Davy Crockett Loop
Crockett Area COC
Lakeview Methodist Conference Center
From the intersection of Loop 256 and FM 322 on the south side of Palestine, travel south on FM 322 for 6.7 miles to Hwy 294. Go west on Hwy. 294 for 2.3 miles to the entrance of the center on the right. Please call ahead before visiting and check in at the office when you arrive.
Over 110 species of birds have been recorded at the 1,300-acre center. Woodlands along the property edges and near the nature trails consist of pine and mixed pine-hardwood forests. Walk the back road around the lake near the RV sites and you will experience excellent wildlife habitat with an inspiring view of the lake.
The lakeside trail follows along the south side of Lake Lemons. This trail takes you through a variety of habitats and is a great place to explore the lake edge. Wetland vegetation lines the shore edge and provides opportunity for looking at some interesting species. A variety of herons, kingfishers, waterfowl and wading birds can be found around the campus.
Hike the prayer trail that starts on the southeast side of Thunder Bridge. This trail takes you through an East Texas hardwood forest composed of eastern red-cedar, winged elm, laurel oak, mockernut hickory and dogwood. Search for resurrection ferns that grow on some of the trees. Watch and listen for a variety of birds, including Red-headed Woodpecker. Follow the many intermittent creeks winding through the area and check for anoles and other reptiles among the vegetation.
Ivy Payne Wildlife Preserve
From the intersection of US 287 and Hwy. 294 in Elkhart, head southwest for 0.34 mile to Bonner's Ferry Rd. (CR 133) and turn right. Follow Bonner's Ferry Rd. for 0.67 mile to CR 135 and turn right. The preserve is at the end of the CR 135 and parking is located to the right of the entrance sign and pavilion in the mowed grassy area.
Hike along 4 miles of sand and red clay trails meandering through the hills and slopes of a mixed pine-hardwood forest, explore vernal pools and enjoy the beauty of Spring Branch. The trails are unmarked and follow a utility right-of-way for a portion so be sure to bring a compass, map and/or GPS unit.
Forest vegetation includes water oak, sugarberry, winged elm, post oak, willow oak, redbud, mockernut hickory, black cherry, American basswood, flowering dogwood, American holly, sassafras, blackjack oak, American beautyberry and Virginia creeper. Ferns thrive in the cool dense forest and jut out from the rock walls along the creeks. Unique mushrooms and shelf fungus can be studied in several trail locations. Wood debris on the forest floor provides excellent habitat for reptiles and insects. Coral snakes, copperheads and cottonmouths occur in the area. Other wildlife observed on the property include deer, vultures, hawks, feral hogs, Red-eyed Vireo, Pileated Woodpecker, chickadees, Great Crested Flycatcher, as well as American Snout and Swallowtail butterflies.
The pipeline right-of-way that traverses the property grows abundant wildflowers, including Mexican hat, black-eyed Susan and a variety of asters. The open fields around the house produce yellow coreopsis and bee balm. Please respect the privacy of the tenants of the house.
Texas Land Conservancy participates in the Texas Parks and Wildlife public hunting program and Ivy's Wildlife Refuge is open to public hunting from October to May. The property is closed to hiking during public hunting times and is always closed to motorized vehicle usage as well as bicycles and horses.
Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site
From the intersection of US 69 and Hwy. 21 in Alto, go southwest on Hwy. 21 for 6 miles to Caddoan Mounds.
This unique site combines history and archeology with grassland and woodland habitats. At first glance, the site appears to be an open field, but further investigation reveals its unusual features.
The trail runs beside woodland as the land slopes down to a riparian area that is a great place to see wildlife. Visitors must stay on the designated trail, but several resting areas and an observation deck for the borrow pit provide excellent places to stop and look for birds and other wildlife. A cluster of elderberry grows near the platform, and when blooming in the late spring to early summer, may be a place to spot some magnificent butterflies. Black walnut trees are dominant along the trail. Watch for a nesting pair of Red-tailed Hawks, which are known to feed in the area. Barn Swallows swoop across the open prairie and in winter are joined by Northern Harriers and American Kestrels, who are regular visitors. Bald Eagles have been observed in the park and can be seen along the Neches River and a 40-acre lake located south of the park. Cedar Waxwings visit the park during migration and join nesting Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Mockingbirds.
Wildflowers abound at the park year-round. In addition to the boldly colored wildflowers, careful examination of the plants along the trail will reveal some diminutive, yet beautiful species. Lamb's ear, crimson clover, bull nettle, sensitive briar, black-eyed Susan and passion flower are just some of the species visible in late spring and early summer.
Neches Bluff Area
Between Crockett and Alto on Hwy. 21, turn south on FR 511 which is about 1 mile southwest of the Neches River bridge. Follow FR 511 for 0.6 mile, turn left on FR 511-A, and follow it for 0.3 mile. Turn right on FR 511 and follow it for 1.1 miles to the "T"-intersection at the powerline. Turn right and park about 100 yards from that turn.
