Things to see and do at this stop:
The point where you are standing was, for generations, a prime campsite. The nomadic campers were Akokisas, related to the Caddos who lived in farming villages as near as the San Jacinto River.
The Akokisas were hunter-gatherers, spending the spring and summer months camping at the mouths of rivers entering Galveston Bay, creating shell middens: the oldest known were occupied about 3,500 years ago. In late fall, they dispersed inland to hunt buffalo and to seek shelter in small groups in the woodlands. Some of them followed our creek from Buffalo Bayou to a high point above a looping meander where they could set fish traps in the deeper water near the stream's cut bank and see any one approaching from down stream.
Apparently, they spent most of their time knapping chert, making drills, awls, and delicate dart points: tiny flakes of chert in the soil are about the only evidence of their having been here. Then, one day a flood abruptly cut a new stream channel, abandoning the meander. From that day on, the meander has carried water only when the stream rises after a rainstorm.
You can see the abandoned stream course, which forms the basin below, to your left. Abandoned channels like this are called oxbows. They are standard features of all meandering streams: we have two of them within the narrow confines of the sanctuary, both hosting campsites on the upstream sides.
From the near end of Bridge 9, and near the top of the ancient cut bank, you can see a very large tree with smooth, light gray bark. It is a sugar hackberry of exceptional size. Silvery lichens and some green moss have found the tree's bark to be an ideal habitat. The tree's leaves are popular with tiny wasps and other specialized insects. Their young develop and prosper within odd-shaped galls in the stems and leaves.
The leaves also play host to several species of butterfly caterpillars. A great many birds and mammals savor the sweet fall fruit. And we once had a visiting beaver with a taste for hackberry bark. Truly a tree for all seasons.
We recommend taking the short loop trail down to see the oxbow first-hand: it is most easily viewed from about half-way down Bridge 8. The railing a bit farther along the trail offers a close view of fish and turtles in a deep-water pool, and near the exit stairway is a mulberry tree that was girdled by a hungry beaver.
You can bypass the loop by crossing the curving Bridge 9 to intersect its other end, then continuing to the next stop. On the way, you will pass two cut off ends of an abandoned boardwalk: they are interesting view points and birding platforms.
Directions to the next stop: