Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Canadian Breaks Loop

Canadian Breaks Loop map

Canadian Breaks loop mapLake Palo DuroLake Dryer and Wolf Creek Country ParkNorth Canadian River RoadLipscomb Dance PlatformRader RanchGene Howe Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Pat Murphy UnitCanadian River Wagon Bridge, Hemphill County Recreation Area, and Canadian Golf ClubGene Howe Wildlife Management AreaLake Marvin, Black Kettle National Grasslands Recreation AreaAnderson RanchWashita RanchArrington Ranch

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More information:

  • Spearman COC, 806-659-5555, www.spearman.org
  • Perryton COC, 806-435-6575, www.perryton.org
  • Texas Prairie Rivers Region Inc., 806-323-5397, www.texasprairierivers.com
  • Miami COC, 806-868-3291
  • Canadian COC, 806-323-6234, www.canadiantx.com
  • Texas Panhandle Tourism Marketing Council, www.texasptmc.org

051.gif PHP 051 Lake Palo Duro

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

At the intersection of TX 15 and FM 760 in Spearman, go north on FM 760 for 8.2 miles until you see the sign for the Palo Duro River Authority, Lake Palo Duro South Entrance.

Besides being an excellent year round birding location, this is one of the best sites in the Panhandle to see large numbers of wintering Bald and Golden Eagles. These majestic birds may be present in the snags directly in front of the boat ramp. On the way to the lake, particularly along TX 207 North, stop to check mixed flocks of Horned Larks for the four species of Longspur found here in winter. The lake itself is habitat to thousands of Canada and Snow geese, as well as Ross’s Goose and White-fronted Goose, and numerous puddle ducks. Check the weedy margin of the lake for seed-eating birds. The tall grass around the boat launch is excellent for wintering American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and Pine Siskin. Use a spotting scope to scan the middle of the lake carefully in winter for Common Loon, which occasionally appears in the Panhandle. A scope will also be helpful for identifying the different species of goose, as they tend to stay in large flocks towards the middle of the lake. Along the entrance road you may see flocks of Mountain Bluebird that contain hundreds of birds.

On the way to and from Lake Palo Duro, as with the rest of the northern Panhandle in winter, look for Rough-legged Hawk, which is relatively abundant here.

052.gif PHP 052 Lake Dryer and Wolf Creek Country Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open daily. Developed camping available.

Return to Spearman and take FM 759 East to US 83. Go north on US 83 for 3.6 miles and turn right/east at the sign for Lake Fryer/Wolf Creek Park.

In winter American Tree Sparrow has been found here. The wooded edges of the lake are good habitat for White-breasted Nuthatch, flocks of Dark-eyed Junco, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Carolina Chickadee, and other woodland birds. The park has full facilities for picnics. Watch for Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, and a variety of puddle ducks. Snags around the lakeshore provide good habitat for woodpeckers.

053.gif PHP 053 North Canadian River Road

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

From Lake Fryer return to US 83 and go south for 23.6 miles to County Road F on the right. The scenic portion of the road continues for about 20 miles.

In winter, flocks of Mountain Bluebirds can be found along this scenic road. Bring a camera because the wildlife is often close to the roadside. Loggerhead Shrike can be seen along this road, as well as the occasional Northern Shrike that wanders into the Panhandle during hard winters. At 12 miles the road climbs into limestone mesas that are dotted with juniper. Look here for Pinyon Jay in winter, as well as for mammals such as White-tailed Deer and Pronghorn.

054.gif PHP 054 Lipscomb Dance Platform

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Summer

Site open for day use only.

At the intersection of US 83 and US 60 in Canadian, go north on US 60 for 8.1 miles to TX 305. Follow TX 305 north for 15.4 miles to Lipscomb. Go right on Spur 188 East, which leads to the courthouse.

