Little Sandy Loop
- Grand Saline, (903) 962-7147, www.grandsaline.com/chamber/chamber.html
- City of Mineola, (800)-MINEOLA, www.mineola.com
- Mineola COC, (903) 569-2087, www.chamber.mineola.com
Pine Mills Pottery
From the intersection of US 80 and US 69 in Mineola travel north on US 69 0.2 miles to FM 49, turn right (east) onto FM 49 and travel 13.0 miles to Pine Mills Pottery on the left.
Daphne and Gary Hatcher have been making world-class pottery in the woods of east Texas since 1979. Their gallery and studio are regularly open to visitors as is access to their beautiful patch of pine and hardwood forest. Visitors who take the time to explore their property will find a plethora of wildlife. The towering pines hold numerous Pine Warblers and echo with the songs of Brown-headed Nuthatches. A trail leads from the Hatcher's gallery to a well-vegetated pond that attracts waterfowl during the winter. Look for Banded and Diamond-backed watersnakes as well as dragonflies such as Widow Skimmer and Eastern Pond Hawk. Moist areas along the trail support a ground cover of ferns and spring-fed creeks drain into the lake. Look for a variety of wildflowers during spring.
Phone: (903) 857-2271, www.pinemills.com
Little Sandy National Wildlife Refuge
From the intersection of US 69 and US 80 East in Mineola, go east on US 80 approximately 12.6 miles. The NWR is bounded on the south by the Sabine River, on the north essentially by Hwy 80 and on the east and west by adjacent private property. (Note: Site also has access from Hwy 80 approximately 5.0 miles west of Hawkins).
Probably the last substantial block of old growth bottomland hardwood forest in Texas, this site offers a rare opportunity for nature enthusiasts. Visitors to the site will experience the rich diversity of life that characterizes old growth bottomland forests, and perhaps gain a greater appreciation for why this habitat is a high conservation priority in Texas.
Located within the Sabine River floodplain, this bottomland forest has been managed by the Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club since 1902 and was included in the National Wildlife Refuge system in 1986. A variety of wetland habitats comprise the 3,802-acre site. Two shallow lakes constructed early in the 20th century provide considerable acreage in perennial emergent plant communities. Several oxbow lakes have shrub swamps associated with them. Because of the high quality and varied habitats, a large variety of birds can be viewed on the site during all seasons. Waterfowl, wading birds, and forest birds are especially notable. Look for Barred, Great Horned and Eastern Screech Owls, and Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks. Nesting birds include Prothonotary Warbler and Northern Parula. Cattle Egrets nest in a rookery on one of the lakes. A visit to Little Sandy is a unique and memorable experience for anyone interested in birds and quality habitats.
Phone: (903) 769-2268.
Tyler State Park
From I 20 East in Tyler, take Exit 562 for FM 14. Go north on FM 14 for 2.0 miles to the park entrance located at the intersection with PR 16.
Tyler State Park is a 994-acre facility constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934. The park offers fishing piers, 2.5-mile hiking trail, 0.75 mile interpretive nature trail, 13-mile mountain bike trail, swimming, camping, boating and boat rental, hiking, and great wildlife viewing. The trails take visitors through varied habitats that support a wide array of birds and other wildlife. For the more adventurous, the park has a challenging mountain bike trail system that follows steep terrain around the 65-acre lake.
Along the shoreline of the lake, look for regulars such as Wood Duck and Great Blue Herons and visiting Gadwall, American Widgeon, Redhead Duck and Spotted Sandpiper.
In summer, watch for residents such as Red-shouldered Hawk, Black and Turkey Vulture, Eastern Screech Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting, Louisiana Waterthrush, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Chuck-will's-widow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Indigo Bunting, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Pine Warbler. During winter months, look for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, Eastern Towhee, Gold-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-throated, Lincoln's and Song sparrow, Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch.
Phone: (903) 597-5338, Tyler SP
Red Rock Hill Farm
From the intersection of I 20 East and Hwy 69 (Exit 556) in Tyler, go north on Hwy 69 for 3.5 miles to Lindale. Continue north on Hwy 69 thru Lindale for 4.0 miles to CR 452. Turn left (west) on CR 452 for 1.1 miles; turn left (south) on CR 4119 (Lem Pool Road) and travel 0.9 miles to entrance on right.
A view from the highpoint of the farm shows the beauty and diversity of this property. Habitats include restored native prairie, riparian woodland, pond, and pasture.
Look for Bobwhite Quail, Brown Thrasher, American Kestrel, Eastern and Western Meadowlark, and Vesper, Savannah, and LeConte's Sparrows in grassland areas. Water birds can be observed preening along the pond's edge. Watch for stalking Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Little Blue Heron.
Phone: (713) 946-1278; 832-724-8759, www.redrockhillfarm.com
From the intersection of Hwy 69and FR 176 in Lindale, go north on Hwy 69 approximately 4.8 miles to the park entrance on the left.
This multiuse park includes a paved walking trail that weaves through loblolly pine, deciduous woodland and open fields as it makes its way around a 15-acre lake. Expect to see or hear Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Painted Bunting, American Robin, and White-breasted Nuthatch.
Along the shore of the lake, look for Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great Egret, Belted Kingfisher, Great and Little Blue Heron, and Pied-billed Grebe. Open field and forest edge habitats support Eastern Bluebird, Blue Grosbeak, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Prothonotary Warbler. Look for migrating songbirds during spring and fall and waterfowl during winter.
