Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. 

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge is situated in the floodplain of the Trinity River in Liberty County. Within the boundaries of the refuge, the forest is composed of river cane, various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, American sycamore, eastern cottonwood, and baldcypress trees.  

The refuge has approximately 37 miles of primitive trails scattered over 10 refuge day use areas. Most of the refuge floods or has standing water at various times of the year, so be prepared to get your shoes muddy during the wet times. Also be prepared to enjoy the wildlife that call this amazing landscape home for all or part of the year, including wood duck, white-tailed deer and colorful migratory birds. Be sure to bring your binoculars for the best viewing opportunities. 

One may enjoy hiking, wildlife observation, photography, boating, and fishing from Champion Lake Day Use Area as there is much to see. Views of black willows and baldcypress trees can be seen sitting in the waters of the lake. Dabbling ducks and wading birds, such as herons and egrets, may be seen foraging. An osprey or bald eagle flying overhead is not an uncommon sight and almost year-round American alligators can be seen lurking in the murky waters below. During the migration seasons, painted buntings and cedar waxwings may be found bounding about in flocks. On the other side of the levee is Pickett’s Bayou. Champion Lake and Pickett’s Bayou are popular sites for kayaking, canoeing, boating, fishing, and crabbing.  

Driving Directions

Refuge Headquarters (30.09836, -94.76583

From Houston:

Take I-10 east to TX-146 (Mont Belvieu exit). Go north on TX-HWY 146 for 16 miles to US 90. Turn right on US 90 and go six miles to Liberty. At Main St. (traffic light at McDonald's), turn left and go 3.3 miles to FM 1011. Turn left and continue 0.6 miles. The office is on the left

From Beaumont:

Take I-10 west to FM 563/Anahuac/Liberty exit. Turn right and go 17.4 miles. Turn left on US 90 and go 0.8 miles to Main Street (traffic light at McDonalds). Turn right and go 3.3 miles to FM 1011. Turn left and continue 0.6 miles. The office is located on the left.  

Knobby Knees Trailhead (30.861716, -94.783881

From the intersection of HWY 90 and Main St (McDonalds) in Liberty: 

Head north on Main St and go over the railroad tracks. Proceed north on Main St. for 1.7 miles. Turn west onto Cook Road and proceed for 0.5  miles into Liberty Municipal Park. Turn right at R. E. Vinson Dr. and follow it until it ends at the north end of the park. Park near maintenance office, but not directly in front of the dumpster. Look for the trailhead kiosk 100 yards east of the maintenance buildings along the wood line. 

From the intersection of Hwy 146 Bypass and Hwy 146 (near Walmart) in Liberty: 

Head southwest on Main St for 0.5 miles. Turn west onto Cook Road and proceed for 0.5 miles into Liberty Municipal Park. Turn right at R. E. Vinson Dr. and follow it until it ends at the north end of the park. Park near maintenance office, but not directly in front of the dumpster. Look for the trailhead kiosk 100 yards east of the maintenance buildings along the wood line.

Great Egret’s Ridge Trailhead (30.0603904, -94.8070868)

From the intersection of HWY 90 and Main St (McDonalds) in Liberty: 

Head west on US-90 for 0.6 miles. Turn north onto Louisiana St and proceed for 0.2 miles. Turn west onto Trinity St and proceed for 377 ft. Turn north on Ohio St and proceed 250 feet. Park under the electric pole on the right side of the street. 

From the intersection of Hwy 146 Bypass and Hwy 146 (near Walmart) in Liberty: 

Head southwest on Main St and proceed for 1.9 miles. Turn west onto Grand Ave and proceed for 0.4 miles. Turn south on Bowie St and proceed for 0.2 miles. Turn west on Trinity St and proceed for 0.3 miles until it dead ends on Ohio St. Turn north on Ohio St and proceed 250 feet. Park under the electric pole on the right side of the street.

Treefrog Trailhead (30.0733589, -94.8045317)

From the intersection of HWY 90 and Main St (McDonalds) in Liberty: 

Head north on Main St and go over the railroad tracks. Proceed north on Main St. for 0.4 miles. Turn west onto Grand Ave and proceed for 0.1 mile. Turn north onto Travis St and proceed for 0.8 miles. Turn west onto Cypress Street and follow it until it dead ends (0.4 miles). Park on the side of the street, not on the levee or the middle of the road. 

