Stephen F. Austin Loop
Stephen F. Austin Loop map
- Lufkin/Angelina County COC
(936) 634-6644, lufkintexas.org
- City of Nacogdoches
- Nacogdoches CVB
Site open for day use only.
From Hwy 59 Business in Nacogdoches, turn east onto Austin. Go two blocks and at the intersection of Austin and Raguet (a 4-way stop), turn south on Raguet. The Pineywoods Native Plant Center is located on the east side of the street, just north of the Raguet Elementary School. Parking is available along the gravel drive.
These lovely gardens are a wonderful place for wildlife viewing. The Lady Bird Johnson Demonstration Gardens are a unique collection of native East Texas plants that are especially useful for yards, gardens, and public spaces. The plants are displayed in a tiered fashion, representing three plant communities; dry uplands, mesic slopes, and streamside habitat. Checklists of plants and birds are available on the Center’s web site.
Whether you admire plants for their beauty or appreciate the variety of adaptations to specific environments, these gardens are a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Portions of the gardens consist of mature hardwoods and pines in a park-like setting, while other portions are maintained in brushy thickets. There are a number of short trails located throughout the property. The Center contains hundreds of species from families of Conifers, Ferns and Fern-Allies, and Flowering Plants.
A main trail takes visitors through Tucker Woods to join the LaNana Creek Trail. Look for resident birds such as the Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Tufted Titmouse or listen for the calls of summer residents such as the Summer Tanager and Red-eyed Vireo. Over 105 species of birds have been spotted in Tucker Woods and around the Center. During spring and fall migration, the trees and shrubs are alive with colorful songbirds. While the fall migration brings less color in birds, it is a great time to check out the colors of fall foliage. During winter, look for mixed-flocks of birds in the tree canopy. Be sure to stop along the wooden boardwalk to admire the bald cypress, American elder, willow, buttonbush, smartweed, and ash. Several snags and woody debris along the trail provide excellent places to look and listen for woodpeckers. The trail joins the LaNana Creek Trail, where visitors can hike another 2.5 miles along the creek.
Phone: (936) 468-4104, pnpc.sfasu.edu
Site open for day use only.
From Hwy 59 Business in Nacogdoches, the Arboretum can be reached by taking Starr or College Avenue east off of Hwy 59/ North Street and turning onto Wilson drive. The Arboretum is next to the SFASU Intramural Fields.
Located on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University, the Arboretum features a spectacular array of over 3,000 plant species and 20 theme gardens. Informational signs are located throughout the gardens and most plants are labeled with their common and scientific names.
Visitors can enjoy azaleas, camellias, maples, hydrangea and a number of rare ornamental trees and shrubs in the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden. Dwarf burford holly serves as a backdrop for the Texas-tough perennials which produce a seasonal sequence of visual impacts. The Perennial Border near the facility parking area is alive with a rainbow of colors and is an excellent place to watch for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds along with various butterflies, bees, and other insects.
There are Herb and Fern Gardens, Conifer and Holly Gardens, a Pitcher Plant Bog, Butterfly Garden, Asian Valley, Bee Hive Exhibit, Daylily Garden, Heritage Garden, and Lines of Vines. There is also a Children’s Garden and outdoor education pavilion. The grounds are decorated with various statues, artwork, benches, trellises, pagodas, greenhouses, and fences. The Arboretum attracts a variety of migratory and resident birds, including Warblers, Carolina Wrens, Cardinals, Mockingbirds, Mourning Doves, Swallows, Carolina Chickadees, Sparrows, Woodpeckers, Finches, and Orioles.
Phone: (936) 468-3705, arboretum.sfasu.edu
Site open for day use only.
The Lanana Creek Trail starts at 805 E. Main (TX 21 & Hwy 7) behind Liberty Hall and just off the east side of Loop 224.
This 3.5-mile trail starts at the soccer complex across from Liberty Hall and continues north through a variety of habitats and past the Eyes of Father Margil, Oak Grove and Zion Hill Cemeteries, New Orleans Greys’ Campground, Pecan Park, SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center and Tucker Woods, and ending at the Jimmy Hinds Park. Pecan Park, a vast spread of pecan trees located near the university campus, has restrooms, water fountains, and a playground.
A pond bordering the trail provides habitat for frogs and other aquatic species. Bald cypress, sycamore, willow, arrowhead, ash, and lilies are some of the plants that comprise the wetland vegetation. The rich, moist soils along Lanana Creek support a diversity of trees such as dogwood, black walnut, pecan, and water oak. Look for the massive water oaks along the creek banks. Look and listen for the characteristic call and plumage of the Louisiana Waterthrush bobbing along the stream edge. The density of trees varies along the trail, as does the amount of understory vegetation, providing ample opportunities for viewing a whole host of wildlife species.
Spring migration brings colorful warblers and orioles, who adorn the trees with brightly colored plumage and musical songs. Some of these birds nest during the summer or live year round along the creek.
Phone: (936) 559-2960, www.ci.nacogdoches.tx.us
Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.
