Heart of the Hills Loop
From the intersection of FM 187 and TX 39, go 8.5 miles east on TX 39 to Lynxhaven Lodge. Park in the vicinity of the Lodge, or a bit downstream toward Hunt.
Since 1986, a small colony of Great Blue Herons has nested in the sycamores and other tall trees along this stretch of the South Fork of the Guadalupe River. Watch for their large stick nests near the treetops. Neotropic and Double-crested Cormorants occur here as well. Along the road, listen for Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Painted and Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeak and Chipping Sparrow. Upslope from the road, you may hear or see Golden-cheeked and Black-and-white Warblers, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Field and Rufous-crowned Sparrows and Canyon and Bewick's Wrens. Mourning Warbler (skulking in the understory) and Nashville Warbler (active in the treetops) are among the species that have been noted during migration.
South Fork Marsh
From the intersection of FM 187 and TX 39, go 11.5 miles east on TX 39 to the marsh on the right.
This large marsh provides habitat for birds that are relatively uncommon in the Hill Country. Besides harboring songbirds in the surrounding oaks, black walnuts, sycamores, junipers and other trees, the marsh attracts Laughing Gull, Sedge and Marsh Wrens and wintering Swamp, White-throated and Song Sparrows. During the summer, watch for Green Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds and Northern Rough-winged and Cliff Swallows. Dragonflies are abundant in the summer, including Checkered and Swift Setwings, Eastern Pondhawk, Banded Pennant, Black and White Widow and Western Comanche Skimmers.
Mo-Ranch Presbyterian Assembly
From TX 39 and FM 1340 in Hunt, head west 10.7 miles on FM 1340. Turn right into the Mo-Ranch Presbyterian Conference Center.
The Mo-Ranch is a 475-acre site used as a conference center, summer camp and religious and social retreat. Its rolling grounds offer a variety of habitats, from tall oaks, sycamore and black walnut in the riparian zone to cedar, agarita, yucca and persimmon on the upper limestone slopes. Birds include Eastern Screech-Owl, Tufted Titmouse, Golden-cheeked Warbler, Scott's Oriole, Summer Tanager, House Finch, Blue Grosbeak and Rock, Bewick's and Carolina Wrens. Along the Guadalupe, watch for Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe in winter, Great Blue and Green Herons and wintering waterfowl. A restaurant, gift shop and variety of lodging are available, and activities include camping, swimming, hiking, horseback riding and canoeing.
This well-managed ranch has a diversity of wildlife and habitats that include rolling oak hills, steep slopes with stands of mixed juniper woodland, sculpted cliffs, dense riparian woodlands and the clear, cool Flat Rock Creek. Birds to see include Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos, Canyon Wren, Cliff Swallow, Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Lark and Field Sparrows and Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatchers. Fish, amphibians and dragonflies can be seen along the creek. Ranch guests may stay in cabins on-site and have access to much of the ranch's 11,000 acres.
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Kerr Wildlife Management Area
From TX 39 and FM 1340 in Hunt, head west 12.6 miles on FM 1340. The well-marked gate is on the north side of the road.
Purchased in 1950, this 6,493-acre WMA supports healthy plant and animal communities representative of the Hill Country. Two of the most sought-after bird species located here are the endangered Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler. Golden-cheeked Warbler is generally located near stands of mature cedar, and the best opportunity for viewing it on the Kerr is in the Spring Trap Pasture. Black-capped Vireo is much more abundant on the Kerr, with over 400 singing males documented during the 2000 survey. This species is mainly associated with low-growing brush, which is its preferred nesting structure. Black-capped Vireo is located throughout most of the Kerr, with the best viewing opportunities in the Doe and Fawn Pastures. Visitors need to register at the bulletin board located at the office. Regularly scheduled tours are available and additional information can be obtained from TPWD staff during office hours (M–F, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.).
