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Cemeteries & Memorials, Houston Metro Area, Nonprofits & Charities, Parks & Outdoor, Sugar Land

Cullinan Park in Sugar Land, TX | A Huge Wildlife Haven

Posted: June 5, 2017 at 2:26 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Cullinan Park is a vast forested and wetland area consisting of 754 acres.  It is located off of Highway 6 just north of the Sugar Land Regional Airport.

Picnic Area in Cullinan Park

My husband and I recently visited there.  The first thing noticed after driving into the park and parking is the small but nice picnic area.  Currently there are no restroom facilities except for a porta potty.

In that same picnic area is the entrance to the boardwalk and observation tower overlooking White Lake.  I personally loved this part of the park!

From the safety of the raised boardwalk people can look down and gaze upon all types of aquatic vegetation and wildlife.  We did not personally see an alligator swimming but they are present in this park and are often spotted.

Cullinan Park is open from dawn to dusk.  Gates close automatically and there is a number provided inside of the entrance to call the Sugar Land police department if one is accidentally locked inside the park.

American Coots in Cullinan Park

There is a closeup photo showing many American Coots in Goforth Park.  We have seen these ducks with the thick white bills in other parks as well.

Some things you may not know about American Coots:

  • Often they are referred to as mudhens.
  • Groups of them are called covers or rafts.
  • They are monogamous birds most often seen in sizable groupings.

Cullinan Park view of White lake with airplane on approach to adjacent Sugar Land Regional Airport

Click here to see an enlarged Cullinan Park Trail Map as of 2016.

Prior to visiting the park I found out that much of it is fairly primitive in nature.  I had sketched out a trail map on a piece of paper and carried it with me.  Had I not done so, we could easily have gotten lost!  Some of the trails are more obvious than others however as of now none of them are marked.

Fortunately I had also read a tip to be sure and use mosquito repellent.  Except for the picnic area and boardwalk at White Lake we would have literally been eaten alive by mosquitoes had we not taken the precaution of using mosquito repellent prior to our hiking in the forested areas.

Dragonflies like to eat mosquitoes and while there were dragonflies in evidence it would have taken millions of them to dispatch all the mosquitoes buzzing about that day!  Crawfish also call this area home.

The Cullinan Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization, is in charge of promoting and enhancing the amenities in this park for people as well as protecting the wildlife.  You can read much more about this group by clicking on the highlighted words above.

The YouTube video below tells much of the story of this park in only 2:45 minutes.  I would heartily recommend viewing it.

Some of the early owners of this land are now buried in a small cemetery within this park.

Hodge’s Bend Cemetery in Cullinan Park

I squeezed through the edge of the fencing to take the photo above.  A Texas Historical Commission sign erected in 1975 located there tells the following story.

“Hodge’s Bend Cemetery

A veteran of ‘Swamp Fox’ Francis Marion’s South Carolina brigade during the American Revolution, Alexander Hodge (b. 1760) brought his family to Texas in 1825.  Hodge was prominent among the ‘Old Three Hundred’ settlers; his sons fought in the Texas Revolution.  His 1828 land grant from Stephen F. Austin, named Hodge’s Bend, included the site for this cemetery.  First grave here was that of his wife Ruth, who died in 1831.  Hodge was buried here in 1836.  The cemetery contains about 75 graves, including those of Hodge’s descendants and other early settlers in the area.  The last burial here was in 1942.”

The photos below were all taken from within the park confines.

Hodge’s cemetery could use a little help regarding the upkeep of it.  On a bench just outside the gate is a sign with two men’s names and local telephone numbers.  The sign also notes the following: “Texas Historical Non-Profit  Please donate at www.GoFundMe.com/HodgesBendCemetery

The ground was very uneven.  Some rusted benches and lawn chairs were seemingly placed in random places.  Quite a few of the grave sites were marked with simple white wooden crosses.  Overall it had a sad derelict appearance.

Many different types of wildflowers grow in other areas of the park.  Numerous wild raspberry bushes are also evident.  The photos below are a small sample of what can be found in this vast nature park.

While hiking on part of the Oyster Creek Loop Trail views of Oyster Creek take center stage.

An old abandoned roadway over the creek is shown in one of the photos above.  Unlike the photo above on the right, most of the pathways along this creek are forested in nature.

Bird watching is of great interest to many people.  I made a couple of great discoveries!

One of them was spotting the second largest woodpecker in all of the United States.  It was the Pileated woodpecker.  It is indeed large measuring from 16 to 19 inches in length!  I could not get a clear shot of it through the woods but found one to show you.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Dryocopus_pileatus

After making it back to the parking lot after exiting the forested areas I wanted to take another look at White Lake and walk on the boardwalk.

Spotting an American Bittern was most exciting!  It was the first such bird that I had ever seen.

I almost missed seeing it as it was motionless and hunkered down amidst vegetation.  When it knew that it had been spotted it started to move and extend its head upward.

American Bittern at Cullinan Park

All at once it fluffed up all its feathers and stared back at me.  That was perhaps an offensive gesture meant to frighten me off?  It is certainly a well-camouflaged bird!  In reading about them they are solitary creatures and do most of their feeding at night.  You can read more about them here.

There are plans to add many amenities to this large park including restroom facilities, additional trails and even boat launches.  My hubby has no interest in returning until at least the trails have been marked.

I would go back anytime just to see what other creatures could be spotted from that boardwalk area on White Lake.   The mosquitoes were not bothering us there as it was more open and breezy.

It will be exciting to see what becomes of Cullinan Park in the future.  It is certainly one of the largest nature parks in our metro area!  We spent many hours there and did not see it all.

Cullinan Park is located here:

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