The area was created to restore and protect upland prairies and rare bottomland hardwood forest ecosystems. The best part of my first walk there was the sheer variety of birds I saw, along with many types of mammals — opossums, raccoons, and armadillos — that slowly disappeared into the undergrowth ahead of our group.
I like to take the Wetland Trail to see waterfowl and herons. If you’re lucky, you will spot a beaver in the water. I saw an opossum in the trees that followed our every move not too far from us, and a mockingbird that got used to our presence quickly and followed us from treetop to treetop as we walked. The local Master Naturalists from the Elm Fork Chapter offer morning bird walks regularly in this area, and it is well worth getting up early to experience the area’s wildlife.
At a Glance
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Wetlands, native grasslands, bottomland forest, open prairie.
Mostly flat trails for all skill levels. About 4 miles of family-friendly hiking trails. Trails often muddy after heavy rains.
Winter: Northern Pintail, Redhead, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Northern Flicker, Loggerhead Shrike, wrens, Hermit Thrush, Eastern Towhee and other sparrows, American Pipit. Spring: Lesser Scaup, Neotropic Cormorant, sandpipers, Franklin’s Gull, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, hummingbirds, Bald Eagle, Broad-winged Hawk, Crested Caracara, Sandhill Crane, kingbirds, vireos, Purple Martin, warblers, tanagers, Indigo Bunting. Summer: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Northern Bobwhite, herons, egrets, terns, Swainson’s Hawk, Wood Thrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Lark Sparrow, Orchard Oriole. Fall: American Avocet, Greater White-fronted Goose, Gadwall, Baird’s Sandpiper, Whimbrel, White-winged Dove, kites, kingbirds, wrens, warblers, Spotted Towhee, Clay-colored and Fox Sparrows.
When to go
Year-round, especially early in the morning.
Free bird walks on the last Saturday of each month, 7:30-10:30 a.m. Restrooms and potable water available only when the visitor center is open, which is only during workshops and events. Workshops are free, and are usually once a month on a Saturday morning. Bring your own water bottle. Portable toilet on Collins Rd. next to the parking lot.
City-managed natural heritage area. Free admission. Plenty of parking. Open daily 6-10.
Wear waterproof shoes (trails may be wet).
For more info
Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
For birding walks, contact Scott Kiester.
Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area Nature Preserve
On the south shore of Lake Lewisville, 18 miles from Clear Creek. More than 260 bird species. Wintering raptors, sparrows, ducks, shorebirds, and gulls.
Trinity River Audubon Sanctuary, Hotspot Near You No. 274
Southeast of downtown Dallas. Waterbirds, gulls, hummingbirds, Loggerhead Shrike, Painted Bunting. Great spot for spring and fall migrants.