- Sabine County COC, (409) 787-3732, www.sabinecountytexas.org
- San Augustine COC, (936) 275-3610, www.sanaugustinetx.com
Bannister Wildlife Management Area
From Pineland, go west on FM 83 for 17.3 miles to Hwy 147 in Broaddus. Turn right (north) on Hwy 147 and go north 2.0 miles to the WMA. The area can also be accessed from Hwy 103 about 20 miles east of Lufkin by turning south on FM 1277, FSR 301, Hwy 147 or FM 705.
Bannister WMA is part of Angelina National Forest and leased corporate lands. The area provides habitat for a diversity of birds, including the restored Eastern Wild Turkey and the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The wide variety of native and migrating species of birds makes the area a special bird watching location all year long. White-tailed deer and small fur bearing animals are common. The 28,063-acre area includes the Turkey Hill Wilderness. Habitat includes mature stands of loblolly and slash pine, with hardwood trees such as sweetgum, flowering dogwood, red maple, laurel oak and American elm occurring in the riparian areas.
Primary management of the vegetation includes controlled burns necessary to maintain the open understory required by Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Multiple clusters of this endangered bird are present on the WMA. Visitors are reminded to minimize noise and disturbance to the cavity trees, particularly during the nesting season. The relatively open nature of these mature pine stands provides high visibility for viewing Bachman's Sparrow and Sedge Wren in summer and Grasshopper and Henslow's sparrow in winter.
Phone: (409) 384-6894, Bannister WMA
Ralph McAllister Park
From the intersection of US 96 and TX 103 approximately 20 miles south of Nacogdoches, go west on TX 103 for 16.0 miles to the park entrance (to the south just after crossing the Sam Rayburn Reservoir Bridge).
This small park offers a variety of habitats, including mature mixed woods, pine forest, hardwood sloughs, and lakeshore. The upland mixed woods and pine forest provide habitat for Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian and Great Crested Flycatchers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos, as well as several warbler and woodpecker species. The shoreline and open lake provide great opportunities to observe wading shorebirds, Eared and Horned Grebes, dabbling and diving ducks, Common Loons and the occasional Bald Eagle. This compact site offers diverse wildlife viewing and pleasant surroundings.
Phone: (936) 564-7351.
Bird Islands - Lake Sam Rayburn
From the intersection of Hwy 63 and SR 147 in Zavalla, go northeast on SR 147 approximately 6.0 miles to the SR 147 Bridge as it crosses Lake Rayburn below Broaddus. The Bird Islands are on the east side of the highway, but birds, particularly waterfowl, are often on both sides of the road. Parking is available on the roadway shoulder and at pull-offs on the north shoreline.
The shallow waters located at the north end of the SH 147 Bridge over Lake Sam Rayburn provide excellent habitat for wintering waterfowl as well as resident water birds. The bridge offers excellent lake views. Water levels will often determine the species of birds present. Parking is available along the north side of the bridge along the shoulder and at pull-offs located at the north shoreline.
Resident species observed during all seasons include Great Blue and Little Blue Herons, Pied-billed Grebe, and Great and Snowy Egrets. During the summer months look for Tricolored Heron, Neotropic Cormorant, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, and Wood Stork. Winter is the best time to look for Common Loon, Horned Grebe, American White Pelican, Bonaparte's and Ring-billed Gulls. Dabbling ducks such as Green-winged and Blue-winged Teals, Mallard, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, and Gadwall can be observed in the shallow water areas, whereas divers such as Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck are more common in deeper water. River Otter are sometimes seen. A lawn chair and a pair of binoculars will help you experience all that the Bird Islands have to offer.
Phone: (936) 897-1068.
Upland Island Wilderness and Longleaf Ri
From the intersection of US 69 and SR 63 in Zavalla, go east on SR 63 for 7.1 miles to FR 303. Turn right (south) on FR 303 and follow it south to the site. The area can also be accessed to the east of Hwy 63 by FSR 308, 347 and 333.
The Upland Island Wilderness Area spans 13,331 acres of spectacular pine forest with bogs and hardwood bottomlands leading to the Neches River. The Longleaf Ridge Special Area is approximately 32,300 acres and is located east of the Upland Island Wilderness Area. Located within the Angelina National Forest System, the Longleaf Ridge Special Area is bordered by the Sam Rayburn Reservoir to the north, and includes two shoreline recreation areas: Sandy Creek and Caney Creek. The Longleaf Ridge Special Area is managed specifically for Red-cockaded Woodpecker and associated upland species such as Eastern Wild Turkey. Two sites within the area, Boykin Spring and Bouton Lake are also listed on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. The area provides for ample hiking and horseback riding as a way to enjoy the wildlife.
Birding in the area is excellent. The shorelines provide habitat for water birds such as Pied-billed Grebe, Cattle and Snowy Egrets, Forster's Tern, Belted Kingfisher, and various herons. Resident birds inhabiting the woodlands include American Kestrel; Blue Jay; Carolina Chickadee; Tufted Titmouse; Carolina Wren; Red-bellied, Downy, and Pileated Woodpeckers; Eastern Bluebird; and Pine Warbler. Chuck-will's-widow; Wood Thrush; American Redstart; Louisiana Waterthrush; Indigo and Painted Buntings; and Eastern Towhee occur in summer. In winter look for American Woodcock, and Grasshopper, Henslow's, Bachman's and LeConte's Sparrows.
