Clear Fork Loop
- Benbrook Area COC, 817-249-4451, www.benbrookchamber.org
- Fort Worth CVB, 800-433-5747, www.fortworth.com
- Granbury CVB, 800-950-2212, www.granburytx.com
Benbrook Lake - Holiday Park
Holiday Park Day Use Area: From I-20 in southwest Fort Worth, take Exit 429A for US 377 to Granbury. Go southwest on US 377 for 2.2 miles to Stevens Dr. Turn left (east) 0.4 mile to Lakeview Dr. Go left (north) on Lakeview Dr., entering the park after 0.7 mile.
Holiday Park's day use area grants visitors access to the western shore of Benbrook Lake via a 7.3-mile horseback and hiking trail. This area is primarily open parkland with shrubs on the western margin and a few towering trees dotting the shoreline. Search the tree branches for Eastern and Western Kingbirds and Great Crested and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. During the winter months, Cedar Waxwings perch in these same trees. The brushy areas provide perches for Painted Bunting and cover for Northern Bobwhite. Also watch for quail along the roadsides early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Benbrook Lake itself is worth a look any time of year, with Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelican, Franklin's or Ring-billed Gulls or perhaps a more unusual vagrant possible.
Holiday Park Campground: From the intersection of US 377 and FM 1187, go northeast 0.6 mile on US 377, crossing the bridge over the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, to Pearl Ranch Dr. Turn right (east) on Pearl Ranch Dr., go 1.7 miles to the park entrance.
Just south of Holiday Camp Day Use Area is the Holiday Camp Campground. This area of lakefront includes grasslands, interspersed shrub land and a number of majestic oak trees. The oaks bring welcome shade, and in spring and fall are filled with migrants. Birds to look for include White-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Near the shoreline, watch for roosting Black and Turkey Vultures or the occasional migrant, such as Yellow Warbler. The small inlet of Benbrook lake near the campground is a good place to look for herons, egrets and Wood Duck. This area provides a clear view of the lake, with numerous Cliff Swallows and Chimney Swifts skirting its surface for a drink. To get a great picture of these and others, follow the park's 0.25-mile level-grade hiking trail to the photography blind located along the north river bank of the Trinity River's Clear Fork mouth.
Benbrook Lake Natural Area - Trinity Flats
From the intersection of US 377 and FM 1187 East in southwest Fort Worth, go 0.1 mile northeast on US 377 and turn right (east) to go below the US 377 bridge over the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. This will take you to a parking area and access point.
The first thing a visitor to Trinity Flats will notice during spring or summer is the considerable nesting colony of Cliff Swallows under the US 377 bridge. Careful inspection will reveal dozens of these architectural wonders of mud. From here, go east along the edge of the Trinity River's Clear Fork. A dirt road parallels the forest and at times runs between open prairie and bottomland. Because of the diversity, this road is ideal for seeing species of both habitats and numerous side trails allow a more in-depth study of either. Look along the bottoms for Barred Owl, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, Carolina Wren and Summer Tanager. On the prairie side of the road, keep a look out for Indigo Bunting and Eastern Kingbird. The road is regularly patrolled by Red-shouldered Hawks in search of their next meal. For those early bird visitors, Rio Grande Turkey can often be seen in the mornings. Please note that public access may be limited from Sept. 1 to Jan. 31 annually, when the area is open to (restricted) hunting.
Wheaton: Pyramid Road
From the intersection of Hwy. 377 and I-20 in Benbrook, drive south on Hwy. 377 for 6.7 miles. At the highway crossover, turn left onto Pyramid Rd. and follow this gravel road 1.5 miles into the subdivision.
Before Fort Worth exploded to its current size, much of the area must have looked something like Pyramid Rd. These few acres of rolling prairie and shrub land offer great wildlife-watching opportunities. Listening to the birds on an early summer morning will make you wonder if the Northern Bobwhites and Dickcissels are in a singing competition, since both songs can be heard from every direction. Add to that the Eastern Meadowlarks and you have a beautiful cacophony of sound that needs to be heard to be believed. Listen carefully and you may be able to pick out the insect-like calling of the Grasshopper Warbler among the rest of the songsters. While other birds are singing, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds can be seen performing their always-impressive aerial display, as Red and Black Saddlebags and Common Green Darners zip back and forth at eye level. Painted Buntings perch atop their respective bushes, occasionally adding a few jingling notes to the morning air.
Winscott Plover Road
From the intersection of US 377 and FM 1187 East in southwest Fort Worth, go 3.9 miles east on FM 1187. Turn right onto Winscott Plover Rd. and proceed 1.6 miles to railroad tracks. After the railroad tracks, turn right and follow 2.6 miles to the stop sign.
Winscott Plover Rd. spans over 4 miles of open prairie complete with fencerows and telephone lines, making it a haven for wintering raptors. In fact, almost every raptor recorded in north-central Texas has been found along this road. This includes not only the Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk, but the Golden Eagle and Prairie Falcon as well. At other times of the year a variety of species can be seen. In summer, look and listen for Dickcissel, Eastern Meadowlark, Loggerhead Shrike and the occasional Grasshopper Sparrow. The area is also frequented by roosting Common Nighthawks, which can often be found perched on fence poles and even telephone lines along the road.
