Sabine Mining Company and Pleasant Hill
From Longview, go east on I 20 to Exit 604 (Hallsville/ FM 450). Turn right (south) on FM 450 and follow 1.5 miles to FM 968. Turn left (northeast) on FM 968. After 1.9 miles, look for the 'Pleasant Hill Cemetery' sign and turn right on Hut Horton Road. A 1.7-mile access road leads to views of the reclaimed lands.
The road leading to the Pleasant Hill Cemetery passes through reclaimed fields and forest formerly cleared for mining. Habitats along the road include open grassland, pine plantations, and small wetlands. Dickcissels are numerous in early summer. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, and Blue Grosbeaks can also be seen. Look for soaring raptors and vultures. Search the woods around the churchyard and cemetery for Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Yellow-billed Cuckoos.
Cargil Long Park
From I 20 take Exit 596 onto US 259. Go north on US 259 for 3.7 miles to US 80 in Longview, continue north on US 259 (Eastman Road) for 2.0 miles to Hollybrook Dr. Turn left (west) onto Hollybrook Drive and follow it 0.3 miles to its intersection with Fourth Street. Turn right (north) on Fourth Street. The entrance to Cargil Long Park is about 0.3 miles north of the intersection (past the medical buildings on the right).
Cargil Long Park offers the perfect setting for a morning walk in the woods. The paved trail winds through towering pines and leads the visitor into some bountiful habitats. While walking the trail, listen for avian residents high above in the canopy. The characteristic 'kiks' and rattles of Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers ring down from above as do the high-pitched trills of Pine Warblers. White-eyed Vireos and Carolina Wrens scold from the undergrowth, while the characteristic hic-coughs of Summer Tanager resound from all directions. A visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon could turn up a roosting Barred Owl or a Red-shouldered Hawk.
Phone: (903) 237-1291
Grace Creek Nature Area
From I 20 take Exit 596 onto US 259. Go north on US 259 for 3.7 miles to US 80 in Longview. Turn left (west) on US 80 for 2.5 miles to the nature area along Grace Creek, just after Spur 63. The nature area bisects Longview on US 80 about 4 blocks from downtown and crosses many neighborhood streets as well as Marshall Avenue, Cotton Street, and TX 31.
Grace Creek winds its way through central Longview and provides some valuable wildlife habitat right in the middle of town. In winter, look for flocks of songbirds, including Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, while flocks of American Robins and Cedar Waxwings strip the yaupon shrubs bare. In summer, Barn Swallows nest under the many bridges that cross the creek and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers patrol the more open areas. Throughout the year the woods are filled with Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays and Carolina Wrens. Look for raptors such as Red-shouldered Hawks hunting the woodland edge.
Phone: (903) 237-1291.
Mrs. Lee's Daffodil Gardens
From I 20 take Exit 571A onto US 271, go north on US 271 for 6.4 miles to CR 3104. Turn right (south) on CR 3104 and follow it 1.2 miles to CR 3103. Turn right on CR 3103 and go 0.3 miles to the gardens on the left.
In 1956 Mrs. Helen Lee ordered a boxcar filled with daffodil bulbs to add a splash of yellow to the deep green woods of east Texas. Today, thousands of daffodils still bloom every February and March, carrying on Mrs. Lee's legacy. Although most spectacular in early spring, the gardens are a great place to a visit any time of year. A driving loop provides access to several hundred acres. While driving through the farms, look for Great Blue and Little Blue Herons in the wetlands scattered among the pines. Check the numerous dead trees for Red-headed Woodpeckers and look among the older hardwoods along the creek for Great-crested Flycatchers, Red-eyed Vireos and Summer Tanagers. Some of the smaller creeks host Ebony Jewelwing damselflies, which scatter in flashes of green as you pass.
Phone: (903) 845-5780.
From I 20 take Exit 571A onto US 271. Go north on US 271 for 12.7 miles to the intersection of US 80 and US 271 North in Gladewater. Continue north on US 271 for 0.5 miles to Gay Avenue. Turn left (west) on Gay Avenue and follow it 1.9 miles to Pinecrest Dr. Turn right (east) on Pinecrest Dr., which dead ends after 0.2 miles into West Lake at Lake Park.
Lake Gladewater provides viewing opportunities throughout the year. In winter, the area supports a variety of waterfowl, as well as Bald Eagles and Ospreys on occasion. During the summer, the lake attracts Barn and Cliff Swallows and Purple Martin. Eastern Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers hunt insects near the lake. The short trail at the southern end of the parking area leads you below the spillway and down into a quiet wetland. Look for Mississippi Map Turtles basking on floating limbs. During migration, colorful warblers may be seen among the flocks of Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmouse.
Phone: (903) 845-5041.
Lake Gilmer Park & Mitigation Land
From I 20 take Exit 571A onto US 271, go north on US 271 for 12.7 miles to the intersection of US 80 and US 271 North in Gladewater. Continue north on US 271 for 14.4 miles into Gilmer. Turn left (west) on E. Redbud St. and follow it 0.3 miles to Cherokee Trace. Turn right (north) on Cherokee Trace and follow 2.5 miles to Lake Gilmer Dam. The property is downstream of the dam, west of Lake Gilmer.
This site is currently being developed by the City of Gilmer. Plans include trails and wildlife viewing areas. Wetlands, open grasslands, and riparian areas provide habitat for a diversity of birds and other wildlife. Search the trees along the creek for Prothonotory Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager and Red-bellied Woodpecker. The nearby brushy fields are attractive to Yellow-breasted Chats, Red-winged Blackbirds and Dickcissels and Black Vultures roost on the dam. The wetlands provide habitat for a variety of herons, egrets, and other water birds.
Phone: (903) 843-8206, ext. 206, www.gilmer-tx.com