Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Mission Loop

Mission Loop map

Mission Loop mapSouthside Lions Park EastCalaveras Lake ParkBraunig Lake ParkMission Espada and AquaductMitchell Lake Wetlands Wildlife RefugeMedina River SiteApplewhite CrossingHidden Valley Recreational ParkDilley Cemetary and Crawford RoadLone Star Camp, Franklin Ranch

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More information:

  • San Antonio CVB
    210-207-6700, 800-447-3372,

099.gif HOTE 099 Southside Lions Park East

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Return to the intersection of Alamo Heights Blvd. and Devine. Go north on Devine to the intersection of Jones-Maltsberger. Go north on Jones-Maltsberger for 0.7 mile to US 281. Take US 281 South 7.5 miles to I-10/US 90 East. Go 2.2 miles to US 87 South. Go 0.7 mile east on US 87 South to Pecan Valley. Go south 0.9 mile to park entrance.

Salado Creek runs through the park and habitats include large bald cypress, mesquite, and pecan trees. Grassy areas with blooming wildflowers attract a variety of butterflies. Dragonflies such as Sulphur-tipped Clubtail, Neon Skimmer, Roseate Skimmer, Eastern Pondhawk, Blue Dasher, and Common Green Darner abound. Look for Eastern Bluebird, American Crow, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Pied-billed Grebe, Western Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, and Great Blue Heron. This is an excellent stop for migrant warblers and flycatchers in spring. Look for a variety of ducks on the lake in winter.

100.gif HOTE 100 Calaveras Lake Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

Continue south on Pecan Valley for 0.5 mile to Southcross Blvd. Turn east/left and go under Loop 410 (becomes New Sulfur Springs Road). After 9.8 miles, turn south/right on Stuart Rd. and go 3.8 miles to Bernhardt. Turn right on Bernhardt and follow to park entrance.

This large multi-use park offers camping, picnicking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Along the reeds, look for Common Yellowthroat, Pied-billed Grebe, and Common Moorhen. During the winter months, look for rails, bitterns, Swamp Sparrow, and Marsh Wren. In the brush, look for passing migrants such as warblers and flycatchers in the spring and the fall. In summer, the tall grass fields are a great place to spot butterflies such as Variegated Fritillary and Bordered Patch. In winter, these fields provide habitat for a variety of sparrows.

Phone: 210-635-8359.

101.gif HOTE 101 Braunig Lake Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

Return to Stuart Rd. and go south 0.6 mile to Loop 1604. Turn right and proceed 9.5 miles to I-37. Go north on I-37 for 1.3 miles to Exit 127 for Braunig Lake. Continue straight on the frontage road 0.8 mile to entrance.

The mesquite-oak brush around the lake houses residents such as Orchard Oriole, Pyrrhuloxia, Curve-billed Thrasher, and Greater Roadrunner. Scan the lake and shoreline vegetation for Least and Pied-billed Grebes, Green Heron, Common Moorhen, and Great and Snowy Egrets. In the fall and winter, look for loons and gulls. Rare sightings such as Sooty Tern, Great Kiskadee, Brown Pelican, Mew, Sabine’s, and California Gull have occurred here.

Phone: 210-635-8289.

102.gif HOTE 102 Mission Espada and Aqueduct

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Winter

Site open for day use only.

Return to the frontage road and go north 2.3 miles to I-37. Go north on I-37 for 3.3 miles to Loop 410 South. Heading south, take the exit for Espada Rd. to the Mission Trail. There is signage for the Mission Trail throughout the area. Go 0.2 mile to stop sign, turn right, and follow 0.5 mile to Mission. Return to stop sign and go 0.8 mile to Aquaduct.

Mission Espada is the oldest Mission in Texas. It still functions on its original 1740’s aqueduct and irrigation system. Around the main part of the church are bird feeders. Look for Black-chinned Hummingbird. Check for herons and egrets, Barred Owl, Golden-fronted, Ladder-backed and Downy Woodpeckers. The river is home to Wood Duck and Pied Billed Grebe. Winter can produce American Pipit, Spotted Sandpiper and various sparrows along the river’s edge. Also look for wintering waterfowl such as Hooded Merganser. The Aqueduct area also provides a nice riparian habitat for spring and fall migrants.

San Juan Woodland Trail: Follow the National Park Service signs to the San Juan Mission. At the aqueduct, turn left, and follow to the bridge. Turn right and go 0.3 mile to Mission Rd. Turn right again and go 0.5 mile to mission on right.

This 1/3-mile trail follows the riparian woodland along the original channel of the San Antonio River. The boardwalk trail is wheelchair-accessible. The river edge is heavily vegetated. This is a good site for migrating warblers and flycatchers. Residents include Carolina Chickadee, White-eyed Vireo, Wood Duck, Great Blue Heron, Green Kingfisher, and Ladder-backed and Downy Woodpeckers. Summers produce a variety of dragonflies and butterflies.

103.gif HOTE 103 Mitchell Lake Wetlands Wildlife Refuge

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead.

Return on Espada Rd. to Loop 410 and go west 2.6 miles to Exit 46. Go south on Moursund/Pleasanton Road for 0.7 mile to entrance gate on left.

