Kleb Woods Nature Preserve is Amazing!
This natural preserve in Tomball is a nature lover’s delight! One feels far removed from living in a city or even the nearby towns while walking through the dense thickly wooded areas and wetlands. Until recently my husband and I had never even heard of it, and we have lived in Houston for most of our lives.
It is a curious story about how all of this came to be. The area which is now a nature preserve was once a family farm. It was operated for generations by what were initially German immigrants. It all came down to Elmer Kleb who was born on the farm in 1907. After his parents and sister died, he inherited the farm. He had no interest in farming but loved plants, birds, and animals.
He started planting more and more trees on what used to be prairie lands. The trees now growing there include water, Shumard, and live oaks. Loblolly pines, eastern red cedar, pecan, bald cypress, and sugarberry trees are also growing there. Understory trees like the yaupon thrive in this environment. The mixture has become a forested area attracting hundreds of species of birds. Some are migratory, and others like the brown-headed nuthatch and greater roadrunner live there permanently.
Elmer Kleb must have been quite a character! He was reported to be somewhat of a recluse, never married or had children and lived there without indoor plumbing.
His passion was for the outdoors, and the farmlands gradually transposed into what is seen there today.
Unfortunately as removed from the rest of the world as he seemed to be, Elmer neglected to pay his taxes. After amassing more than $150,000 in debt, court actions commenced. Elmer Kleb had hoped to donate all of his lands to the Audubon Society.
What ultimately happened is that some of the lands were sold to pay off the debt. With a helpful grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Harris County purchased the land. Mr. Kleb was allowed to live there until his death. So all 90 years of his life he relished his surroundings and now we get to do the same on the 132 acres which remain.
A sign inside of the Nature Center shows the following mammals to be living in Kleb Woods…
- Nine-banded armadillo
- Swamp rabbit
- Gray squirrel
- Eastern fox squirrel
- Eastern flying squirrel
- Cotton Rat
- White-tailed deer
- Mexican Free-tailed bat
The 4,900 square foot Nature Center blends in perfectly with the wooded setting and has a huge wrap around porch.
Inside are rooms with displays. In classes in an on-site auditorium, one can listen to music or learn how to speak German or learn some history among other offerings.
The Kleb house and barn are near the Nature Center. Old farm implements can be seen scattered about outside and inside of the barn. The tractor inside the barn comes from the Kleb estate, but most of the other farm equipment is donated. Most items date from around 1900.
Inside of the barn are some blacksmith tools, and during certain times blacksmith demonstrations are held there.
The part of the park that was opened to the public originally in 1994 was the northern end. There one has access to picnic tables and grills. Some trails start there. Restroom facilities exist on site. Overnight scout camping is by reservation only. The address for that parking lot is 20605 FM 2920, Hockley, TX 77447.
We started exploring the park from the southern end nearest the Nature Center. That address is 20303 Draper Road, Tomball, TX 77377. Both parking lots are paved, and admission to the park is free. The hours for the park and trails are 7 am to Dusk. The Nature Center with farm area is open from 8 am to 5 pm every day with the probable exception of holidays.
There is an approximately 2-mile loop trail with some other trails going off in different directions. One of them that we took was a dead end but quite the discovery. The marsh at the end offered up the most beautiful view of reflected trees in the water. It made that dead-end trail worth it.
Those are the kind of discoveries that make walking in this lush wooded area worthwhile.
We happened to visit on a chilly day and in fact, even wore jackets. Since this area is wooded and in places marshy, one might wish to wear mosquito repellent. My husband and I had no problem with insect bites on the day of our visit. We did get to admire some dragonflies buzzing about, and I captured one basking on the pathway which we were walking.
As to the trails, some are wooden in the marsh areas, and others are natural. Those natural areas have years worth of decaying leaves and pine needles carpeting the ground. Some of the trails are quite narrow. I was cautious to stay in the center because I am highly allergic to poison ivy.
Every year a Hummingbird Festival is held at Kleb Woods Nature Center. There are tours of the Kleb House, blacksmith demos in the barn, hummingbird experts on hand as well as people from the Audubon Society. To find out details of this years event call this number: (281) 357-5324. It would make for a fun fall season family event!
If you are a bird watcher or love to be in natural type settings, I think that you would enjoy this nature preserve. Not many people are there on a day to day basis so truly communing with nature is possible.
If you enjoy nature centers, you might also wish to visit the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.