A Very Nice Nature Center
By Lone_Star on 3/2/2013
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours
The Armand Bayou Nature Center was a pleasant surprise. It is a well managed facility and worth the $4 admission charge. There are several trails you can take, including:
- Martyn Trail
- Karankawa Trail
- Lady Bird Trail
- Prairie Interpretive Trail
- Discovery Trail
A printed trail map is available at the Entrance Building, but signage is excellent. Direction signs are posted at key intersections and distance markers are provided every 1/4 mile on the first three trails listed above. In addition, there are lots of educational displays and signs to help you learn more about the wildlife and ecosystem in the nature center. I recommend you spend time upfront reading the signs as they will help set the stage for the rest of your experience once you are out on the trails.
All of the trails are interesting in their own way.
The Martyn Trail (1.32 miles) takes you to the bayou, across some forested wetlands, and to bird blinds and wildlife viewing platforms.
The Karankawa Trail is a little longer (1.38 miles) and also takes you to the bayou, the boat house (a small shack on the shore of the bayou), and to observation points.
The Lady Bird Trail is longer still (1.5 miles), takes you to an observation point along the bayou and brings you back through grassy prairie lands. If you don't want to walk the full 1.5 miles, there is a short loop cut-off that will cut the distance to about 1/2 mile.
The Prairie Interpretive Trail takes you out onto a natural prairie. It mentions a lot of wildlife, but I didn't see any.
The Discovery Trail takes you through the restored Martyn Family Farm. It gives you a good idea of what living there must have been like in earlier days. There are two bison on the farm, so be sure to swing by and admire these massive beasts.
There is a lot of poison ivy and thorny bushes in the park, so I would advise staying on the trail and wearing long pants. In my opinion, hiking off-road in shorts is rarely a good idea. Also, part of the trail can get muddy so I would not venture the trails after it has rained. Best to wait a few days unless you're willing to get muddy.
The Armand Bayou Nature Center is along the path of the Bay Area Hike & Bike Trail and across the street from where the Armand Bayou Hike & Bike Trail starts at the intersection of Red Bluff Road and Bay Area Blvd. Catch either one of those trails if you want to hike further, but be aware that both of these trails are long. You can read my logs of those two trails here and here, respectively.