|Old Cement structures. Photo by Tammy Doriot|
One of the many attractions close to our B&B in Jefferson Texas is only a few miles away. We were curious about it so we went “Back to Nature” yesterday when we took a short drive from our Jefferson Texas Bed and Breakfast out to the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge. We were met at the visitor center by one of the volunteers. She showed us around the building and explained many of the items on display. She also gave us a brief history of the refuge. The Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge was formed in October of 2000 on parts of the 8,500 acre Longhorn Army Ammunition plant. As the army finishes removing its equipment and cleaning up their sites, the refuge will take over more of the area, eventually controlling the entire area. Even now you can see some the old cement buildings becoming one with the surroundings. An old trestle bridge rotting back to the wild is just one of the signs that the refuge is moving right along.
|Map of the Grounds. Photo by Tammy Doriot|
Back in 1993 portions of what is now known as the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the wetlands became the 13th site in the US designated as “wetlands of international significance” under the Ramsar Convention.
|Canoes at the Star Ranch ready for launch. Photo by Tammy Doriot|
There are numerous activities to do on the refuge. There is a six mile long, self guided, auto tour which we took. It is all paved roads through some beautiful wooded areas. The only section of gravel road was on the way to the old Star Ranch. This road takes you out to the edge of Caddo Lake to the Star family fishing retreat. The buildings were abandoned long ago, but by looking around at the beauty of the place, you can see why they came here.
|Old BBQ at the Star Ranch. Photo by Tammy Doriot|
There are many miles of paved and gravel roads for hikers and bikers to explore. It is mostly level which makes for easy going. There is also a nine mile long Wildlife observation Trail. This trail is open to horseback riding or hiking only. This trail is built on an old railroad bed that makes one big loop through the refuge.
|Beautiful, invasive Water Hyacinth on Caddo Lake. Photo by Tammy Doriot|
If you are in to wildlife observation or photography, this is the place to go. The Fish and Wildlife service have recorded 216 bird, 47 mammal, and 90 reptile and amphibian species on the refuge. Since we took the driving tour, we didn’t see much of the wildlife, but we did see some great fall foliage. And some of the shore plants that were quite beautiful, which we later found out are one of the invasive plants that plague Caddo Lake.
|Flora near the water line at Caddo Lake. Photo by Tammy Doriot|
We can’t wait to go back and do some more exploring.