provides several footpaths in different settings, leading to a wide variety of habitat experiences, All manner of pathways are available, from a boardwalk to an abandoned railroad right-of-way to woodland and bayou trails. None of the walks is especially long, and all are on relatively flat terrain. Wandering off-trail here is not advised, however, because alligators and poisonous snakes reside in the taller grasses.
Boats are permitted on Nicks, Salt, and Lost lakes by way of the Intracoastal Waterway or Bastrop Bayou. Boats are not allowed to be launched from the Salt Lake Fishing Area parking lot. There are two boat ramps: one on the west bank of Bastrop Bayou, just off County Rd. 227 and the other off County Rd. 257 on the refuges southwestern boundary.
Teal Pond is a popular early-morning and late-evening stop for large numbers of geese, who come here to eat gravel, which aids their digestion. This same spot is also renowned for hawk, harrier, kestrel and white-tailed kite sightings. A universally accessible observation platform at Teal Pond offer viewing scopes and interpretive panels.
Rogers Pond, at the auto-tours turnaround point, is a great place to observe wading birds, shorebirds, or waterfowl, depending on water levels and seasons. Middle Bayou Trail leads to views of birds that favor grasslands and prairies, including bobwhite quail, sandhill cranes, and four species of dove. Prime grounds to scout for alligators include the banks of Big Slough near Cox Lake because it is one of the Refuges last bodies of water to dry up in a drought. Mottled Duck Marsh, of CR 208 on the refuges northern edge, rewards visitors on the lookout for waterfowl and shorebirds.
The boardwalk over Big Slough provides a close encounter with a lovely marsh crowded with spiky cattails and bulrush. For satisfying photos of wildflowers, visit the bluestem prairie along County Rd. 227.
Hikes and Walks
The Big Slough Boardwalk and Trail winds over and along the edges of a major slough on a raised boardwalk. The trail winds through low forests of yaupon trees and small clearings to an observation platform. Benches provide opportunities to rest and quietly observe wildlife. Loop trails branch and rejoin this primary trail, allowing for isolated observation of passerines perching in the trees and bushes. The main loop is 0.6 mile long; other loops run 0.1, 0.25, and 0.5 miles. Start at the visitor Information Pavilion.
Middle Bayou Trail follows 2 miles along an abandoned railroad right-of-way parallel to County Rd. 227 on the east side of Bastrop Bayou (trail head at Bastrop Bayou fishing pier).
Spring: Friends of the Brazoria Wildlife Refuges host the Migration Celebration (speakers, seminars, trade show, field trips, and other activities) at Brazoria and San Bernard NWRs.
Fall: Family Day in November (children's activities, tours, exhibits and nature walks) usually held at Big Slough.
Winter: The Audubon/Freeport Christmas (bird) Count is also a popular gathering.
Texas Mid-Coast NWR Complex brochure,