From the intersection of Hwy 146 Bypass and Hwy 146 (near Walmart) in Liberty: 

Head southwest on Main St and proceed for 0.7 miles. Turn west onto Jefferson Dr and proceed for 0.8 miles. Turn north on Travis St and proceed  for 250 feet. Turn west onto Cypress Street and follow it until it dead ends (0.4 miles). Park on the side of the street, not on the levee or the middle of the road.  

Boar’s Den Day Use Area (30.277359, -94.795578

From the intersection of Hwy 146 and Hwy 105 (Moss Hill):

Head west 4.0 miles on Hwy 105 to the east side of the Trinity River Bridge. Immediately before reaching the bridge, exit north along the gravel road that runs alongside the bridge. Park in the area along the gravel road. DO NOT park on wooden bridge or block gate.  

From the intersection of Hwy 321 and Hwy 105 (south of Cleveland): 

Head east 12.6 miles on Hwy 105 to the East side of the Trinity River Bridge. Right as you pass the bridge you will need to turn north (hard left) like you are going under the bridge. Park in the area along the gravel road. DO NOT park on wooden bridge or block gate. 

Brierwood Day Use Area (30.264619, -94.837469

From the intersection of Hwy 146 & Hwy 105 (Moss Hill): 

Head west 6.5 miles on Hwy 105 to CR 2305 (across from the Preserve of Texas). Head south (turn left) on CR 2305 for .3 miles to CR 2306. Head east (turn left) on CR 2306 for 2.0 miles to the parking area. When you reach the end of the road you have arrived at the Brierwood Parking area. 

From the intersection of Hwy 321 and Hwy 105 (south of Cleveland): 

Head east 10.2 miles on Hwy 105 to CR 2305 (across from the Preserve of Texas). Head south (turn right) on CR 2305 for .3 miles to CR 2306. Head east (turn left) on CR 2306 for 2.0 miles to the parking area. When you reach the end of the road you have arrived at the Brierwood Parking area. 

Butler Day Use Area (30.346991, -94.895746

From the Intersection of Hwy 105 & Hwy 146 (Moss Hill): 

Head west on Hwy 105 for 14 miles to 4 way stop (FM 2518). Head north (turn right) on FM 2518 for 0.2 miles to CR 2252 (Davis Hill RD). Head east (turn right) on CR 2252 (Davis Hill RD) for 3.2 miles to CR 2185. Head north (turn left) on CR 2185 (Tram RD) for 1.6 miles to CR 2187 (Bazzoon RD). Head east (turn right) on CR 2187 for 0.6 miles to the Butler area parking site. The parking area is on the right side of the road at the end of CR 2187. For further information type CR-2187 in a map search engine.

From the Intersection of Hwy 321 & Hwy 105 (south of Cleveland): 

Head east on Hwy 105 for 2.8 miles to 4 way stop (FM 2518). Head north (turn left) on FM 2518 for 0.2 miles to CR 2252 (Davis Hill RD). Head east (turn right) on CR 2252 (Davis Hill RD) for 3.2 miles to CR 2185. Head north (turn left) on CR 2185 (Tram RD) for 1.6 miles to CR 2187 (Bazzoon RD). Head east (turn right) on CR 2187 for 0.6 miles to the Butler area parking site. The parking area is on the right side of the road at the end of CR 2187.

Champion Lake Day Use Area (29.921353, -94.799573

From Houston:

Take I-10 East, exit FM 3180, go North on 3180 (Eagle Dr) for 3 miles to FM 565, turn right on FM 565 and go 2.5 miles to FM 1409, turn left on FM 1409 for 3 miles to CR 417. Turn right on CR 417 for 1.8 miles to end at the road. 

From Beaumont:

Take I-10 West, exit FM 565, Old River / Winfree. Go north 2 miles to FM 1409. Turn right on FM 1409 for another 3 miles to CR 417. Turn right on CR 417 for 1.8 miles to the end of the road. 

From Hwy 90 in Dayton:

Take FM 1409 south 10.5 miles to CR 417. Turn left on CR 417 for 1.8 miles to the end of the road. Be sure to obey the 20 MPH speed limit signs while driving on CR 417.

Hirsch Day Use Area (30.219785, -94.793946

From the intersection of Hwy 146 Bypass and Hwy 146 (near Walmart) in Liberty: 

Head northeast on Hwy 146 for 1.2 miles. Turn left on to FM 1011 and follow for 5.4 miles. Turn left (west) onto FM 834/FM1011 and continue for 1.9 miles. Veer left and continue onto CR 2095 for 1.3 miles. At the stop sign turn left onto CR 2096 and follow for 1.6 miles. Turn right (north) onto CR 2503 and follow for 0.4 miles to the parking lot at the end. Park in the parking lot. 