Lipscomb has an art gallery and a dance platform where dances are regularly held during summer. It also has a year-round population of Wild Turkeys that casually stroll about the courthouse lawn. The woodland at the back of the county square is a good spot to check for migrating woodland birds, as is nearby Glen Turner Memorial Park, which also has RV sites, campsites, and picnic areas.

055.gif PHP 055 Rader Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead.

This 20,000-acre ranch has an established program for viewing Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Most of the ranch is rolling sand sagebrush habitat with 450 acres of cropland and the rest native rangeland. The sand sagebrush, patches of wild plum, and native perennial bunch grasses provide food and cover for prairie chickens. Rader Ranch provides spectacular viewing of Lesser Prairie-Chickens as well as other types of wildlife viewing, including Quail, Wild Turkey, Coyote, Pronghorn, Deer, and Sandhill Crane. Buffalo wallows in the area add to the appeal of the ranch, and stock tanks on the property provide habitat for wintering puddle ducks and in summer for dragonflies, damselflies, and amphibians.

806-354-0928, Call for Directions.

056.gif PHP 056 Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Pat Murphy Unit

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

From Lipscomb, go south on TX 305 for 3.7 miles to a gate and wooden notice board and sign on the east side of the road. Park at the gate and walk into the site.

The W.A. Pat Murphy Unit of the Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area is 889 acres, encompassing 432 acres of native short grass prairie, 368 acres of CRP grassland, and 89 acres of creek bottom. Common plant species in the short-grass prairie include sandsage brush, sand plum, buffalo grass, little bluestem, and blue grama. Dominant plants found in the creek bottom include eastern cottonwood, big bluestem, switchgrass, indiangrass, and sand plum.

Wildlife species occurring on the Murphy Unit, including Bobwhite Quail, Scaled Quail, Rio Grande Turkey, Lesser Prairie-Chicken, Pronghorn, White-tailed and Mule Deer, Coyote, Bobcat, Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Raccoon, Eastern Cottontail, Texas Horned Lizard, Mourning Dove, Prairie Rattlesnake, and Western Massasauga Rattlesnake, plus numerous birds associated with wetland or riparian areas. Self-registration is required on the west side of the Murphy Unit. This Unit is a walk-in area only and camping is not permitted.

806-323-8642, Gene Howe WMA, Pat Murphy Unit

057.gif PHP 057 Canadian River Wagon Bridge, Hemphill County Recreation Area, and Canadian Golf Club

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

From the Pat Murphy Unit, go south on TX 305 to Glazier. Turn right on US 60 and follow into Canadian. From the intersection of US 83 and US 60 continue for 1.1 miles, turn right and the road will parallel the highway, terminating in the parking area for the wagon bridge.

Trails at the north end of the bridge provide access to miles of hiking along
the banks of the Canadian River, and dirt access roads beginning at both the north and south ends of the bridge allow you to walk or drive to the river’s edge. Beaver dams and spring rains turn much of the area beneath the bridge into a wildlife-rich wetland, with dragonflies, damselflies, frogs, and colorful wildflowers. During spring and summer, watch for Wood Duck, Mississippi Kite (in and over the cottonwood trees), Downy, Red-headed and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Great Crested Flycatcher, Carolina Wren, Indigo Bunting, Northern Cardinal, Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, and Bullock’s Oriole. Spectacular sunrises/sunsets are easily viewed from the bridge.

Across the highway from the bridge, check the Hemphill County Recreational Park; its ponds hold wintering waterfowl and the trees and shrubs attract a variety of woodpeckers and wintering sparrows. Lewis’s Woodpecker was seen here in the spring of 2001.

After walking the bridge and following the trails west along the river bottom, return to US 83/60 North, go under the trestle and turn left at 1.5 miles where US 83 and US 60 fork. Make the first left turn after Dry Creek, entering the golf club. Park at the clubhouse and walk the 200 yards back to the highway, scanning the trees and brush. Winter can produce Harris’s Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, and Sharp-shinned Hawk. During summer, Mississippi Kites and other birds of prey can be seen at the overlook. Deer are locally abundant, especially at dusk. During summer Purple Martins nest alongside the parking lot. Other common birds include Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, American Robin, and Northern Cardinal.

