The forests and bottomlands in the Big Thicket and around the creek are home to more than 1,000 flowering plants, more than 200 bird species and more than 100 different types of trees, including bald cypress, water tupelo, black willow, river birch, mayhaw, yaupon and myriad pines and oaks. About 640 of the park’s 1,090 acres were devastated by Hurricane Rita, with a loss of 30 to 80 percent of the trees in those areas. Despite reforestation plans, the recovery is still under way.
The park’s abundant wildlife includes snapping turtles, white-tailed deer, diamondback water snakes, opossums, raccoons, nine-banded armadillos and an occasional otter, beaver or mink. Although common to the Neches River area, alligators rarely show up on Village Creek because of the colder water fed by area springs.
The heart of the park is Village Creek, one of the last unrestrained waterways in Texas. Because of the lack of controls, the water flow is highly variable, and heavy rains can quickly translate into swift currents and flooding.
The creek begins near the Alabama-Couchatta Indian Reservation and travels 69 miles before pouring into the Neches River just downstream from the park.
Although Village Creek State Park has eight miles of hike-and-bike trails, the most enjoyable way to experience it is by canoe or kayak. The Village Creek Paddling Trail begins in the Big Thicket upstream and ends at the park. The entire length is 21 miles, but several access points along the way can shorten the trip to as little as 1-3 hours. For overnight floats, there are broad, white beaches and sandbars along the way ideal for camping. Free camping permits are available at the Big Thicket office.
Except after heavy rains, the creek is calm with smaller streams, ponds and sloughs branching off from it. In dry spells, you may have to carry your canoe in places around logjams or sandbars.