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Wildlife Watching and Nature Trails

Trail_512x219Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge has 12 miles of foot trails that offer different experiences and different views, all of which you’ll find rewarding!

Trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset.  Park Rangers, roving naturalists and guides are available year-round to assist visitors.  Be sure to bring a map which you can download here or pick up at the Visitor Center.

Chachalaca Trail
One of the most popular trails on the refuge, the half-mile Chachalaca Trail leads visitors to the Willow Lakes. Here, elms and Rio Grande ash trees offer pleasant shade by the resacas. Look for least grebes, black-bellied whistling ducks, American avocets, and any of the three kingfishers—the ringed, green, and belted. The woodlands along the way shelter many of the common inhabitants, including chachalacas and green jays.

Cattail Lakes Trail
Meander through four distinct plant and animal communities along this 1.6-mile trail and discover the amazing biodiversity of the lower Rio Grande delta. Look for cactus wrens nesting in the prickly pear. Watch the great kiskadee pluck insects from the air!

Pintail Lakes Trail
This trail has it all: great birding, resacas, and the Rio Grande itself. As the trail winds around the Pintail Lakes, scan the cattails for elusive king rails. It takes a patient birder to spot all five rail species recorded here. In winter, look for vermilion flycatchers illuminating the treetops and white pelicans on the water. Listen for the bouncing ball call of the olive sparrow year round. Consider the Rio Grande, both international border and lifeblood of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Canopy Walk
The canopy walk on Santa Ana National Wildlife is the only one of its kind in South Texas.  The rope bridge extends between two towers giving visitors a chance to watch the wildlife above, below and right next to them in the Anacua and ebony trees!  

Tree Tower Overlook
Look down onto Spanish moss that clings high up in the Texas ebony trees. Climb 40 feet for a rewarding view atop the only open-air tower of its size in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. From the base, to the intermediate deck, and on to the top deck of Santa Ana’s unique attraction, visitors can enjoy changing views of the surrounding subtropical, riparian woodland and the amazing wildlife that it harbors. Imagine standing on the tower and watching 10,000 broad-winged hawks take flight on the thermals as they begin their migration north during the spring.  

Page Photo Credits — Chachalaca Trail / Marvin DeJong
Last Updated: May 08, 2012
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