Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Galveston Loop

Galveston Loop map

Galveston Loop mapThe Corps Woods at GalvestonBig Reef & Appfel ParkKempner ParkHarborside Wetlands of GalvestonOffatt Bayou8 Mile Road and Sportsman's RoadSettegast (Knottingham Ranch) RoadLafitte's CoveLafitte's GroveGalveston Island SPSan Luis Pass

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More information:

  • Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau
    (888) 425-4753, (800) 351-4236 and (409) 763-4311
    Email: cvb@phoenix.net
    www.galvestontourism.com

UTC 061 The Corps Woods at Galveston

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

Enhancements: Fencing and trail improvements

After exiting the ferry on the Galveston side of the bay, continue south on TX 87 to TX 168 (0.6 mile). Go north on TX 168 to the Corps Woods at Galveston. This woodlot is being improved as a birding destination with GTCBT funds including a nature trail, parking area, and observation platform.

UTC 062 Big Reef and Appfel Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Return to TX 87 (Ferry Road), and continue south to Seawall Blvd. Travel northeast on Seawall Blvd. to the dead-end at the east end of Galveston Island. Turn east to reach Big Reef and Appfel Park (also known as East Beach). Big Reef, an extensive sand spit isolated by the entrance to Galveston Bay, may be reached by crossing a small bridge located on the east side of the entrance road. Thousands of shorebirds, gulls, and terns roost on this bar. Continue east on the entrance road to Appfel Park (there is a fee to park here), and scope the Gulf near the South Jetty for seabirds.

UTC 063 Kempner Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

Return to Seawall Blvd., and continue southwest to Broadway. Go west on Broadway to 27th Street, then south on 27th Street to Avenue O. Turn west on Avenue O to reach Kempner Park. When the weather conditions are right in spring, migrant landbirds often sweep through these oaks. American Robins have nested here, and White-winged Doves are common in the surrounding neighborhood.

UTC 064 Harborside Wetlands of Galveston

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

From Kempner Park, go north on 29th Street to Broadway. Go west on Broadway to 51st Street, then north on 51st Street to Harborside Wetlands of Galveston. The City of Galveston is transforming this marsh into a birding destination, and the site will have parking facilities and a nature trail when completed.

UTC 065 Offatt Bayou

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Spring

Site open for day use only.

Return to Broadway; continue west to 61st Street (Spur 342). Go south on 61st Street to Offatt Bayou. Offatt Bayou may be viewed from the parking areas on the west side of 61st Street. Loons, grebes, and diving ducks often crowd into this bayou in winter. Look for Common and Pacific loons (rare), Eared Grebes, and Red-breasted Mergansers from late winter through late spring.

UTC 066 8-Mile-Road and Sportsmen’s Road

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Continue south on 61st Street to Stewart Road; travel west on Stewart Road to 81st Street. Moody Gardens (butterfly gardens, IMAX theatre) may be reached off of 81st Street. The parking lot at Moody Gardens offers another excellent view of Offatt Bayou, so continue your search for loons and grebes from here. Continue west on Stewart Road to 8-Mile-Road. Inspect the ponds along Stewart Road just west of this corner for waterfowl and shorebirds. Go north on 8-Mile-Road to its end at West Galveston Bay and Sportsmen’s Road. Inspect the fields along 8-Mile-Road in spring for American Golden-Plovers and Upland Sandpipers. Go west on Sportmen’s Road until it ends. The marshes along Sportsmen’s Road extend to the edge of the pavement, and waterbirds (White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Clapper Rail) may wander to within a few feet of your vehicle. Check West Galveston Bay for Common Loons, Common Goldeneyes, and American Oystercatchers on the shell reefs. You can view North Deer Island from the end of 8-Mile-Road. The National and Houston Audubon Societies jointly own this island. North Deer Island supports one of the most significant colonial waterbird rookeries along the upper Texas coast.

UTC 067 Settegast (Nottingham Ranch) Road

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on Stewart Road to Settegast Road (also known as Nottingham Ranch Road). The grassy fields along Settegast Road draw American Golden-Plovers, Whimbrels, Long-billed Curlews, and Upland Sandpipers during spring migration.

UTC 068 Lafitte’s Cove

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on Stewart Road to Lafitte’s Cove. To enter Lafitte’s Cove, turn off of Stewart Road onto Eckert Drive at the entrance to the Lafitte’s Cove subdivision and drive 0.2 mile to the parking area at the beginning of the nature trail. This grove is a magnet for migrant landbirds, and, with the right weather conditions, can rival High Island.

UTC 069 Lafitte’s Grove (Nearby)

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on Stewart Road to Lafitte’s Grove (about 0.1 mile west of the entrance to Lafitte’s Cove). Park on the pavement near the historical marker. The oaks here are also attractive to migrant landbirds. Be aware that fall migrants often linger along the immediate coast through Christmas. These small oak mottes, bordering ponds, should be checked throughout the fall and early winter months.

UTC 070 Galveston Island SP

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

Continue west on Stewart Road to its merger with 13-Mile-Road and the intersection with FM 3005. Continue west on FM 3005 to PR 66 and Galveston Island SP. This park extends from the beach to the bay. The bay section of the park offers the most birding opportunities, as well as the fewest visitors. Upon entering the park off of FM 3005, check the willow groves that border the park road. Turn west at your first opportunity, and park near the observation tower. This nature trail is worth walking, and the trees across the road should be checked for migrants. The marshes that border the bay abound with ibis, herons, egrets, gulls, and terns. White-tailed Kites and Northern Harriers have nested in the park, and Black Rails often call in the dead of night. A wait until sunset will be rewarded with the sight of Barn Owls beginning their grassland patrols.

UTC 071 San Luis Pass

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on FM 3005 to the west end of Galveston Island and San Luis Pass. You may access the flats by exiting FM 3005 immediately before the toll bridge. THE SAND HERE CAN BE EXTREMELY SOFT, SO PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN DRIVING ON THE FLATS.Only Bolivar Flats can rival the wildlife spectacle that is San Luis Pass. Countless waterbirds pack the sand flats that extend into the bay. Both species of pelican, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Bonaparte’s Gulls feed in the swift waters that course through the pass in winter, and staggering numbers of shorebirds may feed on the flats during a tidal shift. Horned Larks and Wilson’s Plovers nest in the dunes. Snowy and Piping plovers winter commonly. Least Terns and Black Skimmers often attempt to nest on the driest sand (please, avoid disturbing the birds during nesting season). Over 25,000 Black Terns stage here in late summer (August through early September), and Magnificent Frigatebirds roost on the pilings in West Bay from late April through late September.


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