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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Esclovon

Where is "My Neck of the Woods"?


The very word conjures up visions of deserts, rolling hills, cactus and scrub brush. Seldom do people think of towering trees, fern covered paths, swamps and exotic wildflowers. These are the things that make up my neck of the woods, you may wonder where exactly are these lush green areas in the State of Texas? The regions of Deep East Texas and Southeast Texas are the places I spend my time and hope that you will want to explore further, so let me introduce you to Deep East and Southeast Texas.

County Map of Deep East and Southeast Texas
My Neck of the Woods

Deep East Texas

Deep East Texas is made up of 12 counties and is fondly referred to as "Texas Forest Country" because it houses the four National Forests in the state. My two favorite ones are the Angelina National Forest and the Sabine National Forest.

Sunrise in Sabine National Forest
Sunrise in Sabine National Forest

Not only is Deep East Texas home to the forests, it is home to the two largest reservoirs in the state. Toledo Bend Reservoir, that shares the border with Louisiana, and Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Both provide great fishing and recreational opportunities any time of the year. Not all the waterways in Deep East Texas are large. There are also more intimate waterways in the form of small lakes and several access points for the Neches, Angelina and Sabine Rivers. I frequent the areas of Deep East Texas because of the National Forests and vast waterways that provide so many opportunities for recreation. Hiking, camping, boating, and fishing; the activities are limited only by the time you have to spend in the area.

Fishermen heading to camp after a long day on Sam Rayburn Reservoir
Heading to camp after a day fishing on Sam Rayburn

Southeast Texas

Southeast Texas is where I call home. Jefferson, Orange, Chambers and Hardin counties make up this area. When most people think of this area of the state they think of the petrochemical industry because of the 1901 Lucas gusher at Spindletop Oilfield and the large oil refineries that are headquartered here. However, nestled among the industry, the are beautiful landscapes, waterscapes and abundant wildlife. One of my favorite parts of Southeast Texas is the coastal areas, partly because so much of my childhood was spent there. Along the coastal area there are three National Wildlife Refuges; Anahuac, McFaddin, and Texas Point. Of the three, Anahuac NWR has to be my favorite and is the most accessible with short hiking trails, bay access, driving routes, fishing, crabbing and some of the best birding in the state.

Sunset over Shoveler Pond at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Sunset over Shoveler Pond at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

The Southeast Texas area is also home to two state parks, Village Creek State Park and Sea Rim State Park. Village Creek State Park is right in the middle of The Big Thicket and the tanin stained waters provide cool respite during the hot summer months whether you choose to paddle them, swim or relax on the sand bars. Sea Rim State Park is right on the upper Texas Coast and provides great beach and marsh access with opportunities for swimming in the gulf waters, beach combing, birding or paddling the marsh.

Of all the places in Deep East and Southeast Texas, one has truly captured my heart, The Big Thicket. According to the dictionary, a thicket is a dense growth of trees and bushes rendering it impenetrable. Historically it was just that, thick and hard to travel through. Early settlers learned from the indigenous people who inhabited the area and used the waterways to travel. There are still places today where you can find this same thick, dense growth that illustrates the definition well.

The Big Thicket has been described as "America's Biologic Crossroads" and as an area where hardwoods and pine meet swamp. It is full of mystery, legends and landscapes like no other in the state. It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and a Globally important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy. Historically the Thicket comprised what is estimated to be over 3.5 million acres, what exists now in The Big Thicket National Preserve is just under 115,000 acres. The Big Thicket is not a place you can quickly see, it is one that requires a slow pace to explore. The Thicket is not just what is inside the National Preserve Borders, it's the people, the way of life and the beauty of nature that surrounds you if you just slow down and take a look.

Fall reflections on Pine Island Bayou in The Big Thicket

With all that the regions of Deep East Texas and Southeast Texas have to offer, I hope you will consider a visit to my neck of the woods. If you have questions about Deep East Texas or Southeast Texas, please reach out to me on my About page. I love sharing tidbits about my neck of the woods. ----Michelle

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