Bosque Valley Loop
- Bosque County, 254-435-2382, users.htcomp.net/bosque
- Clifton COC, 800-344-3720, www.cliftontexas.org
- Hillsboro Area COC, 800-HILLSBORO, www.hillsborochamber.org
- Meridian COC, 254-435-2381, users.htcomp.net/meridian
Aquilla Wildlife Management Area
From I 35 South in Hillsboro take Exit 364A. Continue south on the frontage road to FM 310. Turn right (west) on FM 310 and follow 6.2 miles to the WMA Headquarters on the right.
The Aquilla Hunting Unit embraces all of Aquilla Lake. The site offers wildlife watchers access to a number of habitats in a small area. Native grasslands and farmlands surrounding the lake team with grassland birds, such as Dickcissels, Eastern Meadowlarks and Lark and Grasshopper Sparrows, whose songs permeate the spring air. Seeing these birds is slightly more challenging than hearing them, but they occasionally cooperate by perching in a prominent place. The lake is alive with waterfowl in the winter, and White Pelicans, Osprey and even Bald Eagles can be observed feeding on fish in the lake. In summer, the shallow inlets abound with Great Blue, Little Blue and Green Herons and the standing dead trees provide roosts for Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Listen for Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Red-eyed Vireos in the nearby woodland.
Phone: 254-582-2719, Aquilla Hunting Unit 748
Arrowhead Creek Nature Park
From I 35 in Hillsboro, take Exit 368A. Turn west onto SR 22 and follow 18 miles through Hillsboro and the town of Whitney to CR 2105. Turn right onto CR 2105 and continue west 0.9 miles to the park.
Arrowhead Creek Nature Park provides visitors with cabin accommodations in a tranquil setting that offers access to the shores of Lake Whitney and the surrounding grasslands and woodlands. Any visitor to the nature park will immediately be drawn to the lake, which can hold a great variety of waterfowl in the winter, as well as numerous herons and egrets in summer. Look for Bald Eagles and Common Loons in the winter and Franklin's Gulls and various shorebirds during migration. The grass and mud banks of the reservoir are great places to search for butterflies and dragonflies. Watch for Common Buckeye, Orange and Dainty Sulphurs, Mourning Cloak and Red Admiral fluttering across the wildflowers or Black Saddlebags and Calico Pennants cruising the shoreline.
Phone: 254-694-3044, www.arrowheadatlakewhitney.com
Lake Whitney State Park
From I 35 North in Hillsboro, take Exit 364B. Go northwest onto US 77/ US 81 for 2.9 miles to SH 22/ W. Elm St. From I 35 South take Exit 370. Go southwest onto US 77/ US 81 to SH 22/ W. Elm St. Turn west on SH 22 and follow 11.7 miles to the town of Whitney. Turn right (west) on E. Polk Ave. for 0.5 miles to S. Colorado St. Turn left (south) on S. Colorado St. and follow 0.4 miles to FM 1244. Turn right (west) and go 2.2 miles to the park.
Lake Whitney State Park hosts year round camping and picnicking facilities along the shores of Lake Whitney. It is a great venue to explore the area wildlife. Birds such as various Hawks and the elegant Scissor-tailed Flycatcher dominate the open areas. Look for Forster's Terns gliding over the lake in search of dinner, while Spotted Sandpiper and Red-eared Sliders frequent Lake Whitney's muddy banks. The park's nature trail takes visitors to more secluded areas of the lake, where turtles casually bask in the sunshine and Great Blue Herons hunt in the shallows. The trail passes through several dense oak thickets alive with White-eyed Vireos and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Spring brings abundant wildflowers. Common wildlife includes White-tailed Deer, Raccoons, and Squirrels with Fox, Coyote, and Bobcat occasionally being spotted. A total of 194 bird species have been recorded in the park, including Wild Turkeys and Bald Eagles.
Phone: 254-694-3793, Lake Whitney SP
Clifton City Park
From the intersection of Hwy 6 and FM 219 in Clifton, turn east on FM 219 for 0.4 miles to FM 219/ Park Road. Turn left into the city park
Clifton City Park stretches out along the Bosque River granting access to a beautiful riparian corridor. The tall oaks and pecans that line the river are home to Great-crested Flycatchers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. The dense thickets host Black-crested Titmice and White-eyed Vireos. During migration the park can host all sorts of surprises, from colorful warblers to those 'hard to identify' flycatchers. Watch carefully for Beaver along the banks or swimming downstream. Red-eared Sliders or Pallid Spiny Soft-shelled Turtles can be seen floating just under the surface of the water. Water birds such as Great Blue and Green Herons, and Snowy Egrets can be seen flying up and down the river. Also check the shallow puddles, especially on a hot Texas day, for bathing Cardinals, Orchard Orioles and Dickcissels.
Phone: 800-344-3720; 254-675-8337, www.cliftontexas.org
The River's Bend B&B
Call for directions and guide to the property.
