The Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary

The most unique and ecologically diverse area in the Big Thicket

The Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary was established in order to preserve one of the most unique and ecologically diverse natural areas of the Big Thicket region of Texas. Situated on ancient alluvial deposits of Village Creek, the Sanctuary exhibits a unique intermingling of different forest and wetland communities. Of special importance are the longleaf pine communities that occur on the uplands.

On these dry sandy soils, desert plants such as prickly pear cactus and yucca are found along with widely scattered longleaf pines and drought-resistant oaks. Although sparsely vegetated, the longleaf sandhills display the greatest variety of wildflowers in the Big Thicket. Fire adapted plants such as the rare Texas trailing phlox, white firewheel, and scarlet catchfly are found here. In contrast, adjacent low areas form ponds and baygall communities which abound with lush wetland vegetation. Rare orchids and carnivorous plants grow here among acid-loving ferns and sphagnum moss.

Visiting Sandylands

The Sanctuary is open to the public free of charge on a daily basis from sunrise to sunset. Six miles of nature trails offer hiking, photography and nature study opportuntieis. A self-guiding interpretive trail guide is available for a 0.8 mile section of the trail system. Guided tours for groups may be arranged by contacting the Pineywoods office in advance at (409) 385-1455. Volunteer opportunities are available through workday events and special projects. The sanctuary has been designated as a site on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.

Canoe Trail

Eight miles of Village Creek flow through the Sanctuary, providing an easy and enjoyable canoeing experience. This one-day float takes you through the more remote areas of the preserve’s bottomland hardwood forest. Along the creek are beautiful white sandbars and enchanting backwater baldcypress sloughs. See a list of local canoe outfitters.

A Private Conservation Effort

The core preserve at the Sandyland Sanctuary is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy of Texas, the state chapter of private international land conservation group dedicated to the preservation of biological diversity. With the support of private individuals, foundations, and businesses, The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 8 million acres of land since its establishment in 1951, including 625,000 acres in Texas.