Lake Lavon Loop
- Allen COC, 927-727-5585, www.allenchamber.com
- City of Garland, 972-205-2000, www.ci.garland.tx.us
- McKinney CVB, 888-649-8499, www.mckinneycvb.org
- Plano CVB, 800-81-PLANO, www.planocvb.com
- Richardson CVB, 888-690-7287, www.richardsontexas.org
- Wylie COC, 972-442-2804, www.wyliechamber.org
Woodland Basin Nature Area
From I 635 in Dallas take the Centerville Rd. Exit. Go north on Centerville Rd. for 3.75 miles to Miller Rd. Turn right and go 0.5 miles to the entrance drive on the right.
Located at the confluence of Rowlett Creek and Lake Ray Hubbard, this moist woodland, subject to periodic flooding, provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife.
A walk along the creek will reveal large willow, pecan, sycamore, and oak trees. Understory plants include green ash, eastern redbud and soapberry. Vegetation growing along the creek provides habitat for birds such as Common Yellowthroat and Red-winged Blackbird.
Dragonflies such as Widow Skimmers and Great Blue Skimmers are common along the banks of the creek. Birds commonly seen include Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, and Northern Cardinal.
Rowlett Creek Greenbelt
From I 635 in Dallas take the Centerville Rd. Exit. Go north on Centerville Rd. 5.5 miles to Castle Dr. Turn right at Castle Dr. into the parking lot.
This 350-acre site consists of open prairie and dense, moist riparian woodland. Colorful wildflowers such as Mexican hat, Indian blanket, black-eyed Susan, winecup, coneflower, and yarrow grow with a variety of grasses in the open prairie. A very large American elm tree shades a picnic area near the beginning of the trail, where you can watch open grassland birds such as Cliff Swallows, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds. Look and listen for Indigo and Painted Buntings as you approach the wooded area.
Please check the bulletin board for trail information. The dominant trees in wooded areas include pecan, oak, American elm, and cottonwood. Understory plants include cedar elm, sugar hackberry, sycamore and green ash. The trails move through many low-lying areas so be careful of flooding during heavy rains. This site is maintained by the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association and is a favorite for off road bicycling, so be sure to bring your bike when you visit.
Phone: 972-205-2750, www.dorba.org
Lake Lavon Trinity Trail
Lake Lavon Trinity Trail is located on the southwest portion of Lavon Lake, approximately 1 mile east of Wylie, Texas. To get to the south end of the lake from Wylie, go northeast on SR 78/ Lavon Pkwy for 0.5 miles. Turn left (north) onto Eubanks and follow 0.5 miles to CR 384 and the entrance to East Fork Park. Turn left (west) on CR 384. Immediately to the right is the entrance to the trailhead marked with a white piperail fence.
The Trinity Trail is a 9-mile hiking and equestrian trail that follows the southwest edge of Lake Lavon from the trailhead near the intersection of CR 384 and CR 389 to Brockdale Park. The trail traverses a variety of habitats including lake, marsh, moist woodlands, open woodlands, and prairie.
A wildlife checklist is available from the Corps of Engineers office. Birds to look for include Common Loons, American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, Tricolored Herons, Great Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Herons, White-faced Ibises, Wood Ducks, Marsh Wrens, Cooper's Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, Black-necked Stilts, Forster's Terns, Black-billed Cuckoos, Whip-poor-wills, Belted and Green Kingfishers, Golden-fronted, Ladder-backed and Pileated Woodpeckers, Willow Flycatchers, Loggerhead Shrikes, Horned Larks, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Northern Waterthrush, and Common Yellowthroats.
Mammals documented around the lake include Porcupine, Fox, Mink, River Otter, Bobcat, and Black-tailed Prairie Dog. Look for racers, kingsnakes, water snakes, and bullsnakes. In addition to the abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities that the Trinity Trail provides, Lake Lavon offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Phone: 972-442-3141, www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/lavon/
Sprng Crk Prk & Sprng Crk For Preserves
From Hwy 75 North/ Central Expressway in Dallas, take the SH 190/ President George Bush Hwy Exit. Turn right and go east approximately 4.5 miles to Holford Rd. Turn right (southwest) and go south 0.5 miles to the driveway on the left. Continue another 0.1 miles to the driveway on the right.
Visitors can walk through beautiful bottomland forest located in the floodplain of Spring Creek. This park, located on the edge of North Garland, has an overstory of chinquapin, bur and shumard oaks, some of them 100-300 years old. This rich habitat supports over 550 species of plants and animals.
On the east side of Holford Road, the preserve has a paved trail through woodlands to Spring Creek. This area has large pecan, oak and cottonwood trees with a relatively open understory of saplings, red mulberry, cedar elm, green ash and eastern red-cedar. Snails, lizards and butterflies are common along the trail to Spring Creek. In summer look for common bird species such as Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Great-crested Flycatcher, Swainson's Hawk, and White-eyed Vireo. Watch for Olive-sided Flycatcher, Catbird, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Blue-headed Vireo during migration.
The west side of Holford Road has a denser understory with unpaved, more primitive trails. This area offers solitude and excellent bird watching opportunities. The sound of the running stream relaxes visitors sitting on benches beneath the dense tree canopy.
