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Brilliantly plumed wood ducks glide through the green canopy before lighting in the black waters below. Crawfish crawl up cypress trees. Young, gawky great egrets look wide-eyed from their nest of sticks.

Originating north of Dallas, the Trinity River flows along the Texas landscape reaching Galveston Bay 550 river miles later.  Home to river otters, songbirds and alligators, the low-lying Trinity Bottomlands support a wealth of plant and animal life.  Here among the tupelo and cypress trees, half of all of the bird species identified in the United States can be found throughout the year.

Especially important is the role of the Trinity River as the lifeblood of Galveston Bay. Seasonal floods deliver vital nutrients to the bay by transporting mineral-rich waters.  This fresh water infusion helps make Galveston Bay one of the most productive estuaries in the United States.

Sustaining its own rich biodiversity while providing fuel for the equally rich Galveston Bay system, the Trinity Bottomlands help make Houston Wilderness one of the nation’s unique ecological treasures.

To lean more, download our our atlas chapter on the Trinity Bottomlands.



Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge

USACE Wallisville Lake Project

Artist Boat

Download Houston Wilderness' List of Ecoregion Sites for information on sites in all 10 ecoregions.


1) The Trinity River gained its name from Alonso de Leon in the late 1600s. Prior to this, small bands of Native American tribes inhabited the area, including the Akokisa, Orcoquisac and Atakapa.

2) In addition to being an important historical area, the current economic and environmental roles of the Trinity River are just as important. Over 20 reservoirs are built around the river and supply a large portion of Houston’s water.

3) The frequent flooding of the river has left a big mark on the surrounding area, hydrating nearby soils that support the wealth of plants, animals and landscapes that exist in the bottomlands.

4) The Trinity Bottomlands run from southern San Jacinto County to northern Chambers County with the heart of the bottomlands in Liberty County.

5) Approximately 105,000 acres of this biologically significant area were selected as part of the Trinity National Wildlife Refuge in 1999.

6) Species counts extend to nearly 650 plants, 275 birds, 50 fish, 25 mammals (including beaver, otter, bobcats, gray fox, red fox, white-tailed deer and numerous bat species) and 25 reptiles (including alligators). In addition, 66 butterfly species have been documented as well as many endangered species like the bald eagle, brown pelicans and arctic peregrine falcon.

7) The Trinity National Wildlife Refuge is a birdwatching hot spot, offering thousands of acres of diverse wildlife habitats for the 275 species of birds found in this area.

8) Champion Lake, found in the Trinity Bottomlands, has a 150-foot fishing pier where bass, crappie and catfish can be caught swimming in the waters below.

9) Most visitors to the area will hear the chorus of frogs, but rarely encounter them. However, the hummingbirds and butterflies are much more social.

10) The refuge offers shelter to numerous species of migratory birds such as summer tanager, vermilion flycatchers, and even some rare species like the Henslow’s sparrow and sedge wrens.


Banner Photo by Deborah January-Bevers