From the intersection of Hwy 321 and Hwy 105 (south of Cleveland): 

Head east 16.7 miles on Hwy 105 to the intersection of Hwy 105 and HWY 146. Turn south (turn right) onto Hwy 146. Head south 1.9 miles on Hwy 146 to CR 2097. Slight right at CR 2097 and continue for 0.7 miles. Continue onto CR 2094 for 0.5 miles. Turn right at CR 2096 and continue for 2.5 miles. Turn right at CR 2503 and follow for 0.4 miles until you reach the end of the road. Park in parking lot. 

McGuire Day Use Area (30.176212, -94.788238

From the intersection of Hwy 146 Bypass and Hwy 146 (near Walmart) in Liberty: 

Head north on Hwy 146 for 1.2 miles. Turn left (west) onto FM 1011 and go 5.4 miles until you reach a stop sign. Turn left (north) onto FM 834 and go 0.1 miles. Turn left (west) again onto FM 834 and go 1.2 miles. Turn right (north) onto CR 2087 and go 0.5 miles. Curve right (north) to stay on CR 2087 and go another 0.5 miles. The entrance to the Refuge will be on the left. Look for Refuge sign on left side of road. Turn (left) west on dirt/rock road for 0.1 miles to parking area. 

From the intersection of Hwy 321 and Hwy 105 (south of Cleveland): 

Head east on Hwy 105 for 16.7 miles to Moss Hill. At the intersection of Hwy 105 and Hwy 146 turn right (south) onto Hwy 146. Follow Hwy 146 for 6.2 miles until you reach the stop light at the intersection of Hwy 146 and FM 834. Turn right (west) onto FM 834 and follow for 1.6 miles. Turn left onto FM 834 (west) and go 1.2 miles. Take the first right (north) and turn onto CR 2087 and go 0.5 miles. Curve right (north) to stay on CR 2087 and go another 0.5 miles. The entrance to the Refuge will be on the left. Look for Refuge sign on left side of road. Turn left (west) on dirt/rock road for 0.1 miles to parking area. 

Page Day Use Area (30.27293, -94.801737

From the intersection of Hwy 146 and Hwy 105 (Moss Hill): 

Head west 4.4 miles on Hwy 105 to the west side of the Trinity River Bridge. As soon as you cross the bridge coming from Moss Hill you will need to turn south (hard left) like you are going under the bridge. Go about 0.1 miles and turn right down a dirt-road (not the beach access road) for 0.5 miles to the parking area.  

From the intersection of Hwy 321 and Hwy 105 (south of Cleveland): 

Head east 12.4 miles on Hwy 105 to the west side of the Trinity River Bridge. Right as you get to the bridge coming from Cleveland you will need to turn south (hard right) as if you are going under the bridge. Go about 0.1 miles and turn right down a dirt-road (not the beach access road) for 0.5 miles to the parking area. 

Silver Lake Day Use Area (30.351361, -94.760091

From the intersection of Hwy 146 and Hwy 105 (Moss Hill): 

Head north on HWY 146 and drive 7.2 miles. Turn west (left) at County Road 2115, also known as Nixon-Smith Road. Stay left and proceed approximately 0.3 miles and park in the parking area on the right. 

From the intersection of Hwy 321 and Hwy 105 (south of Cleveland): 

Head east 16.7 miles on Hwy 105 to intersection of HWY 105 and HWY 146. Turn north (left) and drive 7.2 miles. Turn west (left) at County Road 2115, also known as Nixon-Smith Road. Stay left and proceed approximately 0.3 miles and park in the parking area on the right. 

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

There is a charge for our hunts on the refuge which include Big Game (archery, regular gun, muzzleloader), Small Game (squirrel and rabbit) and Waterfowl. 

The Big Game and Small Game hunts are handled through the Texas Parks and Wildlife "Drawn Hunts" system TPWD Drawn Hunts and have prices listed. 

The Waterfowl hunt fees are $10 per person, per day.  

Restrooms

Restrooms are available inside the refuge headquarters and at our Champion Lake Day Use Area.  

Points of Interest

Let our staff at the refuge headquarters building help you plan your visit! This is a great starting point for visitors to become more familiar with the refuge and the wildlife that live here. We can help you with maps and brochures to local hiking and paddling areas. Interested in hunting? We can tell you all about our many types or hunts, including information for hunters looking for more accessible hunts. While there, don’t forget to ask about interpretive programming that may be coming up.   

