Great Texas Wildlife Trails

South Padre Island Loop

South Padre Loop map

South Padre Loop mapSouth Padre IslandSPI Convention Center/ The Laguna Madre Nature TrailValley Land Fund Migratory Bird SanctuarySPI Gateway ProjectIsla Blanca County Park

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More information:

  • South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau
    Phone: (800) 767-2373 (800-SoPadre), (956) 761-3005

034.gif LTC 034 South Padre Island

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

From Port Isabel, continue east on TX 100 across the Queen Isabella Causeway to South Padre Island (SPI). Once on the Island, go north on Park Road (PR) 100/ SPI Boulevard to the end of the pavement and the undeveloped portion of South Padre Island. The beach is accessible at Beach Access #6, and at low tide a four-wheel drive vehicle may continue north to the Mansfield Cut. This stretch of beach (as well as the stretch on North Padre Island (CTC 063) south of where the pavement ends) has produced a number of rare gulls, terns, and pelagic species. Peregrine Falcons are common in winter and migration, and shorebirds such as Snowy and Piping plovers are easy to find feeding along the water’s edge.

035.gif LTC 035 SPI Convention Center/The Laguna Madre Nature Trail

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only. World Birding Center site.

Return south on PR 100 to Orca Circle and the SPI Convention Center. The Center will serve as the easternmost facility of the WBC complex. The property surrounding it offers an impressive diversity of habitats. Begin by walking around the Center’s native gardens.

Continue to the Laguna Madre Nature Trail boardwalk that extends from the parking lot of the Convention Center to the Laguna Madre. This freshwater marsh is perhaps the best spot in the U.S. to see all of the regularly occurring rails. As many as six species of rails have been seen here at one time, including both Yellow and Black. Virginia and King rails winter in this marsh, and Clapper Rail is resident. Depending on the season, watch for Marsh Wren (year round), Swamp Sparrow (winter), and Least Bittern (summer).

From the SPI Convention Center, continue south on PR 100 to Aries Dr. Go west on Aries Dr. to its end at the Laguna Madre and the Brown Pelican Inn. The Inn, with Black Mangroves nearly reaching the front door, is a private B&B that caters to birders. Contact proprietors Vicky and Ken Conway at (956) 761-2722, or visit their website at

036.gif LTC 036 Valley Land Fund Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

Continue south on PR 100 to W. Sheepshead. Turn west (right) and continue to the GTCBT sign. The Valley Land Fund owns six wooded lots in this area and is improving the property for migratory land birds. The Great Texas Birding Classic assisted in funding the purchase of this property. During migrations (particularly spring) these wooded lots on South Padre may be every bit as productive as High Island (UTC 051 - 055) or Packery Channel (CTC 062).

The Valley Land Fund, Inc.
P.O. Box 6618
McAllen, Texas 78502
(956) 686-6429

037.gif LTC 037 SPI Gateway Project

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Continue south on PR 100 to the Queen Isabella Causeway. The City of South Padre Island has constructed a trail to access the mangroves and tidal flats at the base of the Causeway. This paved walkway traverses the flats on the south side of the Causeway, curves under it, then crosses the flats on the north side to connect with a sidewalk system that continues north on the Island. Shorebirds, gulls, and terns roost on these flats, making this trail system an excellent opportunity to study these birds.

038.gif LTC 038 Isla Blanca County Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open daily. Fee charged.

Continue south on PR 100 to its end at Isla Blanca County Park. The entry fee covers a daily permit that includes Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park (LTC 022) and all other Cameron County parks. The woodlands to the right just before the Park entrance are excellent during spring migration for warblers, vireos, tanagers, buntings and orioles. Once in the Park, continue to the jetties at its south end, scan the offshore waters for pelagic birds such as Northern Gannet and Magnificent Frigatebird. These, along with additional species such as Bridled Tern and Cory’s Shearwater are better seen on a pelagic trip.

In SPI, bay cruises may be arranged through Colley’s Cruises. They regularly access the shallow waters of the Laguna Madre and South Bay, where impressive numbers of waterfowl, herons, egrets, and shorebirds may be seen. Contact Colley’s Cruises at (956) 943-2473 (BIRD), or visit their web page: For park reservations and information, contact Isla Blanca at (956) 761-5493 or

As you leave the jetties, stop by the University of Texas—Pan American Coastal Studies Lab southwest of the Sandpiper Pavilion. Their aquariums and displays are open from 1:30 - 4:30 pm, except Saturdays. Returning north on PR 100 to the Queen Isabella Causeway, check the pond in front of the Sheraton Fiesta. Diving ducks are often seen in this pond. In addition, a butterfly garden is being added at this location. Return to TX 100 and cross the Queen Isabella Causeway.

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