- Greenville COC, (903) 455-1510, www.greenville-chamber.org
- Tawakoni Area COC, (903) 447-3020, www.tawakoni.org
- Wills Point, www.willspointtx.org
From the intersection of US 380 and US 69 in Greenville, go north on US 69 for 15.0 miles to FM 1562 in Celeste. Turn left (south) on FM 1562 and follow 3.1 miles to CR 1140. Turn right (north) on CR 1140 and site is located on both sides of the road for the next 1.3 miles. Note: Viewing is limited to the CR 1140 right-of-way or by appointment.
Wildflowers and tall grasses fill one of the few remaining expanses of native Blackland Prairie habitat in northeast Texas. Management strategies for the 1200 acres of prairie and riparian habitat include controlled burns and grazing by Bison. Visitors can view the prairie from the county road or call The Nature Conservancy of Texas (TNCT) at (903) 568-4139 for access by appointment.
Dominant wildflowers include rough-leafed rosinweed, purple Indian paintbrush, prairie clover and American basketflower. Native grasses mixed in with these wildflowers include big bluestem, eastern gamagrass, little bluestem, meadow dropseed, sideoats grama, and Canadian wildrye.
The open prairie supports various grassland birds including Dickcissel, Eastern Meadowlark, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Red-tailed Hawk and Cooper's Hawk. During the winter months look for Short-eared Owls, various dabbler ducks on the pond and various sparrows on the prairie.
Fluttering creatures attracted by the milkweeds include Monarch and Queen butterflies. Other butterflies feeding on the various wildflowers include Black Swallowtail, Orange Sulfur, Dogface, and Hackberry Emperor. Look for dragonflies such as Comet Darner, Jade Clubtail and Orange Shadowdragon on the pond.
Phone: (903) 568-4139,
Matthews Prairie Preserve
From the intersection of I 30 and US 380 in Greenville, turn north on US 380 for 7.7 miles to FM 903. Go right (north) on FM 903 for 2.0 miles to CR 1062. Turn left on CR 1062 for 1.8 miles to entrance on left.
Visitors can enjoy 100 acres of pristine Blackland Prairie. Owned by Paul Matthews and managed by the The Nature Conservancy of Texas, this rare gem is located in the gently rolling hills of Northeast Texas. Visitors can experience what the early settlers to Texas saw - unobstructed prairie as far as the eye can see.
Wildflowers like green-flowered milkweed, Indian paintbrush, prairie clover and American basketflower are just a few of the vivid hues that dot the landscape. Butterflies like the Monarch, Orange Sulfur and Dogface are drawn to this rich habitat.
Birds such as Dickcissel, Eastern Meadowlark, Loggerhead Shrike, and Lark, Le Conte's and Lincoln's Sparrow are prolific throughout this tall grass prairie. Look for Painted Bunting in the hackberry trees along the fence line and watch for Northern Harrier flying low over the grassland.
Visitors can view the prairie from the county road or call TNCT at (903) 568-4139 for access by appointment.
Phone: (903) 568-4139.
Tawakoni Wildlife Management Area - Pawn
From the intersection of US 69 North and FM 513 in Lone Oak, go left (southwest) on FM 513 for 0.5 miles. Continue west on FM 1571 for approximately 3.0 miles to the entrance.
The Pawnee Unit includes 1381 acres of highly diversified habitat of post oak savannah, old field, tallgrass prairie, and bottomland hardwood associated with Cowleech Fork of the Sabine River. The diversity of habitats provides for excellent wildlife viewing. Look for White-tailed Deer, Coyote, and Feral Hog in the more open areas.
In bottomland hardwood habitat, look for Eastern Kingbird, Little Blue Heron, Barred and Great Horned Owl, Pileated and Downy Woodpecker, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The old field and prairie areas support Red-tailed and Cooper's Hawk, Smith's and Lapland Longspur, and various sparrow species during the fall. Check the Tawakoni WMA web site for a list of commonly observed birds.
Wildflowers such as green, flowering milkweed and Indian blanket attract many species of butterflies, including Monarch, Common Wood Nymph, Tiger and Giant Swallowtail, Viceroy, and Southern Broken Dash. Dragonflies are numerous and include Widow Skimmer, Swift Setwing and Red Saddlebags.
Phone: (903) 881-8233, Tawakoni WMA
Tawakoni Wildlife Management Area - Cadd
From the intersection of SR 276 and SR 34 in Quinlan go north on SR 34 approximately 2.0 miles. The site is located on the west beginning at the south side of Caddo Creek Bridge. Access and parking are available on the old roadbed.
Situated along Caddo Creek before it flows into Lake Tawakoni, the Wildlife Management Area conserves diminishing bottomland hardwood habitat. Open grassland habitat occurs along the southern end of the WMA. The area where these two habitats meet is a good place to look for Raccoon, White-tailed Deer, Feral Hog and Eastern Fox Squirrel.
Indigo and Painted Buntings, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed Vireo and Black-and-white Warbler are found in wooded areas. In winter, look for Smith's Longspur, and Vesper, Savannah and Le Conte's Sparrows in the open grassland.