What To Do

If you have 15-minutes.  

  • Take a quick, easy hike beginning at Knobby Knees Trailhead down to Palmer Bayou Boardwalk and Observation Deck. Enjoy the many knobby cypress knees for which the trail was named. 

If you have one hour. 

  • Visit Champion Lake Day Use Area where you may visit insects enjoying nectar in the pollinator garden, take a hike down Paseo de los Patos Trails, and enjoy the views of Spanish moss laden cypress trees and majestic herons flying overhead. Keep an eye out for painted buntings and cedar waxwings during migration season. 

If you have half a day or more. 

  • If you have a kayak or boat, explore the calm waters of Champion Lake and have a picnic under a grove of majestic cypress trees. Keep an eye out for mysterious inhabitants of the lake such as alligator gar. If looking for a hike, pack your gear and begin at Knobby Knees Trailhead and make your way to the sandy shores of the Trinity River. Arkokisa Oaks Scenic View is a relaxing site for exploration and a picnic by the waters. 

Know Before You Go

The bottomland hardwoods are an exciting place to explore. To make your visit as enjoyable as possible, be sure to pack insect repellent, sunscreen, a compass, snacks, water, a cell phone, flashlight and a map. Due to the thick canopy of the forest overhead, the forest floor tends to get darker prior to sunset. Bring a flashlight and be aware of how long it may take you to hike out. Weather can change rapidly from sunny to drenching thunderstorms. Make sure to check weather conditions and Trinity River water level gages prior to your visit. Pack your mud boots. They are always helpful for those unexpected puddles in the bottoms.  

Visitor Tips

Wildlife is everywhere, but they are very good at hiding. If you would like to view wildlife, try to arrive early, near sunrise, before the heat of the day. If you arrive at sunrise, expect to be greeted by forest birds singing their dawn chorus. Viewing wildlife during the middle of the day is best done by staying quiet and still while sitting in a comfy sit spot. After about 5 minutes, wildlife will begin to emerge and go about their everyday business. Visiting near the end of the day is also a great way to observe wildlife as some make their way home and others are just waking up.

Activities

When visiting, whether by yourself, or with friends, family, or four-legged friends, you are sure to make an unexpected discovery. Try your hand at painting, photography, or birding. Be on the move by hiking, paddling or boating. If you are looking for the challenge of sport, try hunting, fishing, and crabbing. Find your nature here!   

Trails

Boy Scout Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. Closed until 1:00 p.m. on weekends from November through January due to Waterfowl Hunting.  

  • Length: 0.14 miles 

  • Location of trail: Champion Lake Day Use Area (29.921353, -94.799573

  • Surface: Natural earth 

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Boy Scout Trail begins in the parking lot in front of the fishing pier, next to the Champion Lake Boat Ramp. A small wooden boardwalk crosses a small drainage and then leads uphill, through a young forest following the edge of Champion Lake. The trail ends at Paseo de Los Patos Trailhead at the pollinator garden at the top of the hill. 

Paseo de los Patos Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. Closed until 1:00 p.m. on weekends from November through January due to Waterfowl Hunting. 

  • Length: 0.25 miles 

  • Location of trail: Champion Lake Day Use Area (29.921353, -94.799573

  • Surface: Natural earth 

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Paseo de los Patos Trail begins at the trailhead located at the backside of the pollinator garden at the top of the hill. Paseo de los Patos Trail is named in tribute to the Casa de Los Patos Hunt Lodge, erected in the 1940’s by Champion Paper and Fibre Company. This trail traverses the mixed hardwood forest at the edge of Champion Lake. Hike under the canopy of red mulberries, southern magnolia, and baldcypress trees. This trail is a loop.  

Wood Duck Walkabout Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. Closed until 1:00 p.m. on weekends from November through January due to Waterfowl Hunting. 

  • Length: 0.24 miles 

  • Location of trail: Champion Lake Day Use Area (29.921353, -94.799573

  • Surface: Natural earth 

  • Difficulty: Moderate 

  • Information: This trail begins near the parking lot of Champion Lake fishing pier over to the Pickett’s Bayou boat ramp and explores the ridges beyond. Dwarf palmettos, American elm, and water oak add to the mystery of this trail. This trail loops back to the parking lot in front of the cabins. It is sure to be a quiet hike.  

Black-bellied Byway Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. Closed till 1 pm on weekends from November through January due to Waterfowl Hunting. 

