Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Muleshoe Loop

Muleshoe Loop map

Muleshoe loop mapMuleshoe National Wildlife RefugeAK RanchFM 1731 North Driving Route Between FM 298 and FM 1760

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More information:

  • Muleshoe Chamber of Commerce, 806-272-4248, www.muleshoechamber.org

033.gif PHP 033 Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migrations

Site open for day use only.

At the intersection of US 84 and FM 54 West in Littlefield, take FM 54 West for 19.1 miles to Bulah Lake. Continue west on FM 37 to TX 214 North. Continue for 2.4 miles and turn left into the refuge.

This is the oldest national wildlife refuge in Texas, and it provides important habitat in the Central Flyway migratory route. Heavily dependent on rainfall, a sufficiently wet year can attract great numbers of Sandhill Cranes, which spend the winter here. Over 100,000 of these spectacular birds can be present during winter. Ducks are abundant during migration, with species such as Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, and Mallard commonly observed. Lesser numbers of Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck and Bufflehead are also found at any of the three lakes on the refuge. Close to three hundred different species have been sighted on the refuge, and peak viewing times coincide with spring and fall migrations.

Goose Lake is one of the refuge’s ephemeral lakes, and a stop for migrating shorebirds. To reach Paul’s Lake, return to TX 214 North for 1.8 miles and turn right on County Road 1232, which leads to the observation area. An elevated viewing platform provides great views of the lake and wetland that teem with wetland birds during migration. Songbirds are numerous during spring, and the wooded habitat adjacent to the campground provides a good area to view birds.

Red-necked Phalaropes and White-rumped Sandpiper, both uncommon in the Panhandle, have occurred here. The access road to the headquarters buildings parallels a grassy wetland; during spring, look for Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Wilson’s Phalarope, White-faced Ibis, and puddle ducks such as Gadwall and Northern Shoveler. In the drier stretches, watch for Lark Bunting and American Kestrel. Check the Swamp Trail behind the maintenance building. Sparrows, orioles and buntings occur here, as do many dragonflies. Hundreds of moisture craving butterflies are often packed around the pond’s margin, including Dainty Sulphur, Southern Dogface, American Painted Lady, Variegated Fritillary, Queen, and Reakirt’s Blue, and Common Checkered Skipper. Watch for mammals including Coyote, Bobcat, Badger, Porcupine, Rabbit, and Skunk.

806-946-3341, southwest.fws.gov/refuges/texas/mule

034.gif PHP 034 AK Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

From Muleshoe NWR, go south on TX 214 5.4 miles to Enochs. Turn right (west) on FM 54 and continue 8.4 miles to FM 1731. Go north 6.1 miles and stop at the house with a blue barn on the right, to obtain a gate key from the landowner. Continue another 1.1 miles to the ranch gate on the right. From the gate, proceed 0.8 mile on a caliche road to a parking area. Only foot traffic is allowed beyond the parking area.

Monument Lake, near the parking area, fills seasonally with water, attracting a variety of waterbirds and other wildlife. A short walk beyond the parking area is a smaller pond that also provides habitat for wildlife during wet periods. A large willow tree across the road from the pond attracts songbirds. Thirty-eight bird species have been recorded on the property, including Cassin’s and Lark Sparrows, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Northern Mockingbird and Great-tailed Grackle.

806-946-3634

035.gif PHP 035 FM 1731 North Driving Route Between FM 298 and FM 1760

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter

Site open for day use only.

Continue north on FM 1731. Go 1.7 miles and cross FM 298. The next 17.3 miles of FM 1731 before you reach the intersection with FM 1760 is the best for birding.

This stretch of road has excellent habitat for winter rarities such as Northern Shrike, which has been seen on this road as recently as January, 2001. Check the fields along the road during spring for migrating Upland Sandpiper and Long-billed Curlew.


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