Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Salt Fork Loop

Salt Fork Loop map

Salt Fork loop mapMcClellan Creek National GrasslandGreenbelt LakeBar H Dude RanchJames Pinckney Rodgers Bird SanctuaryPlaya Lakes Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Taylor Lakes UnitCoyote Ridge RanchFinch RanchPioneer ParkWolf Creek Unit

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More information:

  • Clarendon COC, 806-874-2421, 800-579-4023,
  • Wellington COC, 806-447-5848

077.gif PHP 077 McClellan Creek National Grassland

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

From Wheeler, go south on US 83 for 15.6 miles to I-40. Follow I-40 west for 34.6 miles to Exit 128/FM 2477 East. Check the playa lakes on both sides of the road at 2.0 miles for ducks and shorebirds. At 3.4 miles turn left into the National Grasslands’ recreation area.

The recreation area has a large lake where Common Merganser, Canvasback, Great Blue Heron, and Bald Eagle can be found in winter. The wooded edge of the lake provides good viewing of orioles and woodpeckers in summer.


078.gif PHP 078 Greenbelt Lake

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

Return to I-40 West. Go 6.5 miles to TX 70. Go south on TX 70 for 12.1 miles and turn right at the sign for the public boat ramp.

Scan the lake from here. This large reservoir provides an opportunity to see loons, grebes, ducks, geese, and other wintering waterfowl. Cottonwood trees at several boat ramps hold nesting Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Common Grackle, Bullock’s Oriole, and other songbirds. Dragonflies and damselflies include Aztec Dancer, Banded Pennant, Eastern Amberwing, and Widow Skimmer.

Continue on TX 70 for 4.7 miles to US 287. Follow US 287 2.0 miles to FM 3257 and follow the road until it ends at the lake, 3.2 miles.

During summer, listen for Dickcissel and Western Meadowlark. At other times, check any flooded fields for shorebirds and puddle ducks. When the road turns to mesquite and low brush, watch for additional species such as Bewick’s and House Wrens, Cassin’s Sparrow, and Western Kingbird. As you reach the southern side of the lake’s western arm, continue west on the dirt roads that access additional shallow coves. Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Orchard and Bullock’s Orioles, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, and Red-headed Woodpeckers occur here. Watch for an area where small snags protrude from the water. Terns and woodpeckers roost here and Black Terns have been seen flying over these shallows.


079.gif PHP 079 Bar H Dude Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Summer

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

From Green Belt Lake, go south on FM 3257 for 1 mile to the sign for the dude ranch on the left.

This site is both a working ranch and a guest ranch with lodging, guided tours, picnics, barbecues, and events for guests. Visitors may take self-guided tours to wooded creek and river bottoms. Guided tours to observe nocturnal wildlife are also available. Temporary and permanent photo blinds are available for wildlife photography. Bison, Coyotes, Quail, Turkey, Deer, and Prairie Dogs can be seen on the ranch. The staff has hosted visiting birders from around the world, and as many as sixty bird species have been seen in one day. The Alanreed Tract, covering 4,000 acres of the ranch, is an excellent venue for birding and wildlife viewing in this part of the Panhandle.

806-874-2634 or 800-627-9871

080.gif PHP 080 James Pinckney Rodgers Bird Sanctuary

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Summer

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

A portion of this site has been set aside as part of a voluntary land steward program. A shelterbelt of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs have been planted to provide habitat for migratory songbirds and resident quail, roadrunners, doves, and flycatchers. Other parts of the property are typical of Rolling Plains grasslands, attractive to numerous species of sparrows and meadowlarks.

806-874-3332, Call for Directions.

081.gif PHP 081 Playa Lakes Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Taylor Lakes Unit

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons, Open daily except for special hunts

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

Return to US 287 and go east through Clarendon for 7.0 mile. The WMA is on the right. Leila Lake is 0.3 mile past the WMA. Lodging is available at Ace No. 8 West Texas B&B. Call for reservations; 806-664-8477.

There are three viewing blinds that offer outstanding opportunity to observe migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. Wintering Canada and Snow Geese, as well as puddle ducks, congregate here in large numbers. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded here. Habitats also include tallgrass prairie and riparian woodlands, offering opportunities to observe grassland and woodland species. Sunset spectacles of these lakes and marshes as they fill up with birds provide wonderful photo opportunities.

806-492-3405 or 800-579-4023, Playa Lakes WMA, Taylor Lakes Unit

082.gif PHP 082 Coyote Ridge Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

The native grassland, mesquite, and juniper thickets of this beautiful private ranch provide habitat for a wide variety of birds and wildlife. The canyons, overlooks, and creeks on the property are very scenic, and a hike along the creekbed provides spectacular views of the red canyon walls. Coyote Ridge has lodging for a small number of guests, with bird feeders in the front yard. Bullock’s Oriole, Painted Bunting, Northern Flicker and a variety of woodpeckers occur here, as well as flycatchers, wrens, and owls.

806-856-6200, Call for directions.

083.gif PHP 083 Finch Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

A secluded area with incredible scenic views, Finch Ranch offers a tasteful and comfortable rustic lodge built almost 100 years ago. Bird feeders near the lodge offer up-close viewing. Turkey, Roadrunner, Painted Bunting, Eastern Bluebird, and Bobwhite Quail are commonly seen on the ranch. Other wildlife includes Mule and White-tailed Deer, Bobcat, Armadillo, Squirrel, Raccoon, Porcupine, and Coyote. There are two trails that lead to a creek and a small lake, with willow-lined banks along the way. Birding, hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding are all available. Within an easy drive of the ranch, you can also visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park, American Quarter Horse Museum, Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, and the Square House Museum, where there is an exhibit on the Finch Ranch.

806-856-5930, Call for directions.

084.gif PHP 084 Pioneer Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Summer

Site open for day use only.

At the intersection of TX 203 and US 287 in Hedley, go east on TX 203 for 27.6 miles to the intersection with US 83. At US 83 turn north for 4.8 miles and turn left after the bridge over the Salt Fork of the Red River.

This site has a scenic view of the water with ample riverfront habitat, and is wooded on the south side of the river. It provides good habitat for dragonflies in summer, and during winter is a good place to watch for Sandhill Cranes in the evening. Snags on the east side of the bridge provide habitat for woodpeckers. The large trees in the picnic area provide habitat for both nesting and migrant birds. Check for a variety of ducks present in the river in winter and during migrations.


085.gif PHP 085 Wolf Creek Unit

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Summer

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

This beautiful property has over 100 acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and is planted with native grasses and flowering plants such as Maximillian sunflower and Illinois bundleflower. The variety of habitats found at the site attracts a diversity of birds, from woodland warblers to grassland sparrows. Wolf Creek, accessible down a steep dirt road best descended on foot, provides over a mile of beautiful creek bottom, wooded habitat with resident Great Horned Owls and Beavers. The creek has water year-round and attracts a wide variety of birds and other wildlife.

806-256-2058, Call for directions.

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