  • Length: 0.10 miles 

  • Location of trail: Champion Lake Day Use Area (29.921353, -94.799573

  • Surface: Natural earth 

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This trail connects to Paseo de los Patos Trail. This trail continues down to the edge of Champion Lake. This trail leads to the water’s edge, under the canopy of the baldcypress trees.  

Levee Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. Closed till 1 pm on weekends from November through January due to Waterfowl Hunting. 

  • Length: 2.3 miles 

  • Location of trail: Champion Lake Day Use Area (29.921353, -94.799573

  • Surface: Natural earth 

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: The Levee Trail is a hiking trail which follows the Champion Lake levee, crosses a spillway, and leads to the floodplain of the Trinity River. Visitors can catch close up glimpses of blue crab, alligators, and fish. This bottomland hardwood forest is filled with various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, black willow, and baldcypress trees. The forest in this area is different from our forests in the northern part of the county. This area is a transition zone from the bottomland hardwood forest habitat to the coastal marsh.  

Boar’s Den Trails   

  • Open Season: This trailhead is closed seasonally to hiking during hunt season. Each year hunt season dates vary from late September to mid-January. For safety reasons, please call the Refuge Office during this season to ensure the area is open to hikers before visiting. 

  • Length: 5.6 miles 

  • Location of trail: Boar’s Den Day Use Area (30.277359, -94.795578

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This day use area has 5.6 miles of unnamed hiking trails. These trails help hikers explore from the edge of the floodplain to the Trinity River. This bottomland hardwood forest is filled with various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, American sycamore, eastern cottonwood, and baldcypress trees. This area also has nice stands of river cane where Swainson’s warblers may be heard. Take the turn off immediately before the northeast side of the Trinity River bridge, proceed down, and park near the underside of the overpass. Please do not park on or in front of the wooden bridge.  

Brierwood Trails 

  • Open Season: This trailhead is closed seasonally to hiking during hunt season. Each year hunt season dates vary from late September to mid-January. For safety reasons, please call the Refuge Office during this season to ensure the area is open to hikers before visiting.  

  • Length: 6.6 miles 

  • Location of trail: Brierwood Day Use Area (30.264619, -94.837469

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This day use area has 6.6 miles of unnamed hiking trails. There is a short loop (0.6 miles) and a long loop (6.0 miles). This bottomland hardwood forest is filled with various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, American sycamore, eastern cottonwood, and baldcypress trees. Please park in the parking lot and take care not to block the gate.  

Butler Trails 

  • Open Season: This trailhead is closed seasonally to hiking during hunt season. Each year hunt season dates vary from late September to mid-January. For safety reasons, please call the Refuge Office during this season to ensure the area is open to hikers before visiting. 

  • Length: 0.45 miles 

  • Location of trail: Butler Day Use Area (30.346991, -94.895746

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This day use area has 0.45 miles of unnamed hiking trails. The north fork (0.1 miles) goes to a small pond and the south fork (0.15 miles) proceeds to a piney area. To explore the floodplain forest, hikers may follow the north or south fenceline to visit’s Ander’s Pond, an 80-acre tupelo pond. From this point it is bottomland hardwood forest all the way to the Trinity River. This bottomland hardwood forest is filled with various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, American sycamore, eastern cottonwood, and baldcypress trees. Please park in the parking lot and take care not to block the gate.  

Hirsch Trails  

  • Open Season: This trailhead is closed seasonally to hiking during hunt season. Each year hunt season dates vary from late September to mid-January. For safety reasons, please call the Refuge Office during this season to ensure the area is open to hikers before visiting. 

  • Length: 3.65 miles 

  • Location of trail: Hirsch Day Use Area (30.219785, -94.793946

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This day use area has 3.65 miles of unnamed hiking trails which explore the mature bottomland hardwood forest of the Trinity River. After 0.24 miles of hiking from the trailhead, you have the option to hike northwest towards the Trinity River for 1.75 miles or east going deeper into the forest for 1.66 miles. This bottomland hardwood is forest is filled with various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, American sycamore, eastern cottonwood, and baldcypress trees. This area also has nice stands of river cane where Swainson’s warblers may be heard. Please park in the parking lot and take care not to block the gate.  

Silver Lake Boardwalk Trail  

  • Open Season: This trailhead is closed seasonally to hiking during hunt season when the wildlife observation blind provides accessible hunting opportunities. Each year hunt season dates vary from late September to mid-January. For safety reasons, please call the Refuge Office during this season to ensure the area is open to hikers before visiting. 

