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
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 mile 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 Eagle and Common Loon in the winter and Franklin's Gull 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.
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 mile to S. Colorado St. Turn left (south) on S. Colorado St. and follow 0.4 mile 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 Tern 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 Vireo and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 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 Turkey and Bald Eagle.
Clifton City Park
From the intersection of Hwy. 6 and FM 219 in Clifton, turn east on FM 219 for 0.4 mile to FM 219/Park Rd. 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 Flycatcher and Red-bellied Woodpecker. The dense thickets host Black-crested Titmouse and White-eyed Vireo. During migration the park can host all sorts of surprises, from colorful warblers to flycatchers. Watch carefully for beavers 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. Waterbirds such as Great Blue and Green Herons, and Snowy Egret can be seen flying up and down the river. Also check the shallow puddles, especially on a hot Texas day, for bathing Northern Cardinal, Orchard Oriole and Dickcissel.
(800) 344-3720, (254) 675-8337
From the intersection of Hwy. 6 and FM 219 in Clifton, go west on FM 219 for 0.2 mile 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 Dove, Common Grackle, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay and Northern Mockingbird 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 Swift.
Norse Historic District
From the intersection of SR 6 and FM 219 in Clifton take FM 219 east for 3.4 miles to CR 4150 and veer right to CR 4145. 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 Sparrow, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Western Kingbird, 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 bluebonnet, Indian paintbrush and Mexican blanket. These fields also attract an array of butterflies, including Monarch, Red Admiral, Spicebush Swallow-tail and Orange Sulphur.
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 Heron and Wood Duck, listen carefully for White-eyed Vireo and Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the surrounding trees. The lake also attracts dragonflies such as Blue Dashers and Eastern Pondhawks, which can be spotted swarming on many of the lake's inlets. The Shinnery Ridge 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 pairs nest along the trail. Other birds to look for along the trail include Greater Roadrunner, Black-chinned Hummingbird and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Also watch for the nine-banded armadillo, which is quite common in the park.
From the intersection of SR 6 and SR 22 in Meridian go north on SR 22 for 0.4 mile 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 October, the rest of the year the area is left for RV or dry camping and the birds. The vast open grassy areas host Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Lark Sparrow and Dickcissel. 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.