Benbrook Lake - Mustang Park and Mustang Point Campground
From the intersection of US 377 and FM 1187 East in southwest Fort Worth, go 3.9 miles east on FM 1187, then left (north) on CR 1042/Winscott Plover Rd. for 1.2 miles to park entrance.
Mustang Point is perhaps the best vantage to view the southern end of Lake Benbrook, a wildlife haven on the outskirts of metropolitan Fort Worth. This thin peninsula, complete with access road and parking at its tip, permits visitors to venture out into the lake. Area regulars such as Forster's Tern and Franklin's Gull, as well as migrant shorebirds such as Spotted and White-rumped Sandpipers, come to perch out on the point. In contrast to 15 to 20 years ago when turkey were extinct in Tarrant County, visitors today can catch a glimpse of a Rio Grande Turkey in the mornings. The lake has produced several unusual species for the area, including Laughing Gull and Whimbrel. Waterfowl frequent the lake in winter and Common Loon may be seen at times. Great Blue Heron and Great Egret can be observed along the shoreline, while Great Crested Flycatcher can be heard calling from the surrounding, taller trees. Look for white-tailed deer grazing on the roadside or the occasional roadrunner darting after a lizard.
Benbrook Lake - Rocky Creek Park
From I-20 in southwest Fort Worth, take Exit 434A for Granbury Rd. Go southwest 2.7 miles to Alta Mesa Blvd., continue straight ahead on Granbury Rd. south for 1 mile to a "T"-intersection at Colombus Rd. Turn right onto Colombus Rd and go 0.5 mile to Old Granbury Rd./CR 1902, turn left and go 2 miles to Rocky Creek Park Rd. just before turning east and crossing the railroad tracks. Continue straight ahead on Rocky Creek Park Rd. 1.1 miles to the park entrance.
Rocky Creek Park, with its open grassy banks and oak shrouded inlets, provides access to the southeast corner of Benbrook Lake. Search along the shoreline for scavenging Black Vultures and teetering Spotted Sandpipers. Also, scan the waves for migrant Black Terns flapping among the breeding Forster's Terns. Carefully check the gull flocks to pick out a rare Laughing Gull among the regular Franklin's Gulls, or perhaps a western oddity among the Ring-billed Gulls. As you move inland towards the vegetation in the back of the park, listen for the calls of Indigo and Painted Buntings, or search the shrub cover for a glimpse of Northern Bobwhite. This area supports a diversity of wildlife and a patient visitor will be rewarded with some great viewing of area spectacles such as a Rio Grande Turkey in the morning hours.
Benbrook Lake Natural Area - Richardson Area
From I-20 in southwest Fort Worth, take Exit 434A for Granbury Rd. Go southwest 2.7 miles to Alta Mesa Blvd. Continue straight ahead on Granbury Rd. south for 1 mile to a "T"-intersection at Colombus Rd. Turn right onto Colombus Rd. and go 0.5 mile to Old Granbury Rd./CR 1902. Turn left and go 0.8 mile to the parking area and access point on the right.
In spring, the Richardson Area of the Benbrook Lake Natural Area is a riot of color with thousands of Indian paintbrush, Mexican blanket, black-eyed Susan and other wildflowers. The flowers attract a great diversity of butterflies, including Orange and Dainty Sulphurs, Hackberry Emperors, Red Admirals and several species of Swallowtail. The open fields of wildflowers are also frequented by Dickcissel and Eastern Meadowlark. Raptors such as American Kestrel can also be seen. For the adventurous, a hike along the eastern shore of Benbrook Lake can produce Wood Duck, Little Blue Heron, and many other species including the Rio Grande Turkey, which at one point was extinct from the area. Please note that public access to the area may be limited from Sept. 1 to Jan. 31 annually for (restricted) hunting.
Fort Worth Oakmont Park
From I-20 in southwest Fort Worth, take Exit 431 for Bryant Irvin Blvd. Go southwest 1.4 miles to Oakmont Blvd. Turn right onto Oakmont Blvd. and go 0.7 mile to Bellaire Dr. South. Turn right and go 0.1 mile to the park on the left.
Oakmont Park presents some of the best urban wildlife watching Fort Worth has to offer. With many miles of cement trails rolling across a gently undulating landscape, the park is fully ADA accessible. Open playing areas and a playground are combined with hardwood bottomland of a northern branch of the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. Look for Western Kingbird and search overhead for Purple Martin and Chimney Swift. In the riparian woodland, check the Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee flocks for less common species such as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Downy Woodpecker or perhaps a migrant warbler or two. Also, check noisy chattering for Carolina Wrens or perhaps a Bewick's Wren. Along the Clear Fork of the Trinity, check the numerous red-eared sliders for more anomalous turtles such as Mississippi map or western chicken. Don't be surprised to see several Great Blue Herons wading in this tiny stream. The herons nest just a mile or so down the trail and several pairs are usually in evidence at the rookery.