  • Length: 0.1 miles 

  • Location of trail: Silver Lake Day Use Area 

  • Surface: ADA Compliant  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This day use area features a 0.1 mile accessible boardwalk which leads to a wildlife observation blind overlooking a right-of-way. This boardwalk leads hikers through a mixed hardwood forest of the Trinity River. If hikers choose to hike the county road in the direction of the Trinity River, they will find impressive baldcypress swamps with knees 5 feet tall as the forest transitions from a mixed hardwood forest to a bottomland hardwood forest. The mixed hardwood and bottomland hardwood forests are filled with loblolly pine, various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, American sycamore, eastern cottonwood, and baldcypress trees. Please park in the parking lot, not on the road. 

McGuire Trails  

  • Open Season: This trailhead is closed seasonally to hiking during hunt season. Each year hunt season dates vary from late September to mid-January. For safety reasons, please call the Refuge Office during this season to ensure the area is open to hikers before visiting.  

  • Length: 3.36 miles 

  • Location of trail: McGuire Day Use Area (30.176212, -94.788238

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This day use area has 3.36 miles of unnamed hiking trails in 3 overlapping loops. Hikers can explore the mature bottomland hardwood forest of the Trinity River using these trails. This bottomland hardwood forest is filled with various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, American sycamore, eastern cottonwood, and baldcypress trees. Use the metal boardwalk to cross over Green’s Bayou to explore further. Please park in the parking lot and take care not to block the gate.  

Page Trails  

  • Open Season: This trailhead is closed seasonally to hiking during hunt season. Each year hunt season dates vary from late September to mid-January. For safety reasons, please call the Refuge Office during this season to ensure the area is open to hikers before visiting. 

  • Length: 4.6 miles 

  • Location of trail: Page Day Use Area (30.27293, -94.801737

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This day use area has 4.6 miles of unnamed hiking trails in a long loop (3.6 miles) and a spur (1.0 mile) which approaches the point bar of the Trinity River. This bottomland hardwood forest is filled with various oaks, elms, ash, water hickory, American sycamore, eastern cottonwood, and baldcypress trees. Four inholdings of private property are located in this area, beware of trespassing accidentally. Please park in the parking lot and take care not to block the gate. 

Knobby Knees Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 1.0 mile 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Knobby Knees Trail features a symphony of knobby knees that can be seen peeking out from the waters of the still wetlands. This trail is suitable for children 3 and up and has several benches for taking a break. Look above your head for waterlines in the trees. During flood events, this trail can go 8 feet underwater. This trail leads to Palmer Bayou Boardwalk and Observation Deck. 

Palmer Bayou Boardwalk and Observation Deck 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding.  

  • Length: 500 feet 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth and boardwalk; not ADA Compliant 

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Palmer Bayou Boardwalk and Observation Deck (500ft) connect the Knobby Knees Trail to the Leapin’ Lizard Loop. This boardwalk crosses a wetland which transitions from a hardwood forest to a small eastern swamp privet swamp. The observation deck offers scenic views of Palmer Bayou. There visitors can rest under the shade of two baldcypress trees on benches and listen to birds while little ones can marvel at whirligig water beetles sliding over the glassy waters. If the boardwalk is flooded over, everything past it is flooded over as well. 

Leapin’ Lizard Loop Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding.  

  • Length: 1.8 miles 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Leapin’ Lizard Loop follows Palmer Bayou to a pipeline right-of-way. The trail transitions from an intact bottomland hardwood forest to one which was timbered approximately 25 years ago. Note the change from a variety of large trees to a monoculture of Chinese tallow trees in some areas. This trails follows an old logging road, but also winds through the trees. This trail has two shortcuts, both of which lead north, to Cottonmouth Trace. 

Cottonmouth Trace Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 0.75 miles 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Cottonmouth Trace is a remnant of an old logging road. This trail leads to Josie Lake Scenic View. The north and east sections of this trail are still very well defined and follow parts of Josie Lake, an oxbow lake of the Trinity River. The southern section is a foot path that winds through the woods to Bobcat Bend Loop. Note minor changes in elevation as this trail passes through ridges and swales. 

Bobcat Bend Loop Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 2.6 miles 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Bobcat Bend Loop passes through various habitats because it rises in elevation as it approaches the Trinity River. The soils change from clay soils to sandy soils. Trees also vary from oaks, ashes, elms, and privet to American sycamore and eastern cottonwood as the trail approaches the river. This trail also offers a close up experience of river cane, a staple of the Big Thicket of Texas habitat. 