The Preservation Society for Spring Creek Forest maintains the preserve. Future plans include educational activities and guided tours. With their help, this preserve will continue to protect valuable wildlife habitat and provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
Phone: 972-205-2750, www.springcreekforest.org
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
From I-35 East in Dallas, take Exit 448A and go northeast on SR 121 approximately 4 miles to FM 544/Parker Road. Follow Parker Road east approximately 3 miles to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve.
When you enter the preserve, listen for common birds such as Blue Jays, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Carolina Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Chickadees.
The paved and unpaved hiking and biking trails lead into the open woodlands and prairies characteristic of the park. The woodlands are dominated by cedar elm, bur oak, red oak and eastern red-cedar. Cottonwoods, pecan, red mulberry and black willows dominate the overstory while yaupon, Hercules-club, sugar hackberry, black locust and osage-orange are common understory shrubs.
The stream provides habitat for a variety of birds, and Gulf Fritillary, Giant Swallowtail and Monarch-mimicking Viceroy butterflies are common. A variety of damselflies and dragonflies also patrol the stream. This nature preserve offers many opportunities for outdoor activities and an escape from the bustle of the city.
Phone: 972-941-7250, www.planoparks.org
From Hwy 75 North/ Central Expressway in Allen, take Exit 34 to McDermott Drive. Turn west on McDermott Drive and go 1.0 mile to Alma Drive. Turn left (south) on Alma Drive and go 0.8 miles to Tatum Drive, an unpaved road on the left. Park on Tatum Drive and then walk along it until you reach the bridge; walk across the bridge to enter the Connemara Meadow. A pecan grove will appear on your left as you do so.
This site is an oasis of open meadow in a suburban, residential area. Rowlett Creek borders the property and provides habitat for fish, amphibians, and insects. A bird and plant checklist is available from the Connemara office.
Walk through the pecan grove, along the stream, and follow the trail around the meadow. Prairie grasses and wildflowers such as Mexican hat, yarrow, Indian blanket, vetch and winecup abound in the meadow. Watch the fencerows for Cliff Swallows, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and American Kestrels; more than 100 bird species have been observed here. Giant Swallowtail butterflies are common along the stream.
Begun in 1981, The Connemara Conservancy is a land trust dedicated to preservation of open space areas in North Central Texas. This 72-acre property preserves an important open space in a developed area. It is a popular site to walk and enjoy the outdoors. The terraces on the hillside harken back to when cotton was grown on this once agricultural landscape.
Phone: 214-351-0990, www.connemaraconservancy.org
Heard Natural Science Museum and WL sanc
On Hwy 75 North/ Central Expressway in Dallas, go north approximately 20 miles to Exit 38A. Go east on Hwy 121 for 0.75 miles to Hwy 5. Go right (south) on Hwy 5 for 0.75 miles to FM 1378. Turn left on FM 1378 and drive 1.0 mile to museum entrance.
This 289-acre wildlife sanctuary has over three miles of interpreter-led or self-guided nature trails. Approximately two-thirds of the sanctuary lies within the floodplain of Wilson Creek. Habitats include permanent and ephemeral wetlands, bottomland hardwood forests, and upland prairie. The sanctuary is a haven for more than 240 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians and almost 150 species of wildflowers. Upland portions of the sanctuary are being managed to provide habitat for the Texas Horned Lizard.
A walk through the native plant garden helps visitors identify and learn about native wildflowers, plants and trees. The science museum features excellent exhibits and educational opportunities. Don't miss the snake exhibit, with live snakes representing all ecoregions of Texas.
After a tour through the museum, obtain a self-guided trail brochure and take a hike. The Hoot-Owl Trail meanders through bottomland hardwood forest. This trail features a large 250-year old bur oak along with black walnut, pecan, cedar elm, American elm, and green ash. Understory trees include Carolina buckthorn, rusty blackhaw, red mulberry, Eve's necklace and soapberry. An array of vines including grapevine, rattan vine, greenbrier and poison-ivy can be seen in the forest. Flowers along the prairie portion of the trail include trout lily, golden groundsel, wild onion, and white avens.
This sanctuary offers unique opportunities to view a wide diversity of bird species year-round. Nesting species include Prothonotary and Parula Warblers, Hooded Mergansers, Wood Ducks, and Anhingas. The heron rookery is always fascinating during the breeding season. The oldest bird banding station in Texas is located here, offering unique interpretive opportunities during spring and fall banding of Neotropical migratory songbirds.
In addition to the extensive array of avian species, you might catch a glimpse of a Spotted Skunk, Flying Squirrel, Beaver, Bat or even a Bobcat. Southern Leopard Frogs, Strecker's Chorus Frog, Woodhouse's Toad, Southern Copperheads, Western Cottonmouths, Prairie Kingsnakes, Eastern Coachwhips, Alligator Snapping Turtles, Ornate Box Turtles, Texas Spotted Whiptails, Texas Horned Lizards, and Texas Spiny Lizards are some of the amphibians and reptiles that can be seen.
Phone: 972-562-5566, www.heardmuseum.org