The Mitchell Lake Wetlands Wildlife Refuge is San Antonio’s premier birding location. In addition to the lake and ponds, this site also provides brush land, grassland, and mudflat habitats. Common birds include Harris’s and Red-tailed Hawks, Crested Caracara, Greater Roadrunner, Black-necked Stilt, Blue Grosbeak, and Neotropic Cormorant. Migration brings several species of warblers, large numbers of ducks, and a wide assortment of shorebirds. Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons form a rookery on the northeast part of the lake. Groove-billed Ani has also nested here.

Winter is an outstanding time to visit this site. Vermilion Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Cinnamon Teal, as well as numerous sparrows and ducks winter regularly at Mitchell Lake. Rare sightings are not restricted to any particular season: unusual birds often make an appearance, especially after severe weather. Past rare sightings include Magnificent Frigatebird, Ringed Kingfisher, Reddish Egret, and Great Kiskadee. Least Grebes and Roseate Spoonbills are seen from time to time as well.

Look for dragonflies such as Four-Spotted Pennant and Eastern Pondhawk, and butterflies such as Bordered Patch, Buckeye, Variegated Fritillary, and Pipevine Swallowtail.

Phone: 210-308-6788. Phone for access.

104.gif HOTE 104 Medina River Site

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead.

From Mitchell Lake, go south 4.4 miles on Pleasanton to Neal Road and turn right. Go 0.7 mile on Neal Road and then turn right. The entrance gate is 0.3 mile.

This site provides excellent birding and wildlife viewing in mixed brush and riparian woodland habitats along the Medina River. Mesquite woodlands, brush/cactus scrub, and grasslands create a rich and diverse viewing site. Look for Vermilion Flycatcher, Curve-billed Thrasher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren, and Western Scrub Jay.

Phone: 210-704-7866.

105.gif HOTE 105 Applewhite Crossing

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Return to Neal Rd. and go west/right 2.5 miles to Applewhite Road. Take Applewhite Road to the north/right for 0.8 mile. The bridge is just past Jett Road.

En route to this site, note the 5-mile stretch of Applewhite north of this crossing. These roadsides are excellent places to find sparrows and towhees in the winter. In spring and summer, wildflowers are in full bloom. Gaillardia, Mexican hat, wine cup, verbena, and sunflowers attract numerous butterflies, including Gulf Fritillary, Pipevine Swallowtail, and various sulphurs.

At the crossing, park along the road and follow the trail below the bridge. Large cottonwoods, hackberries, and pecans line the creek bottom. Look for Red-Shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, and Carolina Chickadee. Damselflies are common, as are dragonflies such as Five-striped Leaftail and Neon Skimmer. Observe from the roadside. Most of the land is private property, so please don’t trespass.

106.gif HOTE 106 Hidden Valley Recreational Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

From Applewhite Crossing, take Applewhite Road 1.4 miles north to Watson Road. Go left on Watson for 1.4 miles and cross the highway. Where Watson splits, veer left to return to Watson. Continue on Watson for 4.9 miles. Turn left on Campground Road and follow 0.6 mile to Coleman Way. Turn right and go to the registration house.

In winter, look for American White Pelican, American Pipit, Long-billed Curlew, American Goldfinch and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. In summer, look for Painted Bunting, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Eastern Bluebird, Barred Owl, Crested Caracara, Green Kingfisher, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Spring migration produces warblers, tanagers, and flycatchers, including Brown-crested Flycatcher. The park offers camping, fishing, and RV hookups.

Phone: 210-623-6737.

107.gif HOTE 107 Dilley Cemetery and Crawford Road

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

From the intersection of I-35 and Loop 410 in south San Antonio, take I-35 South for 57.7 miles to Dilley. At Exit 86, veer right to stay on the I-35 frontage road heading south. After 0.5 mile, turn right onto Hugo Street/CR 4670. Cemetery is on the left.

Birds and butterflies are abundant within this wooded cemetery. Juniper, oaks and willows provide shade and habitat. Look for Eastern Phoebe, Bullock’s Oriole, Ash-throated and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Curve-billed Thrasher, Common Nighthawk, Summer Tanager, and White-eyed Vireo. Migrating warblers and flycatchers can be seen during spring.

Return south on I-35 to its intersection with TX 85. Turn left on TX 85 East for 3.2 miles to CR 3800/ Crawford Road.

The grass fields with mixed brush on either side of Crawford Road provide habitat for Dickcissels in the summer. Look for Lark and Black-throated Sparrows, Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren, and Northern Bobwhite. In the winter, the area has a diversity of sparrows. At both locations, look for soaring raptors, as well as scavengers such as Chihuahuan Raven.

108.gif HOTE 108 Lone Star Camp, Franklin Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

This 5500-acre ranch provides extensive habitat for exploring the native brush country of south Texas. San Miguel Creek provides excellent riparian habitat. Expect to find Long-billed Thrasher, Curve-billed Thrasher, Green Jay, Vermilion Flycatcher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Harris’s Hawk, and a variety of other Brush Country specialties. Wildlife viewing blinds are available for photography, and guided nature tours can be arranged.

Phone: 361-274-3514. Call for Directions.

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