There’s beautiful water in practically every direction at The Bird & Butterfly Inn. From massive Lake Sam Rayburn barely a mile from us, the beautiful Angelina River literally a stone’s throw from our decks, and the Steinhagen Reservoir just 20 miles south at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, you’re never short of somewhere to turn for water adventures. Steinhagen Reservoir was built in the mid-20th century to help control flooding and water flow. While Steinhagen is just a tenth of the size of Lake Sam Rayburn, its waters and the 700-acre state park surrounding it have a unique biodiversity – the Angelina and Neches Rivers meet at Town Buff, forming wetlands and marshes with an incredible variety of wildlife, tree and plant species (over 1,300!), as well as well-maintained trails winding through the landscape.
When you stay at our Jasper, Texas bed and breakfast, add a day trip to Martin Dies, Jr. State Park to your itinerary – whether you want to hike, bike or bird watch, or paddle, canoe or kayak, there’s no better place to explore the natural beauty surrounding Jasper.
A Perfect Day at the Park — Hiking, Paddling, and Birding By the Water
After enjoying an unhurried morning at our East Texas bed and breakfast, join us for coffee and the house favorite, crème brulee French toast, before making the scenic 25-minute drive south to Martin Dies, Jr. State Park. Visit the park headquarters and check out the park map there. Adults are just $4 for a day pass, and kids 12 and under are free.
Begin the day’s adventure on the one-mile Forest Trail Loop, which winds through the woods and stands of beech trees and magnificent magnolia trees. During late spring and early summer, the magnolias blossom with bright white, pink, and purple flowers that can be up to a foot in diameter, as lovely to look at as fragrant as they are to smell. After that, link up to the Slough Trail (it’s pronounced “slew”), which is two miles long and passes through the sloughs, or swamps, of Martin Dies, where enchanting water surrounds old cypress groves.
End the day by checking out the “swamp deck,” one of the most memorable parts of the park, where you can walk on a raised wooden walkway leading through the sloughs – keep your eyes peeled for the American alligators that make their home in this area.
One of the best ways to take in the vast waterways of Martin Dies, Jr. State Park is by getting out on the canoes and kayaks you can rent on-site. They’re available from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and canoes can hold up to 4 people each, while kayaks are for solo use. Get the whole crew on boats and trace the route of one of their “paddling trails.” These one-of-a-kind trails follow the lake’s coastline while dipping into marshes and protected inlets, where you’ll likely see a stunning variety of birds. Bring your binoculars for bird watching breaks between paddling, where you’ll spot everything from mallards, yellow-billed cuckoos, and blue herons to great egrets and bald eagles.
Special Summertime Events at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park
Park rangers put on several free activities throughout the summer, each with a different focus, so mark your calendars:
– The second Saturday of each month in 2023 (July 8th, August 12th, and September 9th), join a guided birdwatching tour at 8 am. There’s no extra charge beyond the $4 day pass, so bring your binoculars, sunscreen, and hiking shoes.
– On those same Saturdays at 11 am, volunteers also run free guided kayaking tours, a great way to get acquainted with the “paddling trails.” Use your kayak or rent one for the day at the park.
– On July 1st, 2023, join in the fishing fun at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park during the park-sponsored “Fishing Frenzy,” which kicks off the 4th of the July holiday weekend. Starting at 10 am, park staff will provide fishing rods and tackle for free, so show up and learn from local pros some tricks for lake fishing and finding (and catching!) some of the best bass and catfish in the country. Afterward, plan to catch the in-town fireworks show on the evening of July 1st at Sandy Creek Park in Jasper, where the whole town comes together for food, fireworks, and festive fun!
Stay with us in East Texas, where water, nature, and outdoor fun are just minutes away!