Phone: (903) 882-3422.
Old Sabine Bottom Wildlife Management Ar
From the intersection of US 69 and FM 16 East in Lindale, take FR 16 east 0.6 miles to FM 2710. Turn left on FM 2710 and go 5.0 miles north to the 4 way stop at CR 4106. Go straight (north) on CR 4106 for 1.5 miles to the WMA entrance.
This 5,727-acre wildlife management area features important bottomland hardwood habitat. Many roads, trails and parking areas are available for visitor use. An information kiosk with a map of the Area is located at the entrance. Visitors can enjoy 24 miles of trails accessible by bicycle, horseback, or foot. Mature oak, elm, ash and other hardwood trees cover much of the WMA. Since it is located within the Sabine River floodplain, habitats include a variety of wetlands and oxbow lakes. Wildlife viewing includes Neotropical migratory songbirds, Wood Ducks, Mallards, Snowy Egrets, Barred Owls, White-tailed Deer and Beavers.
Look for Great Blue Heron, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night- Herons, and Belted Kingfisher along the shorelines of the oxbow lakes and Sabine River. In the forest, watch for Great Horned, and Eastern Screech Owls, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, and Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers. During the nesting season look for Prothonotary Warbler and Northern Parula. Swallow-tailed Kites can be observed during migration.
Phone: (903) 881-8233, Old Sabine Bottom WMA
Mineola Preserve on the Sabine River
From the intersection of Hwy 69 and FM 37 in Mineola, go south on US 69 for about 2.5 miles and turn left (east) on Wood County Road 2720 for less than 0.1 miles and then turn right (east) on Wood County Road 2724. The Preserve is located to the right (south) as you drive 1-mile to the old railroad bed gate. The site is bordered on the south by the Sabine River, on the west by US 69, on the north by Wood County Road 2740, and on the east by a fence between the adjacent private property.
The Mineola Preserve on the Sabine River promises to be a premiere natural outdoor educational area once site plans are fully developed. The 2,921 acres of the preserve include various habitat types, including pine uplands, open grasslands, bottomland hardwood forest, and sucessional woodlands. The diversity of habitats provides for a variety of wildlife, including over 150 bird species. Plans for the preserve include an elevated trail through bottomland hardwood habitat with viewing blinds at various points.
During the summer, look for Painted and Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Wood-Peewee, Carolina Wren, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, White eyed, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, Prothonotary Warbler, and Wood Stork. Check areas of open water for a variety of wading birds and the open fields for Northern Bobwhite, Greater Roadrunner, Eastern Phoebe, and Eastern Bluebird. The site is excellent for migrating songbirds during spring and fall.
Phone: (903) 569-6183.
Grand Saline Salt Marsh
From the intersection of US 80 and FM 857 near the eastern city limits of Grand Saline, go south on FM 857 for 0.1 miles, crossing over the railroad tracks. At this point FM 857 enters the northern edge of the salt prairie. The salt marsh is to the east with dry salt prairie to the west. The highway travels through the salt prairie for 0.6 miles. Viewing may be done from a vehicle on the widened highway shoulders at the Saline Creek bridges. A turn around space is available 0.2 miles past the bridges at Van Zandt CR 1701 to the left (east) or vehicles may be parked at CR 1701 and then walk. The site is restricted to roadside viewing only.
The unique underground salt dome formation located close to the surface provides the basis for this inland salt marsh and unique habitat. The site has extensive mud flats with braided streams and an expansive salt marsh, especially prominent on the east side of the highway. Look for Red-winged Blackbird, Killdeer, Green Heron, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher and Great Egret in the summer. Recent surveys have indicated that this site is also an important pre-migration staging area for certain species of birds.
What makes this site unique is its brackish nature which attracts many bird species typically found further south along the Texas coast. During the winter months Virginia Rail; Snowy, Piping and Semipalmated Plovers; Spotted, Least and Western Sandpipers; and various dabbling duck species are all known to visit the marsh. The site provides an unusual opportunity to view an inland salt marsh and the diversity of wildlife it supports.
Phone: (903) 962-5631.
Great Cats of Texas
From I 20 East and Hwy 69 North in Tyler, travel east for 6.0 miles to Exit 562/ FM 14. Turn left (north) on FM 14 and follow 4.8 miles to the entrance road on right (Park is located 2.8 miles North of Tyler State Park Entrance).
The Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is a non-profit facility that rescues abandoned or unwanted big cats from various sources around the country, as featured on Animal Planet's 'Growing up Tiger' series. A living resort that provides the best living environment attainable for captive felines including security, food, enrichment, and medical care, with extensive habitat dimensions and educational programming that is both entertaining for the felines and the people visiting the facilities. The goal is to create a place that brings people and animals together in nature while serving as a nature-based learning and observation site representing and teaching needed stewardship. Upon completion of all four phases, the site will represent a complete historical perspective of wild felines. Large cats on display include indigenous cats of Texas, various subspecies of Tigers, African Lions and Asian Leopards. Personal guided tours are provided along nature trails and through medical quarantine units. Additional viewing opportunities include a native cats platform and various observation stations. The site is host to flora and fauna indigenous to East Texas including a variety of wildflowers, plants and native trees as well as many migratory birds. Special attention should be given to the many indigenous animals, especially those located and co-habiting along the restored wetland systems. Memberships and additional donations are encouraged.
Phone: (903) 858-1008, www.greatcatsoftexas.org, www.tigercreek.org, www.tigerlink.org