Brazos Valley Loop
- Bryan-College Station CVB, 800-777-8292, www.bryan-collegestation.org
- Calvert COC, (979) 364-2559, www.rtis.com/reg/calvert
- Rosebud COC, 254-583-7979, www.rtis.com/reg/rosebud
Lick Creek Park
From the intersection of University Dr. and SR 6 in College Station, go southeast on SR 6 for 6.4 miles to the Greens Prairie Rd. Exit. Turn left (northeast) on Greens Prairie Rd. for 1.8 miles to Rock Prairie Rd. Turn right on Rock Prairie Rd. and go 1.4 miles to the park entrance and parking area on the right.
This is the premier nature preserve in College Station. Depending on the time of year, a visit to the 515-acre Lick Creek Park can reveal a variety of different birds. Listen for the "peents" and "whirrs" of displaying American Woodcock in late winter or the warbles of Painted Bunting in early summer. A diversity of warblers and vireos can be seen during migration, and nesting species include Northern Parula, Kentucky and Swainson's Warblers, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos and Summer Tanager. During the winter months, the shrubs fill with Savannah, Vesper, Field and White-throated Sparrows. Henslow's Sparrow has also been seen. Look for armadillos rooting in the leaf litter or reptiles and amphibians along the creek. Approximately 3.5 miles of improved trails are available to the public.
D.A. "Andy" Anderson Arboretum
From the intersection of University Dr. and Texas Ave./SR 6 Business in College Station, go southeast on Texas Ave./SR 6 Business for 2.1 miles to Southwest Pkwy. Turn right (southwest) on Southwest Pkwy. for 0.3 mile to Anderson St. Turn left on Anderson St. and travel to the parking lot in Bee Creek Park at the end of the road.
The D.A. "Andy" Anderson Arboretum provides access to a variety of habitats right in downtown College Station. This natural area is part of Bee Creek Park and is connected to other city parks with an extensive pedestrian and bicycle trail system. Walking the numerous trails through the forest will eventually lead to the banks of Bee Creek and several wooded ponds. These areas have a diversity of birds throughout the year. In summer, Green Heron and Yellow-billed Cuckoo can be heard calling from above the ponds, while Painted Buntings flit along the edges of woodland. During winter look for skulking species such as Brown Thrasher and Hermit Thrush in the thick undergrowth. Look for roosting nightjars during migration, along with migrating warblers and vireos. Killdeer can often be seen on the neighboring baseball field and Purple Martin and Chimney Swift cruise overhead.
Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History
From the intersection of University Dr. and SR 6 in College Station, go north on SR 6 for 1.7 miles to the Briarcrest Dr. Exit. Turn right (northeast) on Briarcrest Dr./FM 1179 and follow it northeast 0.3 mile to the museum on the right.
As the only natural history museum in the Brazos Valley, the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History inspires visitors by showcasing the best of Earth in nature, science and history through outstanding exhibits, programs, camps and events. New exhibits are shown 3 to 4 times per year, and the museum hosts an annual butterfly release, Wish Upon a Butterfly, the last Saturday in July. The museum's largest free public event is the annual heritage festival, Boonville Days. This festival is held in early October and features the Buffalo Stampede Half Marathon and 5K Race, an authentic Chuck Wagon Cook-off and demonstrators showcasing pioneer skills and local Texas history. The museum's Discovery Room features live animals and an observation bee hive. Permanent exhibits on display include Ice Age mammals, Texas history, dinosaur fossils and other natural history specimens.
Visitors can enjoy an interpretive nature trail that traverses the woods behind the museum. Look for White-eyed, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated and Blue-headed Vireos during spring, with both White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos staying to nest. In winter, look for White-throated and Lincoln's Sparrows along with resident Carolina Wren and Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers. The bridge near the museum on the eastern corner of the property is a good place to test your identification skills for Barn, Cliff and Cave Swallows.
From the intersection of University Dr./FM 60 and Texas Ave./Business SR 6 in College Station, drive west on University Dr./FM 60 for 2.6 miles to FM 2818. Turn right onto FM 2818 and travel north 6.8 miles to FM 1687. Turn left onto FM 1687 and go 3.3 miles to the entrance to the lake on the right.
Lake Bryan is best in winter when waterfowl and American White Pelican are present in large numbers. During summer, check the pilings for roosting Forster's Tern and watch the shallows for stalking Great Blue Heron and Great Egret. During migration the shoreline can attract a variety of shorebirds such as Least, Pectoral, White-rumped and Baird's Sandpipers. Look for Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the surrounding woodlands and Marsh and Sedge Wrens in the lakeside reeds. Check the shoreline vegetation for Rambur's Forktail and other damselflies, and dragonflies such as Eastern Amberwing, Blue Dasher and Red Saddlebags. Over the years, a number of rarities have been seen on the lake, including Tundra Swan and Hudsonian Godwit.
Rosebud City Lake
From the intersection of US 77 North and SR 53 in the town of Rosebud, go west on SR 53 for 2 miles to CR 347. Turn left (south) and go 100 yards to the lake.
This small reservoir just outside the town of Rosebud provides easy access to wetlands and open grassland. A loop road reaches most corners of the lake. In winter, check for a variety of waterfowl, including American Coot and Ruddy Duck. Scan the shoreline for Spotted Sandpiper during migration. The surrounding grasslands provide habitat for Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Kingbird and Dickcissel, as well as Monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries and Spicebush Swallowtails. In summer, scan the surface of the water for Cliff and Barn Swallows along with dragonflies such as Black and Carolina Saddlebags.
From Thorndale, turn on N FM 486 at the traffic light. Go 4 miles, turn right (east) on FM 908, travel 3 miles to entrance on left. Follow El Camino Real signs from Thorndale to Apache Pass. Entrance is directly off of N FM 908 and CR 428, and 8 miles north of Hwy. 79.
Apache Pass Crossing is a state and national historic site and part of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail. From spring to fall you can view a large Great Blue Heron nesting site, migration of Sandhill Cranes, geese and ducks, butterflies, fireflies and nesting squirrels in the native pecan trees. The San Gabriel River sports shallow gravel bars for wading, rock hunting and viewing various fish, minnows and mussels. Over 100 species of birds have been observed. Mammals include deer, armadillo, opossums, skunks, bobcat, fox, coyote and beaver. There are two walking bridges over the San Gabriel River. One is an "Indiana Jones" type bridge that is as long as a football field and is a walking bridge only. The other bridge accommodates golf carts, bicycles and other small modes of transportation.
Frances Nabours Griffin Bird Sanctuary, Wilson-Ledbetter Park
From Hwy. 36/190, go west on PM 1600 for 0.9 mile and the park will be on the left.
The Frances Nabours Bird Sanctuary is located at the historic 100-year-old Wilson-Ledbetter Park. The park was donated in 191 by Lizzie Batey Ledbetter Wilson. Many of the public buildings were constructed out of petrified wood and local stone by the Civil Works Administration in the early 1930s. The location of the park lies adjacent to the current route of El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail.
Ledbetter Park is 26 acres of lush trees, including a 4-acre lake and iron walking bridge. The park is located at the edge of town and is bordered by open fields in a transition area between the Blackland Prairie and the Post Oak Savannah ecoregions. The land slopes east to the Little River Basin.
The lake is surrounded by beautiful live oak and elm. In the spring, the lush hills are host to many species of wildflowers and butterflies. Many migrating birds shelter here in the winter, most commonly found are herons, woodpeckers, cardinals and Blue Jay. On occasion you may see Black-bellied Whistling Duck in the spring and summer. Camping is available with special permit.