Stowers Ranch Roadside on FM 340 at Boneyard Draw
From TX 39 and FM 1340 in Hunt, head west 14.4 miles on FM 1340. You will reach a long bridge with a sign for the North Fork of the Guadalupe River. Park at the east end of the bridge.
The North Fork of the Guadalupe flows beneath tall cliffs on the south bank. Scan the cliffs from either end of the bridge for both Bald and Golden Eagles roosting on the cliffs from early November to late March. One of the state's largest winter roosts of Wild Turkey occurs here as well, and late in the day these birds return to trees below the cliffs. Winter birds include Verdin, Sage Thrasher and a variety of puddle ducks. During spring and summer, watch the cliff area for breeding Zone-tailed Hawk. Wood Ducks are present much of the year in the pool on the north side of the bridge.
Kerrville Kayak and Canoe
From FM 1340 and TX 39, go east/left on TX 39 0.5 mile to picnic area on right.
This is the canoe put-in for a 4-mile trip down the South Fork of the Guadalupe, ending at the Ingram Lake boat ramp. The banks of this stretch are under private ownership, so paddling is the best way to see these clear, spring-fed waters. Paddlers may encounter bass, catfish, frogs, water snakes, Red-eared Slider and Soft-shelled Turtle, as well as river birds such as Belted and Green Kingfishers, Black Phoebe, swallows, Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler. Dragonflies and damselflies are abundant, and include the needle-like Orange-striped Threadtail, whose U.S. range is restricted to a few Hill Country rivers. The large, bright blue Comanche Dancer, another Hill Country specialty, is one of many damselflies you may see. Arrangements for canoe or kayak rental, as well as shuttle services, maps and information concerning river conditions, are available at Kerrville Kayak and Canoe, 130 W. Main St., Kerrville.
Heart of the Hills Fisheries Center
From TX 39 and TX 27 in Ingram, take TX 27 north for 9.1 miles. Entrance is on the left/south.
This TPWD fisheries research site contains 25 shallow ponds that provide excellent habitat for wintering waterfowl. Pied-billed and Eared Grebes, Northern Pintail, 3 varieties of teal, Lesser Scaup and Bufflehead are a few of the species that occur here. Killdeer, Common Snipe and Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers are other birds to look for. The ponds are particularly inviting to Hill Country frogs—Chorus, Cricket and Leopard Frogs and Bullfrog all make use of the shallow, muddy habitat. Visitors need to check in at the office (M–F, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.).
Sunset Cemetery at Heart of the Hills Research Station
From TX 39 and TX 27 in Ingram, take TX 27 north for 9.2 miles to a small road on the left that leads 0.3 mile to the cemetery, just past the Fisheries Center.
This cemetery is sparsely wooded by oak, pecan, hackberry, some cypress and a few mesquite trees. Wildflowers scattered throughout the site include green milkweed, Texas thistle, gaillardia, Mexican hat, monarda and skeleton plant. Look for butterflies such as Checkered White, Sleepy Orange, Queen and Variegated Fritillary. Orchard Oriole, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Lark Sparrow and Eastern Phoebe can also be seen here.
Mountain Home Bridge
From TX 41 and TX 27, head 0.5 mile west on TX 41 to Mountain Home Rd. Take a left and continue 0.4 mile to bridge.
This bridge overlooks Johnson Creek. From the bridge, enjoy a scenic view of the rock bottom creek bed lined with pecan, mesquite and elm trees. Above the creek lie slopes of cedar from which singing Golden-cheeked Warbler may be heard in late spring and early summer. Birds include Painted Bunting, Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, White-eyed Vireo and Canyon Wren. Wild Turkey can be spied crossing the creek. Green and Belted Kingfishers occur along the creek as well. Butterflies include Pipevine Swallowtail, Sleepy Orange, Hackberry Emperor, Question Mark, Dainty Sulphur and Red-spotted Purple. In the spring and fall, Mexican Free-tailed Bats roost beneath this bridge, and can be seen emerging at dusk and returning at dawn.