This wonderful bed and breakfast overlooks a bend of the Bosque River. The porch sweeps right out amongst several towering oaks giving a picturesque view of all of the river's activity. To add to the site's attraction, a series of feeders bring wildlife right to the porch. A guest can easily relax and have the cardinals, chickadees, titmice and even Painted Buntings come greet them. If you ever manage to leave the porch, the surrounding woodland and fields, with many varieties of wildflowers, support a variety of birds, including White-eyed Vireos and Eastern Kingbirds. White-tailed Deer and Raccoons are abundant. Please call for directions as strict visitor privacy is enforced.
Phone: 254-675-4936, www.riversbendbnb.com
From the intersection of Hwy 6 and FM 219 in Clifton, go west on FM 219 for 0.2 miles to Ave. K. Turn right (north) on Ave. K and follow it to its dead end at the park entrance
Dahl Park is a perfect stopover to view a surprising number of bird species in a small area. The park includes woodland edges and stream habitat. The little creek that passes through the rear of the park attracts numerous species looking for a drink and a refreshing bath, especially during the hot summer months. Neotropical migrants such as Yellow and Wilson's warblers and Common Yellowthroat share the creek with the more familiar residents. Mourning Doves, Common Grackles, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Northern Mockingbirds all can be found along the creek. While scanning the creek, don't neglect the overhead trees, which are alive with Eastern Fox Squirrels and Chimney Swifts.
Phone: 800-344-3720, www.cliftontexas.org
Norse Historic District
From the intersection of SR 6 and FM 219 in Clifton take FM 219 east for 3.4 miles to CR 4145 and veer right. The next 10.5 miles on CR 4145 is a very scenic drive and areas are available to stop and view nature at its best. Particularly good places to stop can be found at two churches. Our Savior's Lutheran Church is on the right after 4.1 miles and the Rock Church is on the right after 10.5 miles.
The charming drive through the Norse District takes the traveler through some of the oldest Norwegian settlements in North America. Although many things have changed since the times of Cleng Peerson (The father of Norwegian Settlement in America), wildlife is still abundant. The drive passes through various fields ranging from open grassland to thick cedar groves. Look for Lark Sparrows, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds, which line the fencerows. Red-tailed Hawks seem to appear out of nowhere, soaring across the road or perching on a roadside pole. In spring the fields fill with native wildflowers such as bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and Mexican blanket. These fields also attract an array of butterflies, including Monarch, Red Admiral, Spicebush Swallow_tail and Orange Sulphur.
Phone: 800-344-3720, www.cliftontexas.org
Meridian State Park
From the intersection of Hwy 6 and Hwy 22 in Meridian, take Hwy 22 west 2.4 miles to the park on the right.
Meridian State Park provides a habitat mosaic centered on Lake Meridian, with several roads providing lakeside access. While scanning the lake and its shore for Great Blue Herons and Wood Ducks, listen carefully for White-eyed Vireos and Yellow-billed Cuckoos in the surrounding trees. The lake also attracts dragonflies such as Blue Dashers and Eastern Pond Hawks, which can be spotted swarming on many of the lake's inlets. A visit to Meridian State Park would not be complete without a walk along the Shinnery Ridge Trail. This trail engulfs the visitor in Ashe juniper/oak woodland that is home to a small population of Golden-cheeked Warblers. This beautiful endangered songbird is highly sought by birders, and several pair nest along the trail. Other birds to look for along the trail include Greater Roadrunner, Black-chinned Hummingbird and Blue-gray Gnat_catcher. Also watch for the Nine-banded Armadillo, which is quite common in the park.
Phone: 254-435-2536, Meridian SP
From the intersection of SR 6 and SR 22 in Meridian go north on SR 22 for 0.4 miles to the entrance to Bosque Bottoms on the right.
Home to some of the world's best barbeque, each year this grassy field on the banks of the Bosque River hosts the National Championship Barbeque Cookoff. Although the fields of Bosque Bottoms are covered by barbeque cookers and consumers each August, the rest of the year the area is left to the birds. The vast open grassy areas host Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Eastern Bluebirds, Lark Sparrows and Dickcissels. Look to the woodlands along the river for a different suite of birds, including Red-bellied Woodpecker, Great-crested Flycatcher and Indigo Bunting. In spring the area is ablaze with wildflowers and their attendant butterflies.
Ann's House - Rafter D Ranch B&B
From SH 22 at SH 144 (N. Main St.) at the Courthouse in Meridian, go 2.1 miles north on Hwy 144. Turn left on CR 2530 and go 0.6 miles to 349 CR 2530; turn left into Rafter D Ranch.
A stay at Ann's House is a great way to escape everything but the wildlife. These 40 acres along the Bosque River are arranged with the wildlife enthusiast in mind. The cottage is encircled with numerous feeders, attracting Inca Doves, American Goldfinch and swarms of Black-chinned Hummingbirds. The fields to the north of the house are home to Lark Sparrow and Eastern Kingbird while the woodlands to the south are home to Painted Bunting and White-eyed Vireo. Other birds include Cardinal, House Finch, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee and Eastern Bluebird. Numerous plantings around the house serve as a magnet for butterflies, including Tawny Emperor, Queen, Oak Hairstreak, and Monarch. There are also several ponds scattered across the property providing loafing sites for Red-eared Sliders and feeding sites for Cattle Egrets and Killdeer.