San Bernard National Wildlife is a huge natural reserve with lots of different trails, fishing spots, and activities. Located about 1.1 hours south of Houston and along the Gulf of Mexico, it serves as a great day trip for a family adventure or some more serious trekking.
Keep driving along the gravel road past the headquarters. Look for the entrance and you can’t miss it!
The whole road throughout the refuge is this gravel but I ran into an intimidating challenge within the first 5 minutes…. water crossings in my car.
Scissor-tailed Trail (0.8 miles)
I picked this trail as it is a short one to test out the park. Unfortunately this was the buggiest path and I ended up jogging most of the 0.8 miles.
Cedar Lake Creek Fishing Pier
I wanted to visit the small fishing pier on the southernmost end of the reserve. I enjoy fishing but did not bring my poles or any bait.
Wolfweed Wetlands Boardwalk Trail (1.5 miles?)
The next stop was the Bobcat Woods boardwalk which has the same starting point as the Wolfweed Wetlands trail. However, I was once again thwarted by mosquitoes and overzealous bees. Turned around after a quarter mile of harassment.
The next part involves a lot more action and excitement, even though I didn’t do a great job with the photography.
Generally nature is friendly and a wonderfully safe place. But I was visiting alligator territory so it was important I kept my distance and stayed sharp. There were several alligators bathing on the shore as I walked by them, about 10 feet away. Always exercise caution during hiking and if you feel unsafe head back.
Another note about Wolfweed Wetlands trail is the beautiful birdsongs throughout the trail. Lots of different calls and notes echoed through the marsh. Sometimes just one bird would call out, other times a chorus of different birds would all chime together.
San Bernard Auto Tour (9.4 miles)
There is a vehicle tour that leads around the park passing several different observation posts and scenic views. Here are a couple pictures of the auto tour.
Hudson Woods Scoby Lake Trail (1.4 miles)
Next I drove about thirty minutes north to another section of the wildlife refuge called “Hudson Woods.” It was my favorite part of the day and for some reason had no mosquitoes. It also held the most adrenaline-fueled moment of the day.
I stepped under the chest-height spider web and walked further into the trail. I was about ten feet from where I saw the hog while it was eating (before it ran away).
My foot lands on a crunchy twig and, in a flurry of chaos, a wild piglet dashes across the trail. No more than three feet in front of me!
I immediately yelp, turn 180 degrees, and run back through the huge spider and her web. My only thought was I did not want to meet angry hog momma so I ran all the way back to the main road in the park.
So, after being within 10 feet of huge alligators, snorkeling with a shark in the Florida Keys, and many more dangerous adventures, I had never been more frightened for my life… all it took was a squealing piglet.
Review and Recommendations
I had way more fun than I expected when visiting San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. These national plots of land are sometimes hit or miss on what you can expect. This one was a hit for me.
There is a really great array of activities for families and hikers. Several 4+ mile trails to string together a long day trip or just take it all in during the auto tour. The wildlife diversity was some of the best I’ve seen in southeast Texas: alligators, snakes, wild hogs, raccoons, and many different types of birds.
Definitely check out the Hudson Woods area of the refuge. It is closer to Houston and in my opinion a prettier trail with an awesome boardwalk. Go check it out now!