North Toledo Bend Loop
- Sabine County COC, (409) 787-3732, www.sabinecountytexas.com
- Shelby County COC, (936) 598-3682, www.shelbycountychamber.com
North Toledo Bend Wildlife Management Area
From Center, travel east 13.4 miles on Hwy. 7 to FM 2787. Go south on FM 2787 for 2.1 miles to FM 139. On FM 139 go south 2 miles to FM 2572. Go east 1.6 miles to entrance of the WMA.
Even before you arrive at the entrance to North Toledo Bend WMA, you'll pass through swamp bottomland area filled with bald cypress and black gum trees heavily buttressed in the duckweed-covered waters. To get a full appreciation of area wildlife, visitors can walk the 3 miles of roadways on the area. The 3,650-acre area is transected by oxbow lakes, bottomland hardwoods, pine ridges and old fields. The complexity of these habitats guarantees a diverse wildlife population. A 500-acre impoundment is managed for waterfowl and the WMA is bordered by the Sabine River and the northern portion of Toledo Bend Reservoir.
Birdwatching is good throughout the year. During the summer look for Wood Duck, egrets, herons, Dickcissel, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, as well as Indigo and Painted Buntings. Wood Stork, Sedge Wren, various sparrows and waterfowl are wintertime inhabitants. Prothonotary Warblers are springtime inhabitants of the area especially around Swede Johnson Lake. Other spring species include Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky and Hooded Warblers, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles and Summer Tanager.
A canoe ride around Swede Johnson Lake, the impoundment or one of the many sloughs may provide the opportunity to see river otters, alligators and alligator snapping turtles.
Huxley Bay Marina
From Hwy. 87 in Shelbyville, turn onto FM 417, follow approximately 2 miles and veer right on FM 2694. Follow FM 2694 for 14.6 miles to the large sign on the right.
Huxley Bay is a sheltered cove nestled along the western shoreline of north Toledo Bend Reservoir. The area provides diverse outdoor activities, including boating and bird watching. The marina provides all types of services including boat stalls, a restaurant and lodging facilities including a motel, RV slots and rental mobile homes.
Birds commonly seen along the shoreline of the cove include herons, egrets, Belted Kingfisher, Osprey and Bald Eagle.
Whether you want to count red-eared turtles on logs through windows in the restaurant or rest quietly on the porch swing watching Downy Woodpeckers, Huxley Bay is a family-oriented site with something for everyone.
Robinson's Lodge on Toledo Bend Reservoir
From Center, follow Hwy. 87 for 4 miles to Shelbyville, then go left (east) on FM 2694 for 15 miles to FM 3172. Turn right (south) on FM 3172 for 1 mile and then turn left (east) onto CR 2694 and go 0.9 mile to the first gravel road on the left. Turn left and go 0.4 mile to the Robinson's Lodge mailbox; turn left and follow to the lodge.
Robinson's Lodge is located on a secluded cove of Toledo Bend Reservoir surrounded by the Sabine National Forest. The spacious lodge sleeps up to 20 people and offers a large front porch filled with rocking chairs where one can watch birds and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Amenities include 5 acres of lakefront property, a boat ramp, boat house and a fish cleaning station. The owner is an expert fishing guide and can show you lots of wonderful places to wet a line or just enjoy the pristine beauty of East Texas.
Visitors can venture into the adjacent Sabine National Forest to discover resident pine forest species such as Red-bellied, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue Jay, Carolina Chickadee, American Kestrel, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Pine Warbler and Eastern Bluebird. During the warm summer months look for Woodthrush, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Indigo and Painted Buntings and Eastern Towhee.
Haley's Ferry Recreation Area
From Center, follow Hwy. 87 for 4 miles to Shelbyville, then go left (east) on FM 2694 for 15 miles to FM 3172. Turn right (south) on FM 3172 for 1 mile and then turn left (east) onto CR 2694 for 2 miles to the entrance sign on the right.
Located adjacent to Toledo Bend Reservoir, Haley's Ferry provides visitors with beautiful cove and lake views. The area is operated by the Sabine River Authority and is located within mature pine forest with a mixture of hardwoods. A Red-cockaded Woodpecker cluster is located adjacent to the entrance road. The best opportunities to view these birds are at daybreak and early evenings, but please remember to minimize your disturbance.
Resident pine forest species include Red-bellied, Red-cockaded and Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue Jay, Carolina Chickadee, American Kestrel, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Pine Warbler and Eastern Bluebird. During the summer, Woodthrush, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Indigo and Painted Buntings and Eastern Towhee occur quite regularly.