From Loop 224 heading west/ south in Nacogdoches, travel west to the Hwy 7/ Crockett Exit. Go west on Hwy 7 for 6.4 miles to FM 2782. Turn right onto FM 2782 and go 2.0 miles to Stag Leap Retreat.
Relax and enjoy southern hospitality as you explore this 200-acre retreat. Numerous trails throughout the property provide plenty of opportunities to hike and bike. Forested habitats include hickories, eastern redcedar, pine, water oak, sweetgum, post oak, American holly, winged elm, sassafras, dogwood, American beauty-berry, Virginia creeper, red buckeye, coral bean, American elder, and black walnut. Listen as Carolina Wrens and White-eyed Vireos call from the trees, while Vultures and Chimney Swifts soar overhead.
Bonaldo Creek runs through the property providing a peaceful atmosphere and great habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies, and amphibians. Look for the Pileated Woodpecker’s red flare or listen for its calls and loud drumming in the woody vegetation. Pileated and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-eyed Vireos, and Tufted Titmice are just a few of the common birds that may be observed. Listen for the call of the Red-tailed Hawk or the Wood Thrush ringing through the trees. Evening hikers may be greeted by owls, flying squirrels, and other nocturnal land mammals.
Stag Leap offers five private Bed and Breakfast cabins, each one uniquely furnished and surrounded by wildlife habitat. Several of the cabins have large decks that overlook the creek and surrounding forest. Hummingbird and seed feeders and flowering plants are located around the cabins. The views from the cabins provide wonderful opportunities for enjoying nature. The owners also offer golf carts, archery, horseshoes, volleyball, and basketball to their guests.
Phone: (936) 560-0766, www.stagleap.com
Site access restricted. Call ahead.
From the intersection of Loop 224 and Hwy 7 West in Nacogdoches, travel 6.4 miles on Hwy 7 West. Turn north on FM 2782 and go 0.7 miles. Turn west on CR 724 and travel 1.0 mile. Turn south into the Fair Breeze entrance.
The 46-acre property offers a series of trails and scenic vistas which lead visitors through upland pastures and into bottomland hardwoods along Bonaldo Creek. Pasture plants include Paspalum, broomsedge, bluestem, and wildflowers such as bee balm, black-eyed Susans, yellow and white asters, and mist flower. Follow the small wooden bridge over the creek and into the forest. The brushy habitat near the bridge crossing is a great place to watch and listen for birds. Carolina Wrens, White-eyed Vireos, Indigo Buntings, and Eastern Phoebes vocalize from nearby territories. River birch, buttonbush, sweetgum, oaks, hickories, American hornbeam, lizard’s tail, and a variety of rushes and sedges can be found along the creek bottoms. As you move to the interior the forest, the trail meanders along the crystal flowing waters of sandy creek banks tinted brown from decaying leaves. A narrow band of herbaceous growth located along a pipeline right-of-way near the bridge crossing is a great place to watch for edge species. Blackberry, box elder and persimmon saplings, goldenrod, and Japanese honeysuckle are some of the dominant plants here.
Fair Breeze offers a private bed and breakfast cabin located on a bluff bordering Bonaldo Creek. The view from the cabin is idyllic with views of pastures and bottomland hardwoods all visible from the front porch. Black walnut trees surround the cabin and bird feeders and flowering plants have been placed to attract wildlife.
Phone: (936) 559-1125, www.fairbreezecabin.com
Site open for day use only.
The trails are located at the SFA Experimental Forest in southern Nacogdoches County on the north side of the Angelina River. From the intersection of Hwy 7 and FM 2782 just southwest of Nacogdoches, turn south on FM 2782 and proceed 2.3 miles to entrance of SFA Experimental Forest. Proceed past entrance gate approximately 0.25 miles and then follow the signs to the trail parking lot. / From Lufkin, go north on Hwy 59 to FM 2782. Turn left and proceed 2.5 miles to the SFA Experimental Forest entrance.
This 2,560-acre experimental forest consists primarily of mature bottomland hardwood habitat (1,600 acres, seasonally flooded) and mature upland hardwood-pine and pine habitats. Forest diversity includes 30 species of mammals, more than 150 species of resident and migratory birds, and over 80 species of butterflies.
Two loops comprise 3.0 miles of nature trails with a viewing blind. The Jack Creek Loop is a 0.8-mile, paved interpretive trail with a variable grade along Jack Creek. Flowing water adds to the tranquility of the forest and provides another habitat for visitors to explore. Notice the ferns, basket grass, and mayapples growing on the forest floor.
The Management Loop, which serves as a demonstration site for forest and wildlife management practices, winds through five different management units of the forest. Signs along the trail correspond with a brochure available near the parking area. Features along the trail include areas cleared for the control of Southern Pine Beetles, prescribed burning, uneven-aged management, longleaf pine restoration, nest boxes, thinning, group selection, and a streamside management zone.
Interpretative signs give both the casual observer and the well-studied nature enthusiast insights into the forest vegetation. Notable plants include fringe tree, Carolina buckthorn, Carolina basswood, cherrybark oak, spice bush, swamp chestnut oak as well as short-leaf pine, loblolly pine, sweetgum, mockernut hickory, sassafras, and flowering dogwood. Birds such as Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, and Tufted Titmouse are sure to make their presence known. Summer Tanagers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos, White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Barred Owls, Screech Owls, Prothonotary Warblers, and Northern Parula Warblers are also often heard and seen.