Bobcat Tail Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 300 feet 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Bobcat Tail Trail is a short spur off of Bobcat Bend loop which brings people to Bobcat Tail Trail Scenic Overlook. It crosses through American sycamore trees to gain a hidden view of the river. One may cross the sandy point bar to enjoy the waters and view of the Trinity River. It is called Bobcat Trail because it is such a short trail. 

Spirit Oaks Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 0.6 miles 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Spirit Oaks Trail is a longer spur which travels through two baldcypress swamps as it makes its way to Arkokisa Oaks Scenic View. This trail also crosses through American sycamore trees to the point bar of the river where the sands of Trinity River are especially scenic. 

The SCA Way Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 1.5 miles 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: The SCA Way is a trail which follows a high ridge of the Trinity River to an old unnamed oxbow lake. This trail stays on the high ridge where the point bar has been reforesting itself over time. At Sycamore Swales Scenic View, where the forgotten point bars of the oxbow lake transition to a cut bank edge, American sycamore trees dominate the inner edge of the oxbow. Take a moment to listen to the sounds of the trees lining the oxbow as their leaves clap in the wind. 

Golden Orb Weaver Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 0.4 miles 

  • Location of trail: Knobby Knees Day Use Area (30.0861716, -94.783881

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Golden Orb Weaver Trail is a small loop trail which connects The SCA Way and Bobcat Bend Loop. The east side of this trail demonstrates a nice, gradual change in elevation. The sandy ridge gives way to the lower clay-based habitat where water does not drain as quickly and floodwaters tend to linger just a bit longer. 

‘Possum Passel Pass 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 1.2 miles 

  • Location of trail: Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area (30.0603904, -94.8070868

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy  

  • Information: ‘Possum Passel Pass traverses the Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area south to north. It follows a two-track road which is used for maintenance of a right-of-way. This road starts on an artificially high road and then drops down into the floodplain where water hickory and associated forested wetland trees dominate. The road parallels Big Bayou for the most part and leads to Twin Lakes Scenic View, a thin stretch of land between Twin Lake and Big Bayou. At this scenic view, one can visit the wildlife photography blind overlooking Twin Lake or can hunker down and spy animals catching a drink from Big Bayou. Two benches can be found along this trail for hikers who would like to sit and enjoy. 

Great Egret’s Ridge Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 2.0 miles 

  • Location of trail: Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area (30.0603904, -94.8070868

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Great Egret’s Ridge Trail leaves the two track road and winds into the trees of the forest. This trail crosses shallow ephemeral wetlands created by the ridge and swale topography. Cricket’s Corner Scenic View is the first scenic view along the way to the Trinity River. This view features Big Bayou and an impressive array of baldcypress knees. Very large species of oak trees can also be found in this area. Two benches have been placed along this trail for hikers who would like to sit and enjoy. 

Inchworm Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 0.16 miles 

  • Location of trail: Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area (30.0603904, -94.8070868

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Inchworm Trail is a shortcut to the southern tip of Twin Lakes. The trees in this area are thin and spindly. The area is recovering from being harvested approximately 25 years ago. Take a look across the drainage to see trees which were not harvested. Note the structure structure
    Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish…

    Learn more about structure
    of the forest on both sides. 

Great Egret’s Scenic View Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 150 feet 

  • Location of trail: Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area (30.0603904, -94.8070868

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy  

  • Information: Great Egret’s Scenic View Trail is a short trail which leads to Great Egret’s Ridge Scenic View where a deep swale between the point bar of the Trinity River and the edge of its riverine corridor can be found. Hikers may explore the Trinity River sandbar from this point. 

Sandbar Access Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 250 feet 

  • Location of trail: Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area (30.0603904, -94.8070868

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Sandbar Access Trail (250 ft) is a short trail which leads to Backpacker’s Point Scenic View, a transitional zone from a cut bank to a point bar of the Trinity River. It is quite a view of the sandbar from this point. Hikers may explore the Trinity River sandbar from here. Note the amount of sunlight on this trail. As the river continues to overflow its banks, it deposits large amounts of sand, up to four feet deep sometimes, killing trees which are not adapted to survive these conditions. American sycamore and Eastern cottonwoods dominate these areas because they are adapted to such conditions. 

Boggy Boots Loop 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 1.4 miles 

  • Location of trail: Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area (30.0603904, -94.8070868

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Boggy Boots Loop traverses the floodplain from Big Bayou to the Trinity River. This trail gives a great picture of the habitat associations of trees and change in elevation in the floodplain. The soils change from clay soils to sandy soils. This loop can be a bit soggy in two particular sections. Trees also vary from oaks, ashes, elms, and privet to American sycamore and eastern cottonwood as the trail approaches the river. This loop leads to Trinity River Overlook Scenic View and visits Forgotten Bend Scenic View, a former cutbank which filled with sand and features some interesting topography. One-half of this trail is an old logging road while the other half winds through the trees and wetlands. 