The mixed woods along riparian areas support Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian and Great Crested Flycatchers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos. The best opportunity for viewing Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Eastern Wild Turkey occur while heading south on FSR 313 and FSR 326.
Phone: (936) 897-1068.
From intersection of TX 21 and US 96 in San Augustine, go east on TX 21 for 0.4 miles to San Augustine Civic and Tourism Center. Ayish Bayou is behind the center.
The San Augustine Civic and Tourism Center is located on the upper reaches of the Ayish Bayou. Although the Bayou at this location is only about 10 feet wide, the associated riparian vegetation provides exceptional habitat for a number of bird species. Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Tufted Titmouse and Cliff Swallows nest in the area. White-eyed Vireo, Painted and Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Dark-eyed Junco can be seen during migration and also occasionally nest nearby. Look overhead for Red-tailed Hawks or Black Vultures. The long, planked walkway from the Tourist Center across Ayish Bayou to the Caboose offers excellent viewing opportunities.
The site is operated by The City of San Augustine and the grounds are open to the public year round. Be sure to visit the Tourism Center to learn more about local history and see the beautiful gold leaf paintings and woodcarvings.
Phone: (936) 275-3610, www.sanaugustinetx.com
Trail Between the Lakes
From Pineland, follow FM 2426 east for 10.0 miles to Hwy 87. Turn right (south) on Hwy 87 for 3.0 miles to FM 2928. Turn left (east) on FM 2928 for 3.5 miles to end of paved road, continue 4.0 miles to the campground. The Trail Between the Lakes is a 28-mile hiking trail from Lakeview Recreational Area on Toledo Bend to Hwy 96 East near Sam Rayburn Reservoir just south of Devil's Ford Bridge.
Step out into the wilderness as you trek down this 28-mile trail that takes you through a variety of east Texas habitats. The trail extends from Toledo Bend to Sam Rayburn Reservoirs and is maintained by members of the Sierra Club - Golden Triangle Group. While dominated primarily by pine forest, pockets of riparian, mixed woods, and deciduous forest are also encountered while traversing the trail. Multiple access points are available to allow hikers to decide the length of their trek. The trail extends northward to the Moore Plantation Wildlife Management Area and crosses Devil's Ford and Curry Creek before intersecting FM 2426. The Trail turns westward through the managed pine forest of Moore Plantation, intersecting Hwy 87, and continuing through the Sabine National Forest until its end at the Lakeview Recreational Area.
The trail passes through an active Red-cockaded Woodpecker cluster as it approaches FM 2426 in the Moore Plantation WMA. Other bird species likely observed include Prairie and Pine Warblers; Bachman's, Grasshopper and Henslow's Sparrows; and various woodpeckers.
Phone: (409) 787-3870, www.fs.fed.us/r8/texas/recreation/index.shtml
From the intersection of Hwy 1/ FM 2426 in Pineland, travel east on FM 2426 for 3.8 miles to its intersection with FSR 152. Turn left and follow to the WMA.
Restoring the pine forest to its natural state has been the management goal for the Moore Plantation Wildlife Management Area. With recurring controlled burns on much of the property, the WMA is being restored to a healthy mixture of mature pine trees with an open understory; a habitat requirement for the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
The open understory also provides habitat for birds such as Painted and Indigo Buntings, Prairie and Pine Warblers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, American Woodcock, Bachman's Sparrow, Sedge Wren, and Grasshopper and Henslow's Sparrows. In addition to Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Pileated, Downy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers can also be observed in this habitat type.
The Moore Plantation Wildlife Management Area covers 25,601 acres. Visitors can see the area by vehicle on the Forest Service roads. Trails for hiking and horseback riding are also available. White-tailed Deer and Eastern Wild Turkey are common on the area, and traveling south on FSR 114 provides a good opportunity to see turkeys.
Phone: (409) 384-6894, Moore Plantation WMA
Willow Oak Recreation Area
From Pineland, follow FM 2426 east for 10.0 miles to Hwy 87. Turn right (south) on Hwy 87 for 11.0 miles and follow to the entrance.
Willow oaks are a dominant feature at this recreation area. Habitats include mature mixed pine/hardwoods, lakeshore, freshwater marshes, and hardwood sloughs.
The upland forest provides habitat for birds such as Barred Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian and Great Crested Flycatchers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos, in addition to several warbler and woodpecker species. The shoreline and open lake area provides extensive opportunities to spot wading birds, Eared and Horned Grebes, dabbling and diving ducks, and Common Loons.
Phone: (409) 787-3870; (409) 565-2273.
From Pineland, follow FM 2426 east for 10.0 miles to Hwy 87. Take Hwy 87 south approximately 10.0 miles to FM 255 East. Follow FM 255 East to FR 196 and head left for 4.0 miles to the park.
