Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge

Just a 10-minute drive from Pottsboro lies one of the best-kept secrets in north central Texas – Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. At almost 12,000 acres in size, the Refuge provides habitat for hundreds of species of birds and wildlife AND offers many opportunities to explore the great outdoors.

The Refuge Visitor Center (new in 2011) is a great place to start your visit. Here, you can pick up a map and guide to Refuge hiking trails, or take one of several free bird and wildlife identification leaflets. Ask the Refuge Volunteer at the information desk about free tram tours, or what birds and wildlife have been seen lately. Check out exhibits highlighting Refuge wildlife and habitats, migratory birds, recreational activities, and the historic town of Hagerman. Shop the Nature Nook for unique gifts and tee shirts, or look for birds on the lake through the spotting scope. Take a moment to read the “green tags” that show how the facility was built to be “easy on the Earth” by using environmentally-friendly design and technology.

Ready to get out and explore? Ease along Wildlife Drive looking closely for secretive marsh birds such as the Least Bittern, or catch a glimpse of a Great Egret fishing in shallow waters. Watch for northern harriers soaring low over grassy areas and marshes looking – and listening – for small mammals scurrying through the underbrush. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer or bobcats roaming Refuge forests and fields.

Want to get really up-close and personal with nature? Take a walk on one of five hiking trails, including Harris Creek Trail that is now universally accessible. Haller’s Haven, Meadow Pond, and Raasch Trails will take you through forested areas, by creeks, and along grassy fields. Visit the new photoblind on Meyers Branch near the visitor center and don’t forget to bring your camera!

Three Day Use Areas offer picnic tables and restroom facilities. Fishing is allowed year-round in Lake Texoma waters. Boating and limited hunting are also welcome in designated areas and seasons.

Birds are the top attraction with 338 species recorded since the Refuge was established in 1946. Mississippi Kites and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers hunt the summer skies for insects. Great Blue Herons nest in tall, creek-side trees during spring and can be seen throughout the Refuge in every season.

Thousands of American White Pelicans stop at the Refuge in April and again in September to refuel along their journeys. Painted Buntings and Summer Tanagers fill the air with their songs during spring and summer, and over 20 species of sparrows can be seen at various times of the year.

Fall and winter bring many hawks perching on limbs of trees along the lake. Snow and Ross’ geese by the thousands fill Refuge wheat fields and loaf on shallow waters from November through early March. Ducks including Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Blue and Green-winged Teal, and Northern Pintail are common in Refuge marshes during fall and winter months.

Refuge staff actively manage these lands for birds and wildlife. Farming at Hagerman provides 400 acres of wheat for wintering geese. Earthen dikes create shallow marshes for birds. The marshes are flooded each fall for ducks, then drained each spring to allow growth of wild plants favored by those same ducks. Spring and fall migrations bring spectacular flocks of shorebirds to Hagerman wetlands and Lake Texoma shorelines. Long legged wading birds such as Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and White-faced Ibis tiptoe along the shorelines from spring through fall in search of insects, crayfish, and minnows.

Native prairies protect the soil and provide food and cover for wildlife. At the Refuge, controlled burns are held to mimic natural fire cycles that help maintain prairie habitat. Replanting of native grasses and wildflowers is occurring to help restore this disappearing grassland ecosystem.

Although they take top billing for many people, birds are not the only attraction. Bottomland hardwoods along the creeks attract a variety of wildlife. Watch for white-tailed deer, bobcats with young in the summer, armadillos, turtles, and beaver. Listen for the howl of coyotes at dusk.

The Refuge is open from dawn to dusk 365 days a year and admission is free. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.. On weekends, Volunteers staff the Center on Saturday 9 – 4 and Sunday 1-5, closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Situated on the Big Mineral Arm of Lake Texoma just southwest of Pottsboro, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is closer than you think. To reach the Refuge from Pottsboro, travel south on Highway 289 to Refuge Road, turn right (west), and go about four miles. The Refuge Visitor Center will be on your right.

The Friends of Hagerman offer free activities including nature programs for both adults and youth on the Second Saturday of each month, year-round. Program information is available at the Visitor Center and at the Friends’ website, http://www.fws.gov/refuge/hagerman/

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
6465 Refuge Road
Sherman, Texas 75092-5817
(903)786-2826

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