Great Texas Wildlife Trails Celebrate 25 Years
If you’re a big birder, a dragonfly devotee, a bat booster or any kind of wildlife watcher, the Great Texas Wildlife Trails will help you see the wild side of Texas. The program’s nine regional driving trails contain wildlife hotspots across the entire state.
TPWD is celebrating the 25th anniversary of these trails that help you tour Texas, complete with driving directions and insider tips. View the mobile-friendly website with interactive maps here. Also available online, order a special, newly updated three-map set of the original coastal trails for only $10, a full set of Great Texas Wildlife Trails maps for $25 or a single map of your choice for $5.
The wildlife trail maps include publicly accessible sites such as state parks and nature preserves, with descriptions of what kind of wildlife can be seen at each place. In the Rio Grande Valley, the Santa Ana Loop of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail includes Quinta Mazatlan, which promises chachalacas, great kiskadees and green jays. (Other stops on the loop include the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and the McAllen Botanical Garden.)
At the Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area, which is a stop on the Canadian Breaks Loop of the Panhandle Plains Wildlife Trail, prairie dogs are a top attraction along with wild turkeys, Mississippi kites and grassland birds. On the Texas coast during winter, boat tours to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge — listed as a stop on the Aransas Loop of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail — offer a chance to see endangered whooping cranes, North America’s largest bird.
“The beauty of a Great Texas Wildlife Trail is that it packages many of the best wildlife viewing sites into one usable tool, making them easier to find,” says Joshua Lee, GTWT coordinator. “You might go to visit a state park but then stay to visit other stops on the trail.”
The idea to group wildlife sites into a wildlife driving trail was hatched at TPWD in 1996 with three birding trails along the coast. Texas now has wildlife driving trails across the state. Other states have embraced the idea as well.
“We were the first ones to have birding and wildlife trails,” Lee says. “In 1996, no other state had one. Now, more than 40 states have birding or wildlife trails based on the Texas model.”
Visit tpwd.texas.gov/wildlifetrails for more information.
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