The Stark Tract is being restored to open longleaf pine forest. While no active Red-cockaded Woodpecker clusters are currently present at the site, management to restore suitable habitat is underway. Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers are commonly seen, along with Eastern Wild Turkey, Painted and Indigo Buntings, Prairie and Pine Warblers, and various sparrow species. Openings along the 4-plus miles of gravel road provide vistas of distant pine forest. The site is located on a steeply sloped peninsula that extends into Toledo Bend Reservoir. Frogs and turtles along with Little Blue and Great Blue Herons, and Great and Snowy Egrets frequent the coves.
Phone: (409) 787-3870.
Hillside Inn & RV Park
From Hemphill, take Hwy 87 south 15.0 miles to FM 3315. Go east on FM 3315 for 6.0 miles to the T-intersection and turn right on Hickory Hills for 0.5 miles to the Inn and RV park on the left.
Facilities at this lakefront site include a seven-room inn, multiple RV slots, a boat ramp, pavilion, recreation room and other amenities. The relaxed atmosphere of the facility invites you to sit on the porch swing and watch the birds at the feeder. Wading birds can be observed in the cove and along the shoreline and a diversity of songbirds can be enjoyed during spring and fall migrations. Over 71 species of birds have been recorded at the site.
Phone: (409) 579-3422, www.toledo-bend.com/hillside
From Pineland, follow FM 2426 east for 10.0 miles to Hwy 87. Turn right (south) on Hwy 87 for 3.0 miles. Turn left (east) on FM 2928 for 3.5 miles to end of paved road, continue 4.0 miles to the campground.
Lakeview Campground is surrounded by Toledo Bend Reservoir on three sides, providing visitors with unobstructed views of the lake year round. Operated by the Sabine River Authority, the campground is the eastern trailhead of the Trail Between The Lakes. Mixed forest, pine forest and cypress/willow sloughs provide for a diversity of wildlife.
With lots of shoreline and coves, ample viewing of shorebirds and water birds is available year round. Resident woodland inhabitants include American Kestrel, Red-bellied, Downy, and Pileated Woodpeckers; Blue Jay; Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse; Carolina Wren, Pine Warbler, and Eastern Bluebird. During the summer look for various warblers, thrushes and buntings. Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Common Nighthawk, Acadian Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, Broad-winged Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Summer Tanager, and Orchard Oriole are particularly attracted to the area's sloughs. Look for migratory songbirds during the spring and fall months.
Phone: (409) 787-3870; (409) 565-2273, www.fs.fed.us/r8/texas/recreation/index.shtml
Indian Mounds Wilderness Sabine Nation
From Highway 87 in Hemphill travel east on Highway 83 for 6.7 miles. Turn south on FM 3382 for 3.7 miles then left on FST 130 to park entrance.
For the more adventurous naturalists, the 12,369-acre Indian Mounds Wilderness Area has a lot to offer. Be sure to bring your compass or GPS and carry a topographic map to get to the remote points of interest in this area. The trail system and old logging roads offer ideal hiking and horseback riding opportunities for remote wildlife viewing. An active Bald Eagle nest can be observed in the Hurricane Bayou drainage.
Birding in the area is excellent. Birds observed year round include Pied-billed Grebe, Little Blue and Great Blue Herons, Cattle and Snowy Egrets, Yellow-crowned Night- Heron, Forster's Tern, and Belted Kingfisher. Resident bird species include American Kestrel; Blue Jay; Carolina Chickadee; Tufted Titmouse; Carolina Wren; Red-bellied, Downy, and Pileated Woodpeckers; Eastern Bluebird; and Pine Warbler. Chuck-will's-widow; Woodthrush; American Redstart; Louisiana Water thrush; Indigo and Painted Buntings; Eastern Towhee; and numerous warbler species frequent this area in summer. Other birds such as Bald Eagle, American Woodcock, and Grasshopper, Henslow's and LeConte's Sparrows prefer Indian Mounds during winter. The Wilderness Area is best suited for the energetic naturalist, whereas the nearby recreational area provides for a less strenuous adventure.
Phone: (409) 787-3870, www.fs.fed.us/r8/texas/recreation/index.shtml
Longleaf Pines Park
From Hemphill, go west on TX 184 for 4.7 miles to its intersection with FM 2024. The park is located on the southwest corner.
One of the earliest roadside parks in Texas, the Longleaf Pines Park was constructed by Texas Department of Transportation in 1936. The original park benches still remain guarded by the shade of mature longleaf pines. The grassy understory is dotted with wildflowers. A small riparian strip dissects the property providing shrubs and taller herbaceous vegetation. While the park is relatively small, it is a good place to view birds and butterflies.
Bird species utilizing the area will vary among season, but resident Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, and Tufted Titmice remain year round. Look for Bachman's Sparrow and Painted Buntings during the summer months and Sedge Wren, Henslow's and Grasshopper Sparrows during the winter. Along the woody edges of the adjacent forest habitat look for Northern Bobwhite, Brown Thrasher, Lark Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark and Loggerhead Shrike.