8-foot alligator on 40-Acre Lake

Brazos Bend State Park in Texas is home to the largest concentration of gators in the United States outside the Everglades (and Gainesville ;-)).



Two 4-foot juvenile alligators

There are an estimated 300 adult alligators in the park, and we saw a total of 120 adult and child gators on our 7-mile hike along Elm and 40-Acre Lakes.



Algae-covered alligator in Elm Lake

This 5-foot gator reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger emerging from the swamp in the movie Predator.  He looks every bit as dangerous!



Head of a large adult alligator in Elm Lake

It was a little unnerving to walk along the path lined by alligators on both sides, but the adult alligators were passive, and the babies would retreat into the water as we approached. Nonetheless, we kept our eyes open and the dogs on a tight leash.



White egret fishing in Pilant Lake

We were surprised to find so much water at Brazos Bend State Park. When you think of Texas, you probably imagine wide-open desert full of cacti. This was certainly our experience when we visited Big Bend National Park in southern Texas along the Rio Grande River. But this park near the Gulf Coast 30 miles south of Houston is mostly a floodplain for the Brazos River, and thus has many freshwater marshes full of alligators and birds, such as the white egret shown above fishing in Pilant Lake.



Turtle on a log in 40-Acre Lake

We saw many turtles sunning themselves on logs in the lakes and rivers.



American Coots in Pilant Lake

The cute American Coots flocked together like birds of a feather.



Theresa walking the dogs on Spillway Trail

Spillway Trail is a 3/4-mile levee that crosses Pilant Lake, which is actually just a big marsh.



Black water alongside Spillway Trail

The water in the channel alongside Spillway Trail was black as ink.



Ibis and Spoonbill fishing together in Elm Lake

A black Ibis and a pretty pink Spoonbill fished together in Elm Lake. There was an alligator resting on a small island about 20 feet away and watching the action.



Shadow standing alongside the Brazos River

Shadow struggled his way to the bank of the muddy Brazos River. The bank itself was a soft mud that swallowed the dogs’ paws. On their first attempt, our dogs Darby and Shadow sunk so deep in the mud they had to turn back and find more solid footing downriver.

>> Next Stop: Enchanted Rock State Park >>

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