Resident woodland species include Blue Jay, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, Arcadian Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Kingbird, Summer Tanager, Orchard Oriole and Yellow-throated, Prairie, Prothonotary and Hooded Warblers. Brightly colored neotropical songbirds also migrate through this area during the spring and fall months.
Ragtown Recreation Area
From Center, follow Hwy. 87 south for 11 miles, turn left (east) on FM 139 for 6 miles, bear right onto FM 3184 and follow 4 miles to park entrance.
Located on Toledo Bend Reservoir, Ragtown Recreation Area provides visitors with wonderful views of the lake and the surrounding Sabine National Forest. The area is operated by the Sabine River Authority and provides on-site amenities including a beautiful campground and 1-mile nature trail. The trail follows the lake shoreline then moves into a scenic mature pine forest with a sparse hardwood understory that provides excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities.
Look for herons, egrets and Belted Kingfisher along the shoreline. In the forest, watch for woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadee, American Kestrel, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren and Pine Warbler. During summer, look for Woodthrush, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Indigo and Painted Buntings and Eastern Towhee. The area also abounds with migrating neotropical songbirds during the spring and fall months.
East Hamilton Boat Ramp
From San Augustine, follow FM 353 east for 12 miles, turn left (north) on Hwy. 87 for 1.5 miles, and then turn right (east) on FM 2261 for 12 miles to the boat ramp entrance.
Surrounded by the Sabine National Forest, visitors are provided with breathtaking views of the Toledo Bend shoreline as well as excellent wildlife viewing all year. Operated by the Sabine River Authority, the East Hamilton Boat Ramp Recreational Area is located within a mature pine forest adjacent to riparian habitat. These habitats support a diversity of birds and other wildlife.
Look along the shorelines for various herons and egrets. In the winter, scan the lake for waterfowl and Bald Eagle. Resident pine forest species include woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadee, American Kestrel, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Pine Warbler and Eastern Bluebird. During the summer, Woodthrush, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Indigo and Painted Buntings and Eastern Towhee occur quite regularly. Many colorful migratory songbirds travel through this area during the spring and fall months.
Red Hills Lake
From the intersection of Hwy. 87 and Hwy. 21 in Milam, go north on Hwy. 87 for 2.8 miles to the lake entrance on right.
Red Hills Lake recreation area offers a picturesque 19-acre lake amidst a 17-acre mature pine forest. The recreational opportunities offered here include swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking and wildlife viewing. Visitors can drive or walk the main road or enjoy the 2 short hiking trails (Interpretive Trail and Tower Trail).
A walk across the grassy earthen dam offers a mid-canopy level view into the riparian habitat below. Look for Loggerhead Shrike, Brown Thrasher, Lark Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark and Dickcissel. During winter months, look for various sparrows. Hiking either of the trails or making your own trail through the pine forest will expose species such as Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-bellied, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Mourning Dove, Eastern Wood-Peewee, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Carolina Wren and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Warbler species present include Yellow-throated, Pine, Swainson's, Hooded and Black-and-white Warblers. Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos and Northern Parula also reside in the area. The lake sometimes seems to be dominated with an abundance of aquatic turtles and watching them bask in the sun is always entertaining.
Carrice Creek Bridge Area
From Milam, go east on Hwy. 21 for 6.1 miles to site. Site is located on the east end of the Carrice Creek Bridge on the right side of road.
Located on the eastern end of the Carrice Creek Bridge over Carrice Creek on the Toledo Bend Reservoir, this rookery is alive with the sounds of nesting birds. The shallow waters support bald cypress, black willow, bays and lotus pads. Birds such as Anhinga, egrets, herons and Red-winged Blackbird nest and fledge their young here. The calls and cackles of these roosting birds bring the vegetation alive with sound and movement.
After the nesting season is over, the site still provides excellent bird-watching opportunities. Look for ducks in the winter and the occasional Bald Eagle.
Alpine Resort and Marina
From Milam, go east on Hwy. 21 for 4.3 miles to FM 3121. Turn right (south) on FM 3121 and go 0.1 mile to FM 242. Turn left (east) on FM 242 and follow it east 4.3 miles to Alpine Marina.
The Alpine Resort and Marina offers lodging facilities, a boat ramp, caf_, bait shop, a guide service and other amenities. Habitats include a shallow cove to the west and a bottomland slough to the east. The property is shaded under large longleaf pine, sweetgum and various oak trees. Waterbirds found along the shoreline and cove area include herons, egrets, Killdeer and Bald Eagle. Summer residents include Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Common Nighthawk, Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Pileated Woodpecker, Prothonotary and Kentucky Warblers, Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting and Orchard Oriole. Other birds observed in the park area include Brown-headed Nuthatch and Cliff Swallow. The area also attracts many migratory neotropical bird species during the spring and fall months.