Nature Center Overview
The Baytown Nature Center is two connected peninsulas, surrounded by three bays, located on the west side of Baytown. The three bays that surround the nature center are Burnet Bay, Crystal Bay, Scott Bay. The nature center occupies about 450 acres of land. The smaller of the two peninsulas known as San Jacinto Point has been designated as a recreation area. The larger peninsula is being developed into fresh water and salt water wetlands, with mixed woodland habitat for animals, birds and other wildlife. This area has been designated as the Natural Area. The two peninsulas are connected to the nature center entrance on Bayway Drive by a heavily wooded area.
The entrance to the Baytown Nature Center is at 6213 Bayway Drive. The entrance is marked by a stone sign and a Great Texas Birding Trail sign. A beautifully landscaped, rock waterfall feature, and decorated metal gates greet visitors at the entrance. The entrance road leads to a small Visitors Center Building. Stop at the window to pay the entrance fee and to get information. Follow the road through the wooded area and onto Bayshore Drive. The road will take you past Egret Tidal Flats on your left, then curves and follows the shore of Burnet Bay. You will pass an area of large oak trees along the bay. Then you will see a shallow body of water or mudflats, depending upon the tides, called Spoonbill Slough. Spoonbill Slough is connected to Crystal Bay and water flows in and out with the tides. Bayshore Drive divides into two roads at the triangular intersection. The right fork follows along the shoreline of Crystal Bay to the San Jacinto Point Recreation Area. The left fork goes to Crystal Bay Butterfly Garden and on into the Natural Area.
San Jacinto Point Recreation Area
The San Jacinto Point Recreation Area is a narrow peninsula with Burnet Bay on one side and Crystal Bay on the other side. The recreation area has four fishing piers, an observation platform, picnic tables, benches, and a concrete walk along the shoreline of the bays. The area has large oak trees and well maintained grass lawns. This area offers an excellent view of the bays and the San Jacinto Monument is a prominent landmark across the bay. The shoreline at the point has been restored with marsh grass planting. Parking and restroom facilities are available in the area.
A Children's Nature Discovery Area playground is centrally located on San Jacinto Point. The playground has a nature theme and features concrete animals, a birds nest, tree trunks, and a rope spider-web for climbing and a Gator Hole boardwalk area for play and a Climbing Treehouse for play and discovery.
The first stopping point in the Natural Area is the parking lot at the Butterfly Garden located on the shore of Crystal Bay. Restroom facilities are located here. The Butterfly Garden is planted with a variety of native plants and wildflowers to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
This is the starting point for the nature trails that wind through the natural area of the nature center. There are five loop nature trails, of varying length, that cover all of the developed areas of the natural areas. Trail maps are located on the wood fence in front of the restrooms and the trails are marked with trail marker signs. There are over five miles of nature trails.
Most of the natural area is reserved for walking and bicycles to protect the habitat for wildlife. However, vehicles are allowed to be driven on the road to the Brownwood Pavilion. The pavilion is a covered shelter located on top of a 35 foot high hill, surrounded by wetland areas. The panoramic view from the pavilion includes the entire natural area wetlands as well as the surrounding bays. The most popular nature trail passes by the pavilion. The trail may be started at this point.
A series of winding flow channels have been cut through the low lying areas of the natural area. These flow channels connect to the surrounding bays at five different points. These flow channels provide a source of tidal water flowing through the peninsula from the bays. The flow channels were designed to create a saltwater marsh, with the planting of marsh grasses along the flow channels. In addition, several shallow ponds and fresh water marsh was created. The higher locations in the natural area are mixed woodlands and tall grasses. Two islands containing mixed woodlands were created with the flow channels.
Observation blinds and platforms are provided overlooking the ponds. A shelter and restrooms were provided on Wooster Point for the use of trail walkers.
As you walk the nature trails, you will encounter a variety of habitats that are the source of a wide variety of birds, animals, plants, wildflowers and butterflies found at The Baytown Nature Center. Some of the named natural features accessed by the nature trails are: Brownwood Marsh, Cypress Pond, Heron Haven, Duck Pond, Turtle Pond, Wooster Point, Rundell Cove, Wooster Pond, Oak Mott, Killdeer Beach, Scott Bay Overlook, and Crystal Bay Overlook.
Virtual Tour of Baytown Nature Center