Deep in the heart of the Davy Crockett National Forest, this site provides a high interspersion of habitats including wetlands, marshes, ponds, hardwood bottomlands and upland pine forest.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, Downy Woodpecker and Ruby-throated Hummingbird are just a few of the species that can be seen. Herbaceous plants include American elder, trumpet creeper, goldenrod, blackberry and wild rye. A trail crosses several small creeks, which are alive with Water Striders, caddisflies and dragonflies. Lizards, armadillo, white-tailed deer, damselflies and butterflies can also be observed along the trail.
Enjoy the beautiful wetlands along the trail, which provide scenic stopping points and great wildlife viewing. Look for wading birds and waterfowl including herons, teals and Wood Ducks.
The spring breeding season is a great time for wetland wildlife, although a variety of species can be observed year-round. Rushes, sedges and a plethora of other wetland plants line the banks of the pond. Careful observation may reveal a curious otter. Warblers are common in the hardwoods and underbrush. In September, be sure to look for the beautiful, large, white flowers of the rare Neches River rose mallow around wetland edges.
Mission Tejas State Park
The park is located 21 miles northeast of Crockett and 12 miles west of Alto on SH 21. The entrance to the park is in Weches, where PR 44 intersects SH 21.
Located near the northern end of the Davy Crockett National Forest, the park offers an atmosphere of rustic beauty and tranquility among the tall pines.
The trail from the picnic area traverses hilly terrain and winds through mixed pine-hardwood forest. Trees and shrubs are marked and an interpretive guide is available at the park entrance. Enjoy watching dragonflies and butterflies at the 3-acre pond located adjacent to the trail. Listen to frogs and watch beetles swimming on the water surface. The diverse vegetation provides excellent habitat for wildlife and birds, including Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Summer Tanager, Pine Warbler and Indigo Bunting. Migratory birds are plentiful during spring and fall. The trail continues to a boardwalk over a riparian area and pond, an opportunity to view the area from an elevated vantage point.
Big Slough Wilderness and Four-C's National Recreation Trail
From the intersection of SR 7 and FM 227 in Ratcliffe, go north on FM 227 for 0.9 mile to CR 1165. Go north 3.4 miles on CR 1165, then east on CR 1165/1170. A faded sign at this intersection directs visitors to the right. Follow to CR 1175 where another faded sign directs visitors to turn left (west). Follow this road 1.2 miles to the Wilderness Area boundary. There is a parking area on the left and a trail map. The trailhead will be a few hundred yards down on the right and left. A detailed map of the area is available from the Forest Service.
Known for its undisturbed, old growth bottomland hardwoods, Big Slough is located in the Davy Crockett National Forest. Four C's Recreational Trail traverses the area. You can also take the Big Slough Canoe Trail to the interior. The hiking trail highlights some very large, old pines and oaks. Portions of the trail have dense underbrush, including American beautyberry, a plant with excellent wildlife value. Other areas along the trail are dominated by grasses and sedges.
The fluted, muscle-like trunks of the American hornbeam and the striated, shaggy bark of the Eastern hophornbeam are distinct characteristics of some of the dominant trees along the path. You may notice the marks left by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers on many of the trees. Northern Parula, Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, vireos and woodpeckers are a few of the forest birds that may be seen. Other wildlife includes beaver, white-tailed deer and American alligator.
Alabama Creek Wildlife Management Area
From Apple Springs, take FM 357 south for approximately 6_8 miles. A series of forest roads will head east through the area. A large sign along the road will tell you that you are entering the WMA; however, there are a few tracks of private land interspersed, so only go within areas marked by the small yellow signs. For more accessible areas, take FM 2501 to Nigton to FM 2262. From the intersection of FM 2501 and FM 2262 in Nigton, travel for 1.2 miles to a roadside sign and map for the area. Holly Bluff Rd. is located 2 miles from the intersection and provides access to the Neches River. Access can be gained all along the east and west side of FM 2262. When FM 2262 meets FM 357, you can travel west on FM 357 and there will be several other access points including FR 541 and 531.
This 14,000-acre management area located within the 150,000-acre Davy Crockett National Forest includes upland pine forest, mixed aged stands of hardwood and pine forest, bottomland hardwood forests and Neches River frontage and adjacent wetlands. Holly Bluff Rd. is a great place to gain river access. Watch for hawks, owls, vultures, kites, Bald Eagle, Prothonotary Warbler, various waterfowl and wading birds along the miles of river frontage within the management area. Several paths venture from the forest roads, but these are not designated or signed trails; if you move into the interior, be careful not to get lost.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker clusters are one of the many highlights of Alabama Creek. This endangered species is sensitive to disturbance and is protected by federal law, so keep your visits short. Drive along FR 541 and FR 531 for easy access to several clusters immediately adjacent to the roadway.
Notice the charcoal black burn marks along the bases of the pine trees from prescribed burning. Forest thinning and prescribed burning are key management tools used to help maintain the required habitat of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Along FR 341, you will see both open forests and the dense understory of the mixed hardwood-pine forests. American beautyberry is often the dominant shrub species.
Notice the open, meadow-like areas within the forest that have been cleared to create openings for wildlife. Significant sunlight reaches these areas, which are often dominated by tender, nutritious grasses and forbs. These are good places to observe deer, feral hog, turkey, waterfowl, doves, quail, squirrel, rabbits and migratory game birds.