Big Thicket National Preserve is Pet-Friendly!

Black dog with tongue out looks at us as he lies down on the trail. Pink leash extends to the left.
Enjoy some quality time with your four-legged friends on a trail.

NPS Photo / Scott Sharaga

Pets are welcome on all trails in the preserve. We ask that you follow a few rules when bringing your pet:

  • Pets must be on-leash at all times (6-foot maximum leash length)
  • Pick up and dispose of your pet's poop.
  • Pets are not allowed inside the visitor center or at public programs.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended outside or inside a vehicle.
  • Hunting with dogs is not allowed.
    Exception: Retrievers may be used to retrieve waterfowl.

Service Animals

NPS policy defines a service animal as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The tasks performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability. Service animals are allowed anywhere that people are allowed.


Become a Big Thicket B.A.R.K. Ranger

Does your pet have what it takes to be a Big Thicket B.A.R.K. Ranger? If so, stop by the visitor center to pick up a copy of the Big Thicket B.A.R.K. Ranger activity list. The program teaches pet owners the importance of recreating responsibly with your pet while visiting the preserve.

After you complete the activities, return to the visitor center to earn an official Big Thicket B.A.R.K. Ranger certificate for your pet!

Please knock on the front door of the visitor center to let a ranger know that you're outside with your pet (pets are not allowed inside the visitor center).


What does B.A.R.K. stand for?

Bag your pet's waste: Keep Big Thicket clean by picking up your pet's poop and disposing bags in trash cans at trailheads. Pet waste can run off into water sources and pass on diseases to wildlife and other pets.

Always use a leash: Pets must be on a leash of 6 feet or less while hiking in the preserve. They help keep your pet safe around bikes, other hikers and pets, and wildlife.

Respect wildlife: Pets can chase and threaten wildlife from their habitat. Please keep your pets away from any wildlife you may encounter in the preserve.

Know where you can go: Pets are allowed on all trails in Big Thicket National Preserve but are not allowed inside the visitor center or on ranger-led programs (unless stated otherwise). Please stay on trails and boardwalks to protect sensitive ecosystems.
a person standing with a brown and white dog on leash next to a TRAIL sign with an arrow.
BARK Ranger Bandit on duty

NPS Photo / Scott Sharaga

Before You Go

Check the current conditions for Big Thicket before your visit. Weather, temperature, and trail conditions can impact where you can go. Make sure to NEVER leave your pet unattended at any time.

Do you have everything your pet needs to explore Big Thicket?

  • Leash
  • Extra water for your pet
  • Pet waste bags
  • Snacks/treats

Post-Adventure Check

After your adventure in Big Thicket, take a moment to rehydrate. Give your pet plenty of water to cool down. Be sure to check yourself and your pet for ticks. Stop by the visitor center to refill on water and cool down in the chairs on the patio.

Get Your B.A.R.K. Ranger Certificate

After completing the B.A.R.K. Ranger activity list, stop by the visitor center to earn your official B.A.R.K. Ranger certificate. Humans can purchase B.A.R.K. Ranger merchandise from the gift shop inside.



Is your pet prepared to hike with you in the Big Thicket? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Extreme summer heat and humidity can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion in you and your pet. Bring water, snacks, and take breaks!
  • Venomous snakes and poisonous plants live here. Use a leash and stay on the trail to keep your pet safe.
  • Ticks may be present, especially on less-developed trails. Conduct tick checks often.

Visiting National Parks With Your Pet

Want to bring your four-legged friends with you on your national park trip? Learn more about pets in the national parks »

A large dog nearly kisses a hiker as she kneels next to a large and a small dog on an arched wooden bridge with a background of trees.
Hiker and her dogs on Village Creek Bridge

NPS Photo / Max Harper

Last updated: March 26, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625



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