Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Brazoria Loop

Brazoria Loop map

Brazoria Loop mapBrazosport Nature Center & Planetarium (NCAP)Sea Center TexasDow Centennial Bottomlands ParkLake Jackson Wilderness ParkBrazos River County ParkBrazos Bend SPManor and Eagle Nest LakeVarner-Hogg PLantation SHPHanson Riverside County Park

map legend

More information:

  • Brazosport Convention and Visitors Council
    Email: bcvc@tgn.net
    www.tourtexas.com/brazosport/ and www.brazosport.org/index.html
    (888) 477-2505 and (409) 265-2505

112.gif UTC 112 Brazosport Nature Center and Planetarium (NCAP) Nature Trail

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

The Brazosport Area, consisting of the communities of Clute, Freeport, Jones Creek, Lake Jackson, and Oyster Creek, is situated along the Texas coast at the mouth of the Brazos River. The woodlands that border the river, in combination with the surrounding mosaic of coastal grasslands, marshes, swamps, beach, and open Gulf waters, attract an astounding variety and density of birds. The Freeport Christmas Bird Count (CBC), conducted in late December, has frequently led the nation in the number of species seen. The Migration Celebration, held every year in spring, offers an opportunity to visit this remarkable area with the guidance and able assistance of local experts. Contact the Brazosport Convention and Visitors Council for information about this annual festival.

From the intersection of FM 523 and TX 332, travel west on TX 332 to BUS 288. Go north on BUS 288 to College Blvd., then west on College Blvd. to Brazosport College. Enter the first (east) entrance, and park at the Brazosport Arts and Sciences Center (where the NCAP is housed). The trail, which begins across from the NCAP, traverses a river bottom woodland community that is typical of the woodlands in this area. This particular woodland is now on the banks of Oyster Creek (formerly the bed of the Brazos River). A copy of the “Trail Guide to a River Bottom Woodland” may be obtained in the nature center.

Brazosport Center for the Arts & Sciences
400 College Drive tgn.net/~snark/ncap/ncap2.html
Lake Jackson, Texas 77566
(409) 265-3376

Return to the intersection of BUS 288 and TX 332, then continue south on BUS 288 to Dow Chemical. A shell parking lot within the plant has been commandeered by a colony (about 1500 adults) of Black Skimmers (as well as Least and Gull-billed terns), and since 1968 Dow Chemical has protected this site for the benefit of the birds. Dow Chemical conducts tours of this colony during nesting season. The site (inside the plant) is viewable weekly each Wednesday on a 2:00 p.m. company bus tour of the whole plant. Reservations are required; call 409-238-2323. The bus tours start at the Dow Chemical administrative building, which is about 0.8 mile south of the intersection of TX 332 and BUS 288. In addition, Dow Chemical hosts an annual open house on a late June Saturday in which the public is bused in to the colony during the open house day. The tour starts at the levee gate (normally closed to the public) on FM 523 that is about 0.6 mile south of the TX 332/FM523 intersection. Reservations are not required; call Dow Chemical for information about the exact date of the next open house.

113.gif UTC 113 Sea Center Texas

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on TX 332 to Plantation Drive in Lake Jackson, then go south on Plantation Drive to Sea Center Texas. TPWD, Dow North America, and the Gulf Coast Conservation Association have developed this marine education center and aquarium. The fish hatchery at this location has the capacity to produce 20 million fingerlings annually, primarily red drum and spotted seatrout, for release into Texas coastal waters. Although the focus of Sea Center Texas is upon the marine ecosystem, two wetlands (a 3.78-acre freshwater marsh, and a 1.31-acre saltwater marsh) have been created that are attractive to waterbirds. The complex includes a boardwalk, indoor aquaria and an outdoor interpretive building.

Sea Center Texas
300 Medical Drive
Lake Jackson, TX 77566
(409) 292-0100

114.gif UTC 114 Dow Centennial Bottomlands Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on TX 332 to Oak Drive, then go south on Oak Drive to MacLean Park and the entrance to Dow Centennial Bottomlands Park. Dow Chemical donated this 240-acre tract to Lake Jackson to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary. The sanctuary, with its extensive bottomland forests, is dedicated as a nature sanctuary. The bottomland forests along the Brazos River (known as the Columbia Bottomlands) are one of the most important migratory vectors for landbirds in the United States. Millions of migrants pass through these woodlands each spring as they complete their trans-Gulf migratory journeys, although birders may detect only a miniscule ripple of this avian tidal wave.