Numerous benches, conveniently located along the trails, provide visitors a place to rest, watch wildlife, or just enjoy the surrounding beauty.
Phone: (936) 569-7981, www.srs.fs.usda.gov/wildlife/trail.htm
Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.
From Nacogdoches, travel 7.0 miles south on Hwy 59 to FM 2782. Go west 2.0 miles on FM 2782 to the entrance.
This 2,063-acre WMA located in southern Nacogdoches County was purchased in 1991 to preserve mature bottomland hardwood forests adjacent to the Angelina River. In addition to the Angelina River, other significant drainages include Loco Bayou and Moral Creek. The bottomland forest typically begins to flood during mid winter as the river and bayous overbank, with inundation continuing through early spring. For great wildlife viewing, visit the viewing deck at the end of the road on the west side overlooking the wetland cells. Interpretive panels discussing bottomland hardwood forests, wetland habitat management, and birding opportunities are also found on the viewing deck.
Look for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, sparrows, Loggerhead Shrikes, Dickcissels, and Blue Grosbeaks in open grassland along the road. In wetland areas, look for Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, White Ibis, and Great Blue Herons as well as camouflaged American Bittern. Indigo Buntings sing from arboreal perches while turtles bask on logs. Wood Duck boxes are mounted throughout the wetlands.
The middle road winds through additional upland and wetland habitats before ending at the parking area. From here, three woods roads provide additional access to various habitats. Plants along the trails include red oak, red maple, water oak, sweetgum, sugarberry, American hornbeam, and eastern gamma grass. Look for birds such as Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Green Heron, Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Yellowthroat, White-tailed Kite, Painted Bunting, Wood Stork, and LeConte’s Sparrow. White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkey, Feral Hogs, squirrels, and rabbits can also be seen along the trails.
Phone: (936) 639-1879, Alazan Bayou WMA
Site open for day use only.
From Nacogdoches, take FM 1275 South from Loop 224 for 6.3 miles to CR 538. Turn right on CR 538 for 0.4 miles then left on CR 539. CR 539 is Saint’s Rest Road, continuing 3.0 miles until its dead end at Angelina River. The site is restricted to viewing from the county road right-of-way.
Follow Doors Creek and drive down to the banks of the Angelina River to view the various habitat types and unique wildlife species along Saint’s Rest Road. Parking is limited to the county road right-of-way but because the road is a dead-end, traffic is light. As you drive down the road, the habitat changes from pine forest to riparian bottomland hardwoods, then to the floodplain of the Angelina River. Look for Louisiana Waterthrush, Solitary Vireo, Rusty Blackbird, Purple Finch, and Kentucky, Yellow-throated, Prothonotary and Swainson’s Warblers. Watch the beaver pond area for Belted Kingfisher and various wading birds.
Look for Question Mark, Viceroy, and Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies along the moist edges of the roadway and the riverbank. Dragonflies frequenting the area include Little Blue Dragonlet, Eastern Amberwing, Blue Dasher and Wandering Glider.
Phone: (936) 564-7351.
Site open for day use only.
Take Loop 287 in Lufkin to the east side of town. Exit onto Atkinson Drive/ Hwy 103 East. Turn west (into town) to the museum which is approximately 2 blocks down on the right (less than 1.0 mile). Trail is located directly behind the Museum.
Located within the city limits, this urban trail takes visitors on a refreshing journey through forest habitat. A viewing blind provides visitors a place to rest and unobtrusively view the wildlife. Feeders, bluebird and chickadee houses, and a bat box offer added viewing opportunities.
The Museum is one of the largest of its kind in the United States, offering a historic look at early logging, sawmill towns, and the development of one of the oldest industries in Texas. Visitors will find a full-sized logging locomotive, loader, and caboose; a forest lookout tower; early equipment used to haul logs and make lumber; a petrified log; and other relics.
Visitors may use the 0.12-mile paved portion of the trail or branch off onto the 0.25 miles of wood chip-lined forest trails. A new 0.33-mile Bridge Trail has also been added to the Urban Landscape, offering three bridge crossings over low-lying areas. Interpretive signs are placed along the trails to provide visitors with information about the forest. A trail brochure with descriptive information about native species is available inside the museum. You can take the time to look over this brochure while enjoying lunch at the site’s picnic facilities.
Primarily a mixed pine-hardwood forest, trees include loblolly pine, water oak, winged elm, southern red oak, white ash, cherrybark oak, Carolina laurelcherry, black hickory, and sweetgum.
Birds known to utilize the area include Chimney Swifts, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Pine Warblers, Carolina Wrens, Mourning Doves, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Summer Tanagers, Carolina Chickadees, Pileated Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, American Robins, Chipping Sparrows, and Red-tailed Hawks. Also look for Armadillos, Squirrels, Virginia Opossums, various snakes and skinks, and Box Turtles.
Phone: (936) 632-9535, www.treetexas.com