Mining Company and Pleasant Hill Church/Cemetery
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 Rd. 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 Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird and Blue Grosbeak can also be seen. Look for soaring raptors and vultures. Search the woods around the churchyard and cemetery for Red-bellied Woodpecker and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
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 Rd.) for 2 miles to Hollybrook Dr. Turn left (west) onto Hollybrook Dr. and follow it 0.3 mile to its intersection with Fourth St. Turn right (north) on Fourth St. The entrance to Cargil Long Park is about 0.3 mile 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 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.
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 Ave., Cotton St. 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 Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, while flocks of American Robin and Cedar Waxwing 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 Cardinal, Blue Jay and Carolina Wren. Look for raptors such as Red-shouldered Hawk hunting the woodland edge.
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 (the county roads are narrow and curvy). Turn right (south) on CR 3104 (will say closed to through traffic) and follow it 1.2 miles to CR 3103. Turn right on CR 3103 and go 0.3 mile to the gardens on the left. The Daffodil Gardens are only open during the blooming season, which typically occurs Feb._March. Call to find out blooming conditions.
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. A driving loop provides access to several hundred acres. While driving through the farms, look for Great and Little Blue Herons in the wetlands scattered among the pines. Check the numerous dead trees for Red-headed Woodpecker and look among the older hardwoods along the creek for Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo and Summer Tanager. Some of the smaller creeks host Ebony Jewelwing damselflies.
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 mile to Gay Ave. Turn left (west) on Gay Ave. and follow it 1.9 miles to Pinecrest Dr. Turn right (east) on Pinecrest Dr., which dead ends after 0.2 mile 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 Eagle and Osprey on occasion. During the summer, the lake attracts swallows and Purple Martin. Eastern Kingbird and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 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 Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse.
Lake Gilmer Park & Kelsey Creek Sanctuary Nature Trail
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 mile to Cherokee Trace. Turn right (north) on Cherokee Trace and follow 3.2 miles to site downstream of the dam, west of Lake Gilmer.
This site includes 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 Prothonotary Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager and Red-bellied Woodpecker. The nearby brushy fields are attractive to Yellow-breasted Chat, Red-winged Blackbird and Dickcissel, while Black Vultures roost on the dam. The wetlands provide habitat for a variety of herons, egrets and other waterbirds.
Martin Creek Lake State Park
The park is located 20 miles southeast of Longview. Travel 3.5 miles southwest of Tatum on Hwy. 43, and then turn south on CR 2183.
Fall is a particularly scenic time at Martin Creek. Visitors can marvel at the colorful foliage displayed by the many varieties of hardwoods interspersed with loblolly and short-leaf pine trees. The park's forest shelters abundant wildlife, including swamp rabbits, white-tailed deer, raccoons, armadillos and squirrels. Park visitors enjoy excellent year-round fishing, due to water warmed by the power plant. Among the most commonly seen birds are Mallard Duck, herons, egrets, Red-headed Woodpecker and Northern Bobwhites.