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
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 Swallow, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Western Kingbird. 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.
Lake Lavon Trinity Trail
Lake Lavon Trinity Trail is located on the southwest portion of Lavon Lake, approximately 1 mile east of Wylie. To get to the south end of the lake from Wylie, go northeast on SR 78/Lavon Pkwy for 0.5 mile. Turn left (north) onto Eubanks and follow 0.5 mile 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 Loon, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Tricolored Heron, Great Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-faced Ibis, Wood Duck, Marsh Wren, Cooper's and Ferruginous Hawks, Black-necked Stilt, Forster's Tern, Black-billed Cuckoo, Whip-poor-will, Belted and Green Kingfishers, woodpeckers, Willow Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Horned Lark, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Northern Waterthrush and Common Yellowthroat.
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.
Spring Creek Park Preserve and Spring Creek Forest Preserve
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 mile to the driveway on the left. Continue another 0.1 mile 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 Rd., 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 Rd. has a denser understory with unpaved, more primitive trails. This area offers solitude and excellent birdwatching opportunities. The sound of the running stream relaxes visitors sitting on benches beneath the dense tree canopy.
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 Rd. Follow Parker Rd. east approximately 3 miles to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve.
When you enter the preserve, listen for common birds such as Blue Jay, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee.
The natural surface and concrete 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. Cottonwood, pecan, red mulberry and black willow 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.
From Hwy. 75 North/Central Expressway in Allen, take Bethany Dr. west to Alma Dr. Turn left (south) on Alma Dr. and go 0.8 mile to Suncreek Park on the left. Park in the park, walk down the concrete path to Rowlett Creek, follow the path to the left until you see the old steel bridge and then walk into 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 Swallow, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and American Kestrel; more than 100 bird species have been observed here. Giant Swallowtail butterflies are common along the stream. 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.
Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary
On Hwy. 75 North/Central Expressway in Dallas, go north approximately 20 miles to Exit 38A. Go east on Hwy. 121 for 0.75 mile to Hwy. 5. Go right (south) on Hwy. 5 for 0.75 mile to FM 1378. Turn left on FM 1378 and drive 1 mile to museum entrance.
This 289-acre wildlife sanctuary has over 3 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.
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 Warbler and Northern Parula, Hooded Merganser, Wood Duck and Anhinga. 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, 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.