Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Caliche Loop

Caliche Loop map

Caliche loop mapFort ChadbourneRed CanyonLake Spence-Humble CrossingFern Havins ParkDripping Springs GrottoWalnut Creek Ranch

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More information:

  • Bronte COC, 915-473-6451, www.brontetxs.com
  • Robert Lee EDC, robertleetx.com
  • Abilene CVB, 800-727-7704, www.abilene.com/visitors
  • San Angelo COC, 915-655-4136, 800-375-1206, www.sanangelo-tx.com

010.gif PHP 010 Fort Chadbourne

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead.

Fort Chadbourne sits on 10,000 acres of private ranchland. This historic fort was officially open from 1852-1867. In 1876, Thomas L. Odom and his son, Garland, drove cattle into the fort, establishing the O-D Ranch. Today, Thomas’s great-great-great grandson, Garland Richards, continues to operate the working ranch, and has preserved, stabilized, and restored the ruins to their original structure.

White-tailed Deer forage throughout the property. Bobcat, Red and Common Gray Foxes, Coyote, Porcupine, and Ringtail are found here, as well as Thirteen-lined Ground, Fox, and Rock Squirrels. Watch for Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Western Coachwhip, Bullsnake, and Hognose Snake. Texas Horned Lizard, Texas Spotted Whiptail, and Eastern Collared Lizard also occur here.

Oak Creek Lake provides habitat for Great Blue Herons, and in the winter, for a variety of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Sparrows abound in winter. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Lark Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern and Western Meadowlarks, and Cooper’s Hawk are common breeders, easily seen in the summer. Also look for Bullock’s Oriole, Painted Bunting, and Dickcissel. Both Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail occur here.

915-743-2555, www.fortchadbourne.org, Call for directions.

011.gif PHP 011 Red Canyon

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer

Site access restricted. Call ahead.

At the intersection of US 277 and TX 158 in Bronte, go east on TX 158 for
11.1 miles. Turn left on Scott’s Lane and follow the road away from the cemetery 0.3 mile to Landfill Road. Turn right, and after 0.1 mile you can enter the gate
that leads to the pond.

This pond consists of open scrub habitat conducive to Blue Grosbeak, Cactus Wren, Wild Turkey, and raptors such as Red-tailed Hawk. Return to TX 158 West for a few yards and turn right on the dirt road that leads to the edge of Mt. Creek Reservoir. The reservoir attracts a variety of swallows and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, with Bufflehead and other waterfowl in winter.

915-453-2495, Phone for access.

012.gif PHP 012 Lake Spence-Humble Crossing

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Winter

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

Continue on TX 158 to Robert Lee, take TX 208 North 8.4 miles to the signed turn for Lake Spence, turn left and go 4.0 miles to the entrance. Veer off to the right at the public toilets for riverfront access.

This multi-use park has boating, fishing, and picnic facilities, as well as riparian areas on the Colorado River that attract wintering Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, and Osprey. Greater Roadrunner, Northern Bobwhite, Rattlesnakes, Jackrabbits, and Deer are abundant here. Monarch Butterfly migration in October brings large numbers of these colorful insects through the park, where they nectar on large milkweed plants.

915-453-2061

013.gif PHP 013 Fern Havins Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

Return to Robert Lee and turn right on TX 158 West to 4th Street. Turn right/west and go straight to the end of the road.

This multi-use park on the Colorado River provides good habitat for butterflies, dragonflies, as well as birds such as Pied-billed Grebe, Scissor-tailed Fly-catcher, Belted Kingfisher, and Great Blue Heron.

014.gif PHP 014 Dripping Springs Grotto

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer

Site open for day use only.

Continue on TX 158 for 8.7 miles to the town of Edith in Coke County. Continue on TX 158 West for about 0.3 mile to Dripping Springs Road. Turn right/north, follow the road to the left, go about 200 yards to the low water crossing, and park on the right. The grotto is over the edge. Observe only from the roadside.

This is one of the best birding venues in the region, and a tremendously picturesque grotto, with steep canyon walls and beautiful bluffs. It stays wet even in the driest conditions, and provides lush habitat for turtles, aquatic insects, and an excellent variety of birds. Brown Thrasher, Verdin, Canyon Wren, Bewick’s Wren, and Cactus Wren have all been seen here, as have Nashville Warbler, McGillivray’s Warbler, and Black-and-white Warbler during migration. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers abound in summer, and the acacia, mesquite, willow, and oak woodlands provide dense cover farther up the creek.

015.gif PHP 015 Walnut Creek Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

This ranch sits along Walnut Creek where the Hill Country and Rolling Plains landscapes of Texas merge. Over 10,000 acres of varied habitat makes this an excellent site for wildlife enthusiasts, as well as historians and archaeologists. Prehistoric burial sites are visible from most hillsides. Flint chips, arrowheads, and handmade Indian tools litter the land. This ranch offers evidence of human occupation for over 12,000 years.

Mixed riparian woodlands, canyons, and limestone ledges in grassland scrub and mesquite savannahs constitute the outlying areas of the ranch. Habitats on the ranch support a wide variety of birds, such as Black-capped and Bell’s Vireos, Scott’s and Bullock’s Orioles, Vermilion Flycatcher, Canyon and Cactus Wrens, Canyon Towhee, Greater Roadrunner, Northern Bobwhite, Scaled Quail, Wild Turkey, and Painted Bunting. Look for Black Phoebe along the creek. Mountain, Eastern, and Western Bluebirds are common. In addition to the many wintering sparrows and woodpeckers, Walnut Creek Ranch is a wintering home to Bald Eagle and occasionally Golden Eagle. White-tailed Deer are abundant, and visitors may also see Javelina and Bobcat. Reptiles on the ranch include Texas Horned Lizard and Texas Spiny Lizard.

The ponds and creeks are home to a variety of amphibians and aquatic insects. Look for Blanchard’s Cricket and Plains Leopard Frogs, and Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad. Dragonflies and damselflies are plentiful. Common Whitetail, Roseate Skimmer, Flame Skimmer, Red and Black saddlebags, Blue-ringed Dancer, and Familiar Bluet all occur here.

877-690-6400, www.walnutcreekranch.com, Call for directions.


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