Look for butterflies such as Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Monarch and Gray Hairstreak and dragonflies such as Common Green Darner, Swamp Darner and Common Whitetail.
Phone: (903) 881-8233, Tawakoni WMA
Sweeney Environmental Center
From the intersection of SR 276 and SR 34 in Quinlan, go north on SR 34 for 2.9 miles to FM 2101. Turn right (east) onto FM 2101 and follow 0.75 miles to the entrance.
Operated by a partnership between Boles Independent School District, Texas A&M University -Commerce, and the Sabine River Authority, the Sweeney Environmental Education Center is dedicated to educating students about the natural world. Habitats on the 350-acre site include lakeshore, post oak woodland, riparian woodland, and grassland. There habitats attract a diversity of birds, including White Ibis, Bewick's Wren, Smith's Longspur, American Avocet, and Bald Eagle. Specific to the shoreline are the White Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill, Tricolored Heron, Great Egret and Great Blue Heron. Walk into the woodland to look for Prothonotary Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse and several species of woodpeckers.
Wildflowers and nearby water attract many species of butterflies and dragonflies. Look for butterflies such as Monarch, Hackberry Emperor, Viceroy, and Buckeye and dragonflies such as Little Blue Dragonlet, Eastern Amberwing and Calico Pennant.
Access to the site is currently by appointment only at (903) 883-4464. Future plans include greater access for the general public as they continue to grow as an outdoor education center.
Phone: (903) 883-4464.
Tawakoni Wildlife Management Area - Duck
From the intersection of SR 276 and SR 34 in Quinlan, travel south on SR 34 for 0.5 miles to SR 276. Turn left (east) and go 1.1 miles to FM 751. Turn right (south) onto FM 751 and follow it south 6.9 miles to CR 3827. Turn right (west) on CR 3827 and follow it 1.3 miles to entrance.
The Duck Cove Unit includes 792 acres of highly diversified habitats, which include post oak savannah, old field, tallgrass prairie, and bottomland hardwoods. Along the Lake Tawakoni shoreline look for Green and Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egret, White Pelican, and Belted Kingfisher. In the woodlands, look for Orchard Oriole, Barred and Great Horned Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Kingbird, and various woodpecker species. The grasslands support the stocky, broad-winged Red-tailed Hawk, the smaller Cooper's Hawk, as well as American Kestrel, Eastern Meadowlark, and Northern Bobwhite Quail.
Wildflowers in the open areas attract butterflies such as Monarch, Tiger and Giant Swallowtail, Viceroy, and Southern Broken Dash. Common dragonflies observed include Calico Pennant, Swift Setwing, and Red Saddlebags.
Phone: (903) 881-8233, Tawakoni WMA
Lake Tawakoni State Park
From the intersection of US 80 and FM 47 in Willis Point, go north on FM 47 for 5.7 miles to FM 2475. Turn left (west) on FM 2475 and follow it north 4.0 miles to the park entrance.
Recently opened in 2002, this 376-acre state park offers a variety of activities and amenities, including 5.5 miles of trails and tent camping. Habitats include tallgrass prairie, post oak woodland, and lakeshore.
Look for birds such as Summer Tanager, Northern Oriole, Painted Bunting and Eastern Bluebird along the nature trail. Eastern Bluebirds have made good use of the 20 nest boxes erected within the park, and their offspring are plentiful. Look to the skies for Bald Eagle, Osprey, Crested Caracara, and Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks. At the shoreline, look for Belted Kingfishers feeding and ducks such as Northern Shoveler, Pintail, American Widgeon, and Bufflehead. Guided night hikes expose visitors to the sounds of Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl and Chuck-will's-widow along with bellowing Bullfrogs.
Migrating songbirds such as Blackburnian and Black-and-white Warblers are plentiful during spring migration. Because the wood-warblers are more often heard than seen during migration, learning to identify by song is a real asset. Mammals to look for include Bobcat, Raccoon, White-tailed Deer, and both Red and Gray Fox.
Phone: (903) 560-7123, Lake Tawakoni SP
Wills Point Bluebird Trails
From the intersection of FM 47 and FM 751 in Willis Point, go west on FM 751 for 0.9 miles to the Wilderness Trail entrance on the right. The Bluebird Trail spokes for miles from downtown Wills Point on every major roadway including FM 47, US Hwy 80, FM 2475, FM 751, Fm 2965, Hwy 64 and FM 3502.
Officially known as 'The Bluebird Capital of Texas,' the City of Wills Point and the Wills Point Wilderness Society are proud of their bluebirds (and rightly so). Follow the Bluebird Trail along major roads extending from downtown Wills Point. Eastern Bluebirds use the hundreds of volunteer-maintained boxes along the fence lines to nest and rear their young each year, producing one of the highest densities of Eastern Bluebirds in Texas.
While driving along the trail, also watch for hawks, as well as Dickcissel, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Painted Bunting and American Kestrel along fence lines and utility lines. Along the way, stop at Tawakoni State Park and look for Barred Owl, Louisiana Waterthrush, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpecker, Red-eyed Vireo and Eastern Wood-Pewee along the wooded boardwalk trail.
Phone: (903) 873-4227.