Lake Worth Loop
- Fort Worth CVB, 800-433-5747, www.fortworth.com
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
From I-820 in Fort Worth, take Exit 10A and follow Hwy. 199 west 3.7 miles. Exit at Confederate Rd. and turn right into the refuge at the stop sign. Stop at the gatehouse to pay admission and find out about the daily events. Follow the signs 1.6 miles to the visitor center.
The Fort Worth Nature Center encompasses several thousand acres of the best habitats north central Texas has to offer. The area molds around the northern shores of Lake Worth leading from prime Trinity River bottomland, through Cross Timbers oak savannah, to prairie grassland complete with black-tailed prairie dogs and bison. The entire property makes for great wildlife viewing. Of particular interest is the short boardwalk that leads the visitor out to a marsh full of wildlife. In summer this area hosts Prothonotary Warbler and Indigo Bunting calling from the shoreline. At times Mississippi Kite can be seen feasting on dragonflies above the lake. The area also supports a variety of herons and egrets, and waterfowl are plentiful in the winter months.
The woodland canopy hosts numerous Red-eyed Vireo and Yellow-billed Cuckoo during the summer. The fortunate observer may find a Pileated Woodpecker. In winter kinglets are found hopping from tree to tree while Spotted Towhee and Brown Thrasher are hopping on the ground. As the path begins to climb and the bottoms give way to a rock escarpment, look for Texas whiptails or Texas spiny lizards. Perhaps a Halloween Pennant dragonfly will join you and the more numerous Eastern Pondhawks perched along the path.
On the prairie, the wildlife changes once again with Scissor-tailed Flycatchers slicing through the air and Painted Buntings singing from the intermittent bushes during the summer months. Watch for bison quietly grazing in the sun. In the winter months, the prairie invites Northern Harriers to comb the grasses for prey while native sparrows flee to the grasses for cover.
If all these viewing opportunities are not enough, the Fort Worth Nature Center also offers an interpretive center that regularly holds educational events as well as displays local wildlife such as reptiles, birds and mammals. They even have a gift shop where you can stock up on gifts or the latest field guides.
Camp Joy and Wildwood Park
From I-820 in Fort Worth, take Exit 10A. Go west onto SR 199/Lake Worth Blvd. for 3.7 miles. Turn off onto the ramp (FM 1886/Confederate Park Rd.) and go left (west) on FM 1886/Confederate Park Rd. for 0.8 mile to Lakeridge Rd. Turn left (south) and follow 0.6 mile to Watercress Dr. and Lake Worth. At the end of the road Camp Joy will be to the left and Wildwood Park is to the right.
Camp Joy and Wildwood Park are located near one another along Lake Worth's southwest shore. Camp Joy, the smaller of the two, is a mostly open expanse with a mix of large trees scattered along the shoreline. This area provides an excellent vantage point to search the lake, which in the winter months supports a variety of waterfowl as well as Common Loon and Eared Grebe. Spring and fall migration brings the chance to see American White Pelican and a variety of gulls and terns, some of which are notably rare in the area. Wildwood Park is located west of Camp Joy and combines shoreline access with a largely undisturbed tract of bottomland forest. This area is best known for occasionally hosting Bald Eagles, which have been known to nest here. Other species to look for include Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, White-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager and Indigo Bunting.
Old State Fish Hatchery, Lake Worth
From Northwest Loop 820 in Fort Worth, take Exit 10A to Jacksboro Hwy./Hwy. 199. Proceed southeast on Jacksboro Hwy. toward downtown Fort Worth for 2.5 miles to River Oaks Blvd. Turn right onto River Oaks Blvd. and proceed 1.2 miles to Roberts Cutoff Rd. Turn right onto Roberts Cutoff Rd. Proceed on Roberts Cutoff Rd. for about 100 yards and take the first left onto Meandering Rd. Stay on Meandering Rd. It will cross the Trinity River and after 1.3 miles take a right turn onto Sand Springs Rd. The road turns left at the entrance to Camp Carter. Keep going until you see Lake Worth Dam on your left. Parallel the dam until you see the entrance to the fish hatchery on the right after 0.6 mile. Park inside the entrance on the fish hatchery grounds.
The Old State Fish Hatchery is located just below the Lake Worth Dam and hugs the Trinity River. The area's original use as a hatchery has left numerous ponds and levees for the enjoyment of wildlife and wildlife watchers. This area is a great place to see waterfowl in the winter months and herons, egrets, dragonflies and butterflies in the summer. The ponds are also very attractive to turtles and water snakes. Visitors should inquire at the headquarters about water levels in the various ponds. Ponds with little water and lots of moist mud can attract birds such as Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, White-faced Ibis and a variety of migrant shorebirds. Ponds with floating vegetation are better suited for dragonflies. Follow the entrance road to its end to experience Trinity River bottomland, with Red-eyed Vireo and Carolina Wren filling the woods with their songs.
Tarrant County Junior College - NW Campus and Marine Creek Lake
From Northwest Loop 820 in Fort Worth, take the Marine Creek Pkwy Exit 0.1 mile to the college. Turn left onto campus and proceed 0.2 mile to the first stop sign. Turn left and go 0.1 mile to parking.
Similar to the other lakes in Fort Worth, Marine Creek Lake is best known for attracting waterfowl during the winter months. The lake also supports a variety of wading birds year-round, including Great Blue, Little Blue and Green Herons and both Great and Snowy Egrets. Red-winged Blackbird and rails can be seen in the lake's shallow inlets. The shores of the lake are mostly open with areas of interspersed brush, where Brown Thrasher and Eastern and Western Kingbirds can be observed.