Hotspots Near You

283. Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, Denton, Texas

Bottomland hardwood forest, upland prairie, and other birdy habitats northwest of Dallas

The Clear Creek area is my favorite place to go birdwatching, whether alone or with a group of birders or other naturalists. The center is the gateway to more than 2,900 acres of the Clear Creek Nature Preserve, a wonderful riparian area. It has diverse flora and fauna, with about 4 miles of interpretive, well-maintained loop trails.

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.

283. Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, Denton, Texas

Directions

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center provides access to bottomland hardwood forest, upland prairie, and diverse aquatic habitats northeast of Denton. From E. University Dr., turn left onto Cooper Creek Rd. Turn right onto Mingo Rd.; it turns left and becomes Collins Rd. It leads to a gravel entranceway to the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
33°15’35.44″N 97°3’50.92″W

Habitat

Wetlands, native grasslands, bottomland forest, open prairie.

Terrain

Mostly flat trails for all skill levels. About 4 miles of family-friendly hiking trails. Trails often muddy after heavy rains.

Birds

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.

Amenities

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.

Access

City-managed natural heritage area. Free admission. Plenty of parking. Open daily 6-10.

Tips

Wear waterproof shoes (trails may be wet).

For more info

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
For birding walks, contact Scott Kiester.

Sites nearby

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.

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Caroline Blaha-Black

Caroline Blaha-Black is a former Elm Fork Master Naturalist, a freelance writer and book author. She also volunteers at a local wildlife rescue.

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