The SCA Way Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 1.7 miles 

  • Location of trail: Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area (30.0603904, -94.8070868

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy  

  • Information: The SCA Way is a trail which follows a high ridge of the Trinity River to an old unnamed oxbow lake. Along the way, very large majestic trees dominate the areas with their canopies. 

Treefrog Trail 

  • Open Season: This trail experiences seasonal closures. The trail is open January to September, but is closed during the deer hunting season (October-December). Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding.  

  • Length: 0.4 miles 

  • Location of trail: Great Egret’s Ridge Day Use Area (30.0603904, -94.8070868

  • Surface: Natural earth  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: Treefrog Trail connects Treefrog Trailhead to the Bobby Boots Loop. The trail begins on a pipeline right-of-way, but turns south into a low elevation forest after the culvert. Note the sparse vegetation, indicating this black soil is very high in clay and moisture content. Water hickory and oaks are the dominant trees in the overstory. Treefrog Trail crosses Big Bayou at Mason Bridge and then proceeds to Boggy Boots Loop. ADVISORY: This trail is adjacent to private land. Please stay on the marked tail and do not trespass into the private lands.  

Pollinator Garden Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. Closed till 1 pm on weekends from November through January due to Waterfowl Hunting 

  • Length: 150 feet 

  • Location of trail: Champion Lake Day Use Area (29.921353, -94.799573

  • Surface: ADA Compliant 

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: The Pollinator Garden is located at the parking lot at the top of the hill. Visitors may feel free to enter the pollinator garden to view pollinators interacting with Texas native plant species and smell the flowers. A bench is available so you may enjoy the buzzing. This garden is also appropriate to bring children up close to the colorful world of pollinators. 

Champion Lake Fishing Pier  

  • Open Season: Open year round sunrise to sunset. Hiking only. Not open to biking or horseback riding. Closed till 1 pm on weekends from November through January due to Waterfowl Hunting. 

  • Length: 100 feet 

  • Location of trail: Champion Lake Day Use Area (29.921353, -94.799573

  • Surface: ADA Compliant 

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: One may enjoy wildlife observation, photography, and fishing from Champion Lake Fishing Pier as there is much to see. From the Champion Lake fishing pier, hikers can sightsee along the Levee Trail. 

Rules and Policies

Safety for wildlife, habitat, and visitors is most important on the refuge. Never feed wildlife and remember to give them their space. Ensure you are using the proper gear when hunting and fishing. Respect speed limits on land and water when in motor-operated vehicles.  

Locations

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
601 Fm 1011 Liberty, TX 77575-2915

Hiking trails and boat ramps are susceptible to closures due to flooding.  

Water levels at hiking trails can be checked using the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service for Trinity River at Liberty. Be aware of possible hiking trail closures of these day use areas at the following river levels:   

  • Knobby Knees, Great Egret’s Ridge, and Boar’s Den Day Use Areas close when river levels at the Liberty gage reach 18 feet or higher.  

  • McGuire and Brierwood Day Use Areas close when water levels reach 24 feet at the Liberty gage. 

  • Page Day Use Area close when water levels reach 27 feet at the Liberty gage. 

  • Hirsch Day Use Area close when water levels reach 28 feet at the Liberty gage. 

  • Silver Lake and Champion Lake Day Use Areas close when water levels reach 29 feet at the Liberty gage. 

  • Butler Day Use Area are not influenced by the Trinity River and remain open despite river conditions. 

 

Water levels for boat ramps at Champion Lake Day Use Area can be checked using the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service for Trinity River at Moss Bluff Gage. Be aware of possible boat ramp closures at Champion Lake Day Use Area at the following river levels:   

  • Champion Lake Boat Ramp closes when river levels at the Moss Bluff gage reach 12.7 feet or higher.  

  • Pickett’s Bayou Boat Ramp closes when river levels at the Moss Bluff gage reach 14 feet or higher.  

 

Boar’s Den, Brierwood, Butler, Champion Lake, Hirsch, McGuire, Page, and Silver Lake Day Use Areas close for hunting, seasonally, during portions of September through January. Dates vary according to day use area.   

Please contact the refuge office if you would like more information regarding possible closures during your visit. 

Hours
Headquarters Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
All federal holidays
Closed
Lands, Roads and Trails Hours
Daily
Sunrise - Sunset