058.gif PHP 058 Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons, except during special hunts

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

Many Wildlife Management Areas in Texas offer free driving tours and nature trails. More extensive use of the WMAs requires a permit which supports the management of wildlife on these lands. Limited Use Permits ($10) are available where hunting and fishing licenses are sold, or by credit card at 1-800-895-4248, Option 1. Texas residents may want to purchase a Conservation Passport ($50), which allows free entrance to state parks and wildlife management areas for one year. Those holding Annual Public Hunting Permits ($40) are also provided free entrance to wildlife management areas statewide. Always call ahead for schedules and current information on access.

McQuiddy Hide-a-way: From US 83 turn east on FM 2266 and follow signs to the Gene Howe WMA. After 0.6 mile, stop at a gate and small grass parking area on the left. Park and follow the dirt road up the hill and down into the meadow. This 40-acre private tract abuts Gene Howe and consists of woods and a grove of soapberry trees. There is a trail around the bowl, which can produce woodland birds during migration, as well as butterflies in spring and summer. Coyote, fox, and deer occur here. In spring, songbirds such as Great Crested Flycatcher, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Blue Grosbeak, and Indigo Bunting are plentiful. Follow the trail through the sage for wildflowers such as primrose, winecups, monarda, spiderwort, and their associated butterflies.

WMA Headquarters: From McQuiddy Hide-a-way continue an additional 3.9 miles on FM 2266 East to the headquarters building on the right.

Stop here to register and check the feeders and the small stand of trees for woodland birds. Pinyon Jay is occasionally in the area during winter along with the more common Scrub Jay. During spring and summer, the road through Gene Howe teams with birdlife. Mississippi Kites and Warbling Vireos nest in the tall cottonwoods along the more wooded western part of the road through the WMA. Other common species include Red-tailed Hawk, Red-headed and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Great Crested Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Blue Grosbeak, and Indigo Bunting. Closer to Lake Marvin where the road passes through more open sand sagebrush habitat, Eastern and Western Kingbirds share fence lines with Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Western Meadowlarks barely overlap with Easterns, and Field Sparrows deliver their sweet bouncing ball song from roadside shrubs. Wild Turkey abounds all year. Be sure to watch for displaying toms during late winter and spring.

Prairie Dog Town: From Headquarters follow FM 2266 East for 1.3 miles. Turn left at the dirt road just east of the entry to the campground. Continue straight for 2.5 miles, bearing right where the road forks. This is the only Wildlife Management Area in the state with a prairie dog town. An observation hut allows you to watch the Prairie Dogs. Ducks can be found on the windmill pond, and Mississippi Kites are seen here in summer.

Upper Meadow Amphitheater: From Headquarters follow FM 2266 East for 2.9 miles turning right into the parking area. Wild Turkey occurs here. Bobcat, Coyote, and Barred Owl are regular residents. Mississippi Kite is also seen in the area.

Beaver Lodge Trail: From Headquarters follow FM 2266 East for 5.6 miles to West Bull Pasture on the right, which leads to Beaver Lodge Trail.

Beaver Lodge Trail is a 0.75 mile trail along a wetland, with excellent spots along the trail for observing waterfowl and other birds in the trees and brush that surround the wetland. Hackberry, persimmon, and willow trees provide good birding habitat, as do the wild plum trees, cattails, reed grass, and sedges. In winter, Harris’ Sparrow is a common visitor, especially around feeders (inquire at the headquarters), as is Spotted Towhee, and the occasional Tree Sparrow. White-breasted Nuthatches call from the taller trees and woodpeckers, including Hairy, are numerous.

806-323-8642, Gene Howe WMA

059.gif PHP 059 Lake Marvin, Black Kettle National Grasslands Recreation Area

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons Free, Daily

Site open for day use only.

