Chihuahua Woods Preserve
is one of two properties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley that is owned by the Nature Conservancy of Texas.
Easy to locate, take Expressway-83 to the west side of Mission and take
the Inspriration Road Exit. The exit will lead you to Bus-83. Go west, under the Expressway onto Bus-83 and
continue towards Bentsen Palm Drive (if you turn south on Bentsen Palm Dr. you will end at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP-WBC).
Continue west on Bus.-83 from its intersection with Bentsen Palm Drive for 3 miles. At 3 miles, Bus-83 will make a sharp
turn to your right. At the turn, carefully turn left (southwest) onto Chihuahua Rd., across Bus-83. Go ~ 50 yds.,
cross the RR tracks, and park on the left at Chihuahua Woods Preserve. Do NOT block the gate.
If you are a butterflier, before entering Chihuahua Woods Preserve,
walk the RR tracks to the west, checking the southside of the tracks for butterflies. These tracks can be very good
for butterflies in the fall, when the Crucita is blooming.
After checking with Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr Counties' Sheriff
Depts., we learned that more crimes had been reported at Chihuahua Woods Preserve, than all other LRGV wildlife watching
locations, combined. Be sure your valuables are locked in your trunk. Vehicle break-ins are common.
Use insect repellent in the parking area. This grassy property
is full of chiggers and ticks. Stay on the trails, watch for snakes, and take plenty of water.
Chihuahua Woods Preserve is composed of about 349 acres. 90% of
all plants are Guinea Grass, Mesquite and Prickly Pear. This extreme lack of diversity in plant life means there
is not a lot of diversity in wildlife. However, the birds you do see here can be guite interesting. Cactus
Wrens are often heard calling and Curve-billed Thrashers seem to be everywhere. Hook-billed Kites recently nested here
in June, 2010.
From the gate you will walk ~100 yds. to the south, before the
only "official" trail begins. In this short stretch you will see lots of birds, butterflies and
When the tract makes a sharp bend to the right (west) at the fenced
gas-well valves, the marked trail will begin. On your left (east) is a pipeline right-of-way where the trail will end
and bring you back to this location.
Since you took the trail to the right, go west and there
will be a fork in the track. The track that goes west along the fence will take you to some of the best Western
Pygmy-Blue habitat in all the LRGV wildlife watching sites.
want to veer to the left (southwest) onto the gravel trail.
Stay on the gravel trail and watch for Mesquite, Prickly Pear
and Guinea Grass. Notce the large numbers of Striped Rabdotus - Rabdotus alternatus (land snails) that are feeding on
the Prickly Pear. These snails are the primary food source of Hook-billed Kites.
Chihuahua Woods has impressive
stands of Prickly Pear. The few other species of cacti that are found here can be found at other LRGV wildlife watching
Continue on the gravel trail, this time switch to watching for Prickly
Pear, Mesquite and Guinea Grass.
Mix it up a bit and watch
for Guinea Grass, Mesquite and Prickly Pear.
The gravel trail will end onto a dirt trail. Continue onward
for more Mesquite, Guinea Grass and Prickly Pear.
WHOA! On your left, just a little bit ahead of the Prickly
Pear, is a Granjeno or Spiny Hackberry. Keep on truckin'.
At this point, the right side of the trail will be bordered by a
deep, wide drainage ditch. At least there is no Prickly Pear in the ditch.
Looking down the ditch,
you won't see any Prickly Pear, either....a neat change in scenery.
Continue on the trail, and keep hoping for some form of life from
the animal kingdom.
Ever since the gravel trail ended, you have been heading straight
east. Now you come to a "tee" in the trail. You are directed to go left (north) back toward the pipeline
right-of-way and the track back to the entrance gate. However, since you suspect you will only see the Big Three by
going back, take the path to the right (south), across the ditch you have been walking beside.
Going south on the trail is a little more fun, because it is shadier
and the Guinea Grass is greener.
Soon, you will come out of the dense Mesquites into a more open
and sunny area. We hear a Cactus Wren and saw a Northern Mockingbird! Life does exist!
Well phooey! Guinea Grass, Prickly Pear and Mesquite.
You can hear an occasional grasshopper.
Guinea Grass, Prickly Pear and Mesquite. Now we are seeing
That was so much fun that we decided to return back to where the
trail met the "tee" and we were supposed to have gone to the left (north). The good stuff is yet to come.
The Big Three again.
The trail ends at the pipeline right-of-way. Turning left
(south) for several yards and we will be back at the gas well valves and the turn back towards the entrance gate.
My pedometer shows 1.7 miles, David's shows 2.0 miles (I knew he was
lying about how much he has been walking). There is a lot of re-veg
potential at Chihuahua Woods.