Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Rio Frio Loop

Rio Frio Loop map

 

Rio Frio loop mapSunset Bat FlightNeal’s LodgesRiver Oaks Nature TrailFrio CountryFrio River CabinsGarner State ParkClearwater RanchBluebird Hill B&BUtopia on the River

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More information:

  • Uvalde COC, 830-278-3361, www.uvalde.org
  • Texas Hill Country River Region, 830-591-1074, 800-210-0380, www.thcrr.com

028.gif HOTW 028 Sunset Bat Flight

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

View one of the largest populations of Mexican Free-tailed Bats as they make their ascent into the evening sky. Hike to the top of the hill to witness one of nature’s most incredible spectacles. Check the sky for Merlin, Zone-tailed Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, and Red-tailed Hawk, which hover just behind the crest of the hill and snatch the exiting bats. Around the cave you will see Cave Swallow, Canyon Wren, and Rock Wren. The 11,000-acre private ranch within which the bat cave is located provides excellent habitat for birds and other wildlife. Hill Country Adventures offers various tours on the ranch.

Hill Country Adventures, 830-966-2320, www.hillcountryadventures.com

Call for directions.

029.gif HOTW 029 Neal’s Lodges

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

From US 83/90 junction in Uvalde, go north on US 83 for 22.9 miles to TX 127 South. Go 0.5 mile to office on left.

A favorite place for birders in central Texas for decades, Neal’s Lodges is known for its diversity of habitats and viewing opportunities. Birds typical of east, west, and south Texas may all be found within a few minutes’ walk from the cabins. In drier, shrub habitat you can see birds like Bell’s Vireo, whereas Yellow-throated Vireos sing from the giant cypresses that border the Frio River, and White-eyed Vireos sing from various habitats. Typically, at least three pairs of Black-capped Vireos nest in dense vegetation around the cabins and up the hill. Carolina Wrens of the east sing beside Canyon Wrens of the west, and Eastern Phoebes nest along with Vermilion Flycatchers. Rio Grande Valley birds such as Long-billed Thrasher and Olive Sparrow can also be found here. Painted Bunting breeds on the site, and Golden-cheeked Warbler is often heard in the taller trees on the eastern side of the Frio. Black Phoebe and Green Kingfisher are regulars on the river banks, as are Yellow-throated Warblers. Birds seen or heard at night include Eastern Screech Owl, and in summer, Common Poorwill and Chuck-will’s-widow.

830-232-6118, www.nealslodges.com

030.gif HOTW 030 River Oaks Nature Trail

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site open for day use only.

Return on TX 127 and make an immediate right just before US 83 onto CR 348. Go 0.6 mile to entrance on left.

Old-growth juniper and oak woodland comprise this network of trails. Beginning in late March, look for Golden-cheeked Warbler. Hutton’s Vireo has been seen here as well, and is distinguished from the superficially similar Ruby-crowned Kinglet by the larger, thicker bill, the propensity to move sluggishly through the canopy as opposed to the Kinglet’s twig-hopping. Sparrows, Bushtits, White-eyed Vireo, Bewick’s Wren, and a number of Hummingbirds can be seen along the trail and at the feeders in front of the River Oaks main office.

830-232-6106

031.gif HOTW 031 Frio Country

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

Continue on CR 348 to the Frio Country Store. Offices are on the left after 1.1 miles.

Frio Country covers more than 800 acres of Hill Country habitat, including river frontage along the Frio, dense juniper/oak woodland that stretches back to the hills that form part of the river’s watershed, and open grassy areas. Much of this area is unexplored by birders and nature tourists, and you can expect to find all of the birds here that the Hill Country is known for. Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo, Verdin, Curve-billed Thrasher, and Painted Bunting all nest here. Deer, Turkey, and Collared Peccary (Javelina) are common on the property. Activities offered include hiking and horseback riding.

830-232-6625, 888-926-6226, www.friocountry.com

032.gif HOTW 032 Frio River Cabins

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

Return to the intersection of TX 127 and US 83. Go north/right on US 83 for 9.8 miles to entrance on right.

This 132-acre site along the Frio River provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including Golden-cheeked Warblers. Spanish oak, post oak, red oak, persimmon, and elm dot the land. Ten acres of dense hardwood brush, two ponds, and a spring provide good habitats for viewing birds and other wildlife. Green Kingfisher, Belted Kingfisher, and Black Phoebe are commonly found on the small island in the middle of the river. Thistles are filled with Red Admirals in summer, and the bluffs along Buffalo Creek support Black-capped Vireos. Indian mounds on the property provide an interesting resource for those interested in archaeology, and arrowhead finds are common.

830-232-5996, www.friorivercabins.com

033.gif HOTW 033 Garner State Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open daily. Fee charged.

Return to US 83, go south 1.5 miles to FM 1050. Go east on FM 1050 and turn right on PR 29 after 0.2 mile. Proceed 0.3 mile to the office.

One of the most popular state parks in Texas, Garner has an abundance of wildlife, including White-tailed and Axis Deer, Rio Grande Turkey, Morning Dove, Eastern Bluebirds, Rock Squirrels, Fox Squirrels, and Raccoons. The park offers birders such riverside birds as Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Acadian Flycatcher in pockets of moist, shady woods along the river. In the steeper sections of the park, Golden-cheeked Warbler is still relatively common. Listen for their buzzy song as you walk the hilly trails throughout the park. In open areas of the park watch for flycatchers, sparrows, and during migration look for flocks of Clay-colored Sparrows as they move through the Hill Country on their way north. The chilly, spring-fed Frio River provides one of the state’s very finest venues for swimming and river floating. The park offers campsites, screened shelters, cabins, and a full range of activities.

830-232-6132, Garner SP

034.gif HOTW 034 Clearwater Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

The large cypress trees and emergent vegetation along the Frio River provide habitat for ducks and fish. In another part of the 400-acre ranch, Hidden Pond provides a home for turtles and wintering waterfowl. Clearwater Mountain dominates the property, and the ranch road leads to a series of deer paths that will take you to the peak. The view here at dawn or at sunset is as good as any you’ll get in the Hill Country. Butterflies swarm the hilltop in late spring and summer. This is a great place to tube the river, and cabins are available for overnight guests.

830-232-6686, www.frio.net, Call for directions.

035.gif HOTW 035 Bluebird Hill B&B

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

The area around the B&B house has been developed for wildlife, and includes plantings that are attractive to birds and butterflies. A nature guide is available for guided walks on the 280 acres of open areas and juniper/oak woodlands that ascend the hill behind the property, and a box canyon that provides habitat for Black-capped Vireos. Numerous bluebird nest boxes are scattered around the property, resulting in a bluebird trail. Ground blinds are available for wildlife viewing and photography. Accommodations include a country Bed and Breakfast or an 1800-style secluded cabin.

830-966-2320, www.friolodging.com, Call for directions.

036.gif HOTW 036 Utopia on the River

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Winter

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

From the intersection of FM 1050 and FM 187 in Utopia, go south on FM 187 for 1.9 miles. Entrance is on right.

The Sabinal River cuts through the middle of this site, with water so clear you can see the turtles well after they’ve leaped from the banks into the crystalline water. Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe, and the usual riverside birds can be seen here. The cypresses that line the Sabinal (“place of the cypress trees”) River are some of the largest in Texas. B&B lodging is available.

830-966-2444, www.utopiaontheriver.com


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