- Texarkana COC, (903) 792-7191, www.texarkana.org
From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220B for Richmond Rd. Go left (northwest) on Richmond Rd. for 2.3 miles to University Ave. Turn right on University Ave. and continue 1 mile to the west entrance of Bringle Lake on Bringle Lake Rd. for access to the boat ramp, pavilion, beach volleyball net and playground. Continue on University Ave. 1.5 miles to Bringle Park Rd. to access picnic tables and a walking trail.
Located just a short distance from Texarkana, this lovely park along the shores of Lake Bringle attracts woodland birds such as Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo and Summer Tanager. Look for a variety of waterfowl in winter, including the diminutive Bufflehead and the majestic American White Pelican. The shoreline of the lake hosts Great Blue and Green Herons and serves as a moisture source for numerous butterflies and dragonflies.
The park includes Bringle Lake Park West, East and Wilderness Area. Bringle Lake Park West has 7 open acres with fishing piers, playground and pavilion overlooking the lake. Bringle Lake Park East is a small step into the wilderness with abundantly beautiful trees and natural surroundings, along with a fishing pier, playground and multiple small pavilions. The Bringle Lake Wilderness Area includes 144 acres that have been set aside as a nature area. There is a 10-foot-wide wilderness bike/walk trail that begins at Bringle Lake East and runs to the Waterworks Spillway (approximately 2 miles).
From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 222 for Summerhill Rd. North (FM 1397). Follow Summerhill Rd. North 4 miles. Turn left (west) onto Sparks Lane. The marsh runs for 1 mile north of the road.
The Red River is just a few miles north of this site, and this area is an ecotone where post oak savannah of North Texas mixes with the Pineywoods habitats of East Texas. The north side of Sparks Lane is bordered by a beautiful freshwater marsh. During the summer, look for egrets and herons. Wood Ducks are year-round residents, and migratory waterfowl can be observed during winter. The marsh provides habitat for a variety of wetland species, including red-eared sliders and Eastern Pondhawk and Blue Dasher dragonflies. The surrounding open fields provide habitat for Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Kingbird and Dickcissel. Look for raptors such as Red-tailed, Red-shouldered and Cooper's Hawks hunting the open areas, especially in winter. You can also expect to see Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Mourning Dove and Eastern Bluebird.
Lake Wright Patman
Elliot Bluff Wildlife Viewing Area: From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South 8.5 miles to FM 2148. Turn right (west) onto FM 2148. Go 1 mile and turn left at the Wright Patman Lake sign. Take the second left into Elliot Bluff. The wildlife viewing stand will be on the right, 1.7 miles down the road.
The observation platform located just north of the Lake Wright Patman dam is a great place to scan the lake. The brush leading to the stand resounds with bird song in early summer, with Blue-gray Gnatcatchers buzzing from the treetops and Yellow-breasted Chats churring from the undergrowth. Look for Scissor-tailed Flycatcher overhead and listen to the calls of both American and Fish Crows. Climb the stand and look across the surrounding marshland and flooded forest. Look for wading birds fishing and a variety of waterfowl during winter. Keep an eye on the sky for the occasional Bald Eagle or Osprey that may pass overhead.
Clear Springs Park: From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South 8.5 miles to FM 2148. Turn right (northwest) onto FM 2148. Turn left at the Wright Patman Lake sign after 1 mile. Follow the road 2.1 miles (straight) to Clear Springs Park. Accessible to campers only.
Clear Springs Park provides a chance to explore mixed woodlands with stately pines stretching to the sky. The woods are filled with the sounds of Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Summer Tanager blending with the more regular calls of Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Wren. Listen for Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos as they call from overhead. Scan the treetops for the noisy and active Great Crested Flycatcher. Look on the ground for ground skinks or perhaps an occasional rough green snake.
Big Creek Park: From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South for 2.1 miles to the US 67 Exit. Take US 67 west 15.2 miles to SR 8 in Maud. Turn left (south) on SR 8 and follow 1 miles to FM 2624. Turn left on FM 2624 and follow it 1 mile to its end at CR 1211. Turn left on CR 1211 and follow it 0.6 mile to CR 1207. Turn right on CR 1207 for 1 mile to the parking area for Big Creek Park area.
This site offers access to woodland along the banks of Lake Wright Patman. The woods are filled with the sounds of busy woodpeckers. In such heavy woodland actually seeing birds can be challenging and visitors may have to settle for hearing familiar calls as the birds stay well-hidden a hundred feet up. Birds such as Red-eyed Vireo, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee and Pine Warbler are all usually more easily heard than seen. With patience you may see white-tailed deer or a Barred Owl.
Berry Farm Park: From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South for 2.1 miles to the US 67 Exit. Take US 67 west 15.2 miles to SR 8 in Maud. Turn left (south) on SR 8 and follow 1 mile to FM 2624. Turn left (east) on FM 2624 and follow it 4 miles to FM 1202. Turn right on FM 1202; the road ends after 2.8 miles at the park.
This small park is big on birds. A number of martin houses consistently attract over 100 Purple Martins each spring and summer, and the martins are often joined by other types of swallows who feed above the reservoir. The woods around the park host Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo and various warblers. In winter, scan the water for waterfowl and the occasional grebe or loon. Other winter attractions include large numbers of Ring-billed Gulls with rarer species intermixed, as well as the annual occurrence of Bald Eagles, which often perch in the trees along the shoreline. The park also hosts a variety of butterflies, drawn to the abundant flowering plants on the grounds. Search for American Snout, Hackberry Emperor, Eastern Tiger and Black Swallowtails, Common Buckeye and a variety of hairstreaks and skippers.
