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low or open palmetto and hardwood terraces when it’s high. Armed with a compass, GPS device, and map—not to mention extra drinking water— you’ll also want to sneak into one of the eerie cypress sloughs and tea- colored oxbow lakes that adjoin the river from time to time. Those spooky, shadowy haunts


were once hiding places for moonshiners, desperadoes, Union sympathizers, and Confederate desert- ers during the Civil War. Now, only ghosts, real or imagined, reside here. Except, of course, for the native wild-


life that calls Big Thicket home. One of the more lightly visited units of the National Park system, the Big Thicket National Preserve, by contrast, is teeming with critters. Strategically located at the biological crossroads of North America, the Big Thicket National Preserve is home to alligators, river otters, deer, raccoons, razorback hogs, armadillos, and some 200 species of birds, including bald eagles, eastern bluebirds, and roadrunners. And if you love your herptiles, you’re in luck: The Thicket boasts


one of the primo selections of reptiles and amphibians on the continent. While most of the snakes in the Big Thicket are harmless, several (includ- ing cottonmouth, copperhead, and coral) are venomous and require hikers to observe extra caution. ¿


Veteran outdoors writer LARRY RICE is a former contributing editor for Backpacker Magazine.


FIND MORE INFO on visiting Big Thicket National Preserve at scoutingmagazine.org/bigthicket.


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