- Castroville COC
At the intersection of US 90 and FM 471 in Castroville, go north on FM 471 for 14.5 miles to FM 1283. Go west on FM 1283 for 6.5 miles to CR 271. Go left on CR 271 for 2.1 miles to the gate on the left.
Medina Dam was hailed as the largest dam in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States when it was completed in 1912. The habitats below the dam attract Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Painted Bunting, Canyon Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Western Scrub Jay and Great-crested and Ash-throated Flycatchers. Look for egrets, herons and grebes on the lake side of the dam. In winter, look for gulls, terns, ducks and Osprey. Look for Green Kingfisher and Black Phoebe at Medina River crossings along the drive from Castroville to the dam.
Medina County Road 477 (Old River Road)
From Medina Dam, go right/south on CR 271 for 1.6 miles to CR 2615. Go left, staying on CR 2615 for 5.2 miles to the T-intersection. Go right 2.2 miles to FM 471. Go south 6.4 miles on FM 471 past Rio Medina to CR 477 on the right. This road runs along the river after 0.6 mile.
Old River Rd. follows the Medina River. As you follow CR 477, you will come to the Flat Rock Crossing. This area was once known as Canyon Crossing and was used by the Spaniards in the 1700s to transport building materials and supplies to missions established in the Frio River canyon. At the river bottom, cypress, native southern pecan, mesquite, white brush, sycamore and hackberry attract Ash-throated Flycatcher, Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, Eastern Phoebe, Green Heron, Barred Owl and Red-shouldered Hawk.
Castroville Regional Park
From US 90 in Castroville, take Geneva St. south 0.4 mile to Lisbon St. and take a right. Turn right and go 0.2 mile to park entrance on the right.
The Medina River runs through the west side of this multiuse park. The large beautiful bald cypress trees along the river bottom were the original source of lumber for building construction in historic Castroville. The cypress trees that remain are over a hundred years old. Look for migrant warblers and flycatchers in the spring and fall. Summer Tanager, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Eastern Phoebe nest here. Look for Red-shouldered Hawk, Osprey, Barred Owl, Western Kingbird and Scissor-tailed, Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatchers. Green Kingfisher regularly occurs here.
Landmark Inn State Historic Site
From US 90 in Castroville, take Florence St. south and continue 0.1 mile to parking area on left.
Rich in Texas history, this site preserves several 19th century structures, including a mill complex built in 1853. The inn offers bed and breakfast accommodations in a historical setting. This 5-acre park borders the Medina River and provides rich river bottom woodlands comprised of bald cypress, pecan, hackberry, cottonwood, sycamore, willow and mulberry. Wildflower gardens are also maintained on property. Nesting birds include Summer Tanager, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Green Heron and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Look for residents such as Red-shouldered Hawk, Great Blue Heron and Great Horned Owl. Spring and fall can be excellent times for viewing migratory warblers and tanagers. In addition to a documented butterfly list of 47 species, the park is home to an international migratory Monarch Butterfly refuge. In the second week of October, visitors can see two roost areas carpeted in hundreds of Monarch Butterflies.
Medina River Crossings (Cagnon Road and Ponder Road)
Cagnon Road: In Castroville, go east on US 90 for 1.2 miles to FM 471. Turn right/south and go 2.9 miles to Gross Ln./CR 484. Turn left and go 1.4 miles to river crossing. Cross the river and go 0.8 mile to Macdona-Lacoste Rd. Turn left and go 4.6 miles to Cagnon Rd. Turn left and go 1.8 miles to river crossing. Park here and walk along the river's edge.
The Cagnon Rd./Medina River Crossing is often low enough for wading. Look for Wood Duck, Barred Owl and Green Kingfisher. Damselflies are diverse along this part of the river. In the spring, look for migratory songbirds within this cypress-lined riparian habitat.
Ponder Road: Continue north on Cagnon Rd. 0.7 mile to Ponder Rd. on left. Drive or walk Ponder Rd.
The south side of Ponder Rd. is a large field where wintering sparrows and raptors may be seen. In the summer, the fields are covered in wildflowers. Look for roadside butterflies such as Pipevine Swallowtail, Red Admiral and Buckeye. The north side of the field is a cattail-lined ditch. Look for herons and egrets, and in the winter, Marsh Wren.