Trails

Trail Map and Guide

A trail map and guide is available online or hard copies can be obtained at the refuge.

Rail Trail

Length: 0.5 miles

Waterbirds, from rails to bitterns, lurk in the reeds lining Tomas Slough. This grassy trail parallels the long, narrow wetland that is home to alligators as well.

Alligator Viewing Area

Length: <0.1 mile

Take a short walk up the ramp and look for alligators in Tomas Slough, one of the few freshwater resources on the refuge. On sunny days, you may see an alligator basking on the bank. Listen for frogs and birds calling and look for fish swimming in the water.

Heron Flats Trail

Length: 1.4 miles

Freshwater sloughs, shell ridges, oak forests, and tidal flats make this trail quite diverse. You’ll find two observation platforms equipped with spotting scopes. If you’re lucky, you might see a whooping crane family feeding in the marshy salt flats. Watch, too, for herons, egrets, roseate spoonbills, pelicans, and other wildlife.
* Please note that this trail will not make a loop.

Songbird Loop 

Length: 0.1 mile

Listen to a spring songbird serenade as you wander this short woodland loop.

Oak Sanctuary

Length: 0.1 mile

Walk this short trail towards San Antonio Bay and experience the mystery of a 500- year old oak tree. What might you find hiding in its branches, or seeking its shade? The oak is covered in mustang grapevine.
 

Dagger Point Trail

Length: 1 mile

Hike a winding trail through an oak/ red bay forest. One of the few hills on the refuge offers an excellent vista.

Jones Lake

Length: <0.1 mile

A very short, paved walkway leads to a platform overlooking the lake, another potential alligator hangout. The water in this lake comes entirely from rainfall.

Big Tree Trail

Length: 0.7 mile

Encounter some of the refuge’s largest live oak trees along this woodland loop.

Observation Towers and Boardwalk

In addition to crane watching, the two observation towers (20’ and 40’) offer a panoramic view of San Antonio Bay and Mustang Lake. Both towers are fully accessible with gently sloping ramps. Follow the boardwalk across the tidal flat to the Big Tree Observation Deck. Look for animal tracks in the mud.

Fishing Pier  

Open Season:  Year-round 

Length:  100 feet 

Open all year, the fishing pier offers excellent opportunities to catch red fish and sea trout. It is also a fun place to watch for dolphins in the bay and sting rays swimming below. Here is where you might also see brown pelicans, terns, and water birds that change with the tide. 

Auto Tour Loop 

Length: 16 miles 

The paved tour loop provides a leisurely ride through Texas savannah, what Texas must have looked like a hundred years ago. The scenic ride becomes a one-way at the Observation Tower. Along the way you might get to see deer, hawks, javelina, bobcat, and an occasional rattlesnake crossing the road. 

Mustang Lake Access Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.08
View Trail

Oak Sanctuary Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.06
View Trail

Big Tree Boardwalk

Trail Length (mi)
0.22
View Trail

Jones Lake Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.03
View Trail

Fishing Pier Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.04
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Alligator Viewing Area Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.01
View Trail

Tower Boardwalk

Trail Length (mi)
0.15
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Dagger Point Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.65
View Trail

Songbird Loop Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.14
View Trail

Big Tree Trail

Rail trail leads to a freshwater marsh and includes all 6 species of rails—black, yellow, king, sora, clapper, and Virginia. There are two entrances with an excellent alligator viewing area in between. 
Trail Length (mi)
0.63
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Estimated Time
15 Minutes
Route Type
Out & back
Trail Activities
Wildlife watching
Birding
Suitability
Dog friendly
Kid friendly
View Trail

Heron Flats Trail

Trail Length (mi)
1.22
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