115.gif UTC 115 Lake Jackson Wilderness Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on TX 332 to Lake Jackson Wilderness Park (approximately 1.5 miles west of Oak Drive). An unpaved road penetrates the dense thickets and allows entry into this fascinating bottomland forest. Wood Ducks are often seen feeding on duckweed in the stagnant pools. These evergreen bottomlands remain lush throughout the winter (it rarely freezes here), and each winter a number of neotropical migrants, birds that otherwise would have continued to the tropical forests of Central and South America, stay on in these insect-rich woods.

116.gif UTC 116 Brazos River County Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Go west on TX 332 to TX 521, then continue north on TX 521 to TX 35. Continue north on TX 521 to CR 30 (approximately 5 miles north of TX 35), then go west on CR 30 to Planter’s Point. Enter Planter’s Point, and follow Colony Lane to Brazos River County Park. The ponds along Colony Lane attract numbers of Wood Ducks (these ponds are often covered in duckweed), and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons usually hunt for frogs and snakes along the shoreline. Enter the park, and walk the boardwalk along the river. Mississippi Kites nest around this park, so keep watching the treetops during the summer. Early mornings here are often punctuated with the staccato calls of Pileated Woodpeckers.

117.gif UTC 117 Brazos Bend SP

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

Return to FM 521, and continue north to FM 1462. Go west on FM 1462 to TX 762, then north on TX 762 to PR 72 and Brazos Bend SP. Brazos Bend SP is located approximately 28 miles south of Houston in Fort Bend County. The park covers 4,897 acres, with an eastern boundary of 3.2 miles fronting on the Brazos River. Although dominated by the Brazos River floodplain, Brazos Bend is a hodge-podge of coastal prairies, swales, oxbow lakes, freshwater marshes, and dense riparian woodlands. Big Creek cuts diagonally across the park, and Elm, Pilant, and 40-Acre lakes offer extensive open-water habitat. From the parking area at Elm Lake (look for Vermilion Flycatcher in winter in the rattlebean thickets along the shore), hike to the observation platform located between Pilant and 40-Acre lakes. Purple Gallinules and Least Bitterns nest in the marshes here, and Prothonotary Warblers breed in the willows along the levee. Few dusks pass without a raucous chorus of Barred Owls shattering the evening’s quiet.

Brazos Bend State Park
21901 FM 762
Needville, TX 77461
(409) 553-5101

Leaving Brazos Bend SP, continue north on TX 762 to Davis Estates Road (approximately 2.1 miles from PR 72). This road, much of it unpaved, is favored by local birders for its tendency to lure unusual species. Golden Eagles and Tundra Swans have occurred here in the past, and Wood Storks are often seen in the shallow ponds that border the road.

118.gif UTC 118 Manor and Eagle Nest Lake

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Return to FM 1462, and continue east 0.8 mile to Cow Creek Road. Travel south on Cow Creek Road (becoming CR 25 at the county line) to Manor and Eagle Nest lakes. This pleasant route carries you through miles of grazing lands that often contain Sandhill Cranes in the winter. Crested Caracaras are occasionally seen in the fields along CR 25, and Ferruginous Hawks have been reported from this area in the past. Of the two lakes, Manor Lake is the most interesting to birders. The extensive marshes here draw an impressive diversity of waterbirds including Least Bitterns, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Purple Gallinules, and Common Moorhens. Listen for the gurgling songs of Marsh Wrens in late spring and summer. Bald Eagles nest in the area, and often drift over these lakes in search of dead fish.

Departing Manor Lake, check CR 27 to the east. Eastern Bluebirds are often seen in the pecan woodlands along this gravel road, and Pileated Woodpeckers are unusually common near the river.

119.gif UTC 119 Varner-Hogg Plantation SHP

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

Continue south on CR 25 to TX 35, then go west on TX 35 to FM 2852. Travel north on FM 2852 to Varner-Hogg Plantation SHP. Chiefly managed as a historical site, this state park offers limited birding opportunities. However, the park supports a healthy population of Eastern Bluebirds, and the woodlands here should be inspected in spring for migrants.

120.gif UTC 120 Hanson Riverside County Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on TX 35 through West Columbia to Hanson Riverside County Park. Check the woodlands in spring for migrants and eastern woodland birds.

Return east on TX 35 to TX 36, then proceed south to the intersection of TX 36 and FM 1495 in Quintana.


Back to Top
Back to Top