From US 60/83, take FM 2266 East for 12 miles and bear to the right where the road forks once you’ve entered Black Kettle. The road leads directly to Lake Marvin.

This is one of the premier birding spots in the Panhandle. In winter, check the lake for numerous ducks including Ring-necked, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Ruddy, and both Hooded and Common Mergansers. Tundra Swan was seen here in 2002. Watch for Eared Grebe and the less common Horned Grebe. Bald Eagles occur in small numbers. Check the woods along the edge of the lake for Red-tailed Hawk, Mountain Bluebird, and Brown Creeper.

In spring and summer, woodpeckers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, House, Bewick’s and Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Warbling Vireo, Northern Cardinal, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Yellow Warbler occur here. Marsh Wren and Common Yellowthroat occur in the reed beds at the end of the boardwalk.

Check the unpaved roads leading into Lake Marvin. Sand sagebrush habitat dotted with thickets of wild plum, cottonwoods, and roadside ponds provide habitat for Great Blue Heron, ducks, a few shorebirds in season, Warbling Vireo, Mississippi Kite, Northern Flicker, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Hooded Merganser. Cassin’s, Lark, and Field Sparrows are common. Lesser Prairie-Chicken is extremely secretive and virtually impossible to see off the booming grounds during spring. Grasshopper Sparrow is quite common, as are Eastern and Western Kingbirds, Western Meadowlark, Roadrunner, and Common Nighthawk.

060.gif PHP 060 Anderson Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

Tours to Lesser Prairie-Chicken booming grounds provide an incomparable display of the rites of spring. One of the greatest concentrations of the dwindling Lesser Prairie-Chicken is in Hemphill, Wheeler, and Lipscomb Counties. Intensive efforts to stabilize and restore the population are underway, and the Anderson Ranch has a significant tract of land that is in excellent range condition. Anderson Ranch has an estimated twenty-six Lesser Prairie-Chicken breeding leks and, depending on the year, good populations of Bobwhite Quail. The ranch also has prairie dog towns and well-managed native grasslands that include big bluestem, little bluestem, switchgrass, and yellow Indiangrass.

A blind near the riverbank provides ideal opportunities for wildlife photography or observation. Wild Turkeys roost in the cottonwood stands along the river at night. The ranch provides an excellent venue for viewing the Canadian River breaks by kayak, which can be rented at the ranch when water levels permit. Look for a plethora of wildflowers in the spring, as well as raptors that can be found hunting above the grasslands. Golden Eagle has been seen by the large pond as you enter the ranch, and numerous puddle ducks and geese spend the winter here.

806-323-6234, Call for directions.

061.gif PHP 061 Washita Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

This site possesses excellent sand sagebrush habitat, ponds, a large lake, and significant stretches of hardwood river bottom along the Washita River. The ranch has a planned four-mile trail that follows the river course. In winter a number of puddle ducks and geese can be found on the ponds and lake, and a variety of sparrows can be seen in the brush. There is a lodge on the property, and guided tours, horseback rides, and barbecues can be arranged.

508-655-4599, Call for directions.

062.gif PHP 062 Arrington Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

Just below the working ranch house is a wetland that comprises the headwaters of the Washita River. Six miles of walking trails follow breeding sites for a cornucopia of dragonflies, as well as habitat for waterfowl and a variety of sparrows. Deer blinds along the creek provide a superb viewing opportunity for people seeking to photograph deer or flocks of Wild Turkey. There is also a prairie dog town with Burrowing Owls. Besides providing a splendid panoramic view, Cedar Mountain, the highest point on the property, is a good site for viewing Deer and Coyotes, as well as Eastern Bluebird, found on the ranch year-round. During winter, Mountain Bluebird occurs throughout the ranch, often in large flocks. Other birds commonly observed in winter include Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Red-tailed Hawk, Horned Lark, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Dark-eyed Junco, Mountain Bluebird, White-crowned Sparrow, and American Crow.

806-323-6924, Call for directions.


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