Old Sulphur River Channel: From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South 11 miles. Turn right just before the Sulphur River Bridge into the TXDOT boat ramp area. Turn right at the parking lot (road will parallel the old river channel for 0.4 mile).
The Old Sulphur River Channel is a relict of the time before Lake Wright Patman, with the river still flowing here and the banks flanked with impressive cottonwoods and other riparian species. The access road to the boat ramp provides an excellent opportunity to explore this habitat and enjoy the native wildlife. Check the river for Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons stalking frogs and fish in the shallows. Look in the canopy for the occasional Baltimore Oriole, which nest in the area. The brushy parts of the riverbank provide for Northern Cardinal and White-eyed Vireo. Prothonotary Warbler are plentiful near the water's edge. This area can also be excellent for neotropical migratory birds during spring, especially after inclement weather.
Emergency Spillway Channel: From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South 9.5 miles. Turn right at the first Wright Patman Lake sign, approximately 1 mile past CR 2148. Turn left at stop sign after 0.4 mile. Follow the road below the dam, crossing over the dam's stilling basin at Sulphur Point. Park at the Ladybird parking lot after 1.9 miles.
The lake's emergency spillway cuts through a mixed pine and hardwood forest that at times resounds with birdsong. Indigo Buntings sing from the treetops as Red-bellied Woodpeckers call from the pines. Common residents include Carolina Wren and Pine Warbler. The woodland supports at least one pair of stately Mississippi Kites, which can be seen flying high over the neighboring woodland. These aerial acrobats prey on dragonflies such as Eastern Pondhawks and Common Green Darners. Butterflies to look for include the attractive Common Buckeye and the enormous Giant Swallowtail. The rocky slopes leading into the emergency spillway channel are home to a family of minks, which can sometimes be seen scrambling over the rocks.
Rocky Point/Piney Point Trail: From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South 11.8 miles. Turn right (west) on the local road just past the Sulphur River. Follow 0.3 mile to the stop sign. Turn left and proceed another 0.3 mile then turn left again and go 0.8 mile to the park. This site is accessible to campers only.
Rocky Point and the Piney Point Trail offer great access to the southern shore of Lake Wright Patman. The site provides numerous opportunities to scan the reservoir for wintering waterfowl, migrant American White Pelican, or vagrants such as grebes, loons or northern gulls. Common residents of the park include gray squirrels and a plethora of woodland birds. Indigo Bunting and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher frequent the forest edge, while Summer Tanager and Yellow-billed Cuckoo are found deeper in the woods. While walking the trail, take note of some of the less conspicuous residents of the forest, such as the diminutive Little Wood Satyr with its dainty eyespots, or the brilliant emerald green of an Ebony Jewelwing flashing from a shady forest stream.
Cass County Park
From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South 15 miles. Turn right (west) on CR 3660 and continue west 0.4 mile to CR 3659. Turn left on CR 3659 and continue 0.3 mile to CR 3551. Turn right (west) on CR 3551 and go 1.4 miles to CR 3558. Turn right (north) on CR 3558 and continue 1.1 miles to Cass County Park.
Cass County Park is home to a variety of wildlife ranging from the energetic fox and gray squirrels to the handsome Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and inquisitive Pine Warbler. Check the open fields around the park for Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins foraging for worms and insects. The park is a good place to compare and differentiate between the shape, size and call of American and Fish Crows. Common dragonflies in the area include Widow Skimmer and Eastern Pondhawk, while prevalent butterflies include Spicebush Swallowtail and occasionally Funereal Duskywing. In the late afternoon, look for Purple Martin and Cliff and Barn Swallows as they gather over the water to feed.
Atlanta State Park
From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South 21.5 miles to FM 96. Go west on FM 96 for 7 miles to FM 1154. Turn right (north) on FM 1154 and follow it 1.6 miles to PR 42. Follow PR 42 for 0.2 mile into Atlanta State Park.
This beautiful state park on Lake Wright Patman offers seasonal colors, variable terrain, pine forests and great sunsets. Caddo Indians, the most culturally advanced tribe in Texas, once made this area their home. The park offers lake swimming, a nature trail, a 5-mile hiking trail, boating and fishing. Camping, picnicking and biking are also popular activities.
In addition to the numerous woodland species such as Yellow-throated Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager and Great Crested Flycatcher, a resident pair of Bald Eagles and their offspring frequent the park year-round. The shoreline provides habitat for Killdeer and other shorebirds in migration as well as local scavengers such as Black Vulture and American and Fish Crows. The numerous vantage points to scan the reservoir make for excellent waterfowl watching in the winter. Check in moist areas along the lakeshore for American Snout butterfly.
Queen City Outdoor Learning Center
From I-30 in Texarkana, take Exit 220A for US 59 South. Follow US 59 South 22.1 miles to Loop 236. Turn left (east) on Loop 236 and travel approximately 0.5 mile to FM 74. Turn right (east) on FM 74 and follow it 1.1 miles to the sign for Queen City (J.K. Hileman) Elementary School. Turn left at the sign and follow to the pond.
This outdoor learning center has been developed over the years through the activities of local elementary and high school students. Bird and bat houses as well as other environmental projects augment the numerous plantings. Habitats include a small pond and woodland. Highlights of the site include flocks of Brown-headed Nuthatches in the pines that tower above the gardens, Belted Kingfishers rattling across the pond and the constant singing of Pine Warblers and Orchard Orioles. The pond provides habitat for resident Canada Geese, which nest and raise goslings every year, and can attract migrant waterfowl from time to time. Other wildlife to look for includes Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Wood Duck, Eastern Bluebird, Killdeer, fox squirrels and Giant Swallowtails.
Queen City ISD (903) 796-8256