It flows approximately 280 miles to its confluence with the Angelina River and on to the Gulf of Mexico for a total reach of 420 miles. The refuge area includes bottomland hardwood forests, open water and floodplains. Nearby, the Pineywoods of east Texas are mixed pine-hardwood forests and pine plantations. These bottomland hardwoods contain important wintering habitat for various waterfowl species, including mallard, as well as vital producing and rearing habitat for wood ducks. Historically, the area has played a key role in sustaining the Central Flyway waterfowl population. Eastern Texas and Oklahoma bottomland hardwoods, including those found on Neches River National Wildlife Refuge, represent the only significant breeding habit of the wood duck and one of the most important wintering areas for the mallard in the Central Flyway.