5:00 PM CST | February 9, 2019
Fort Worth is one of America's largest cities. It takes great pride in its heritage and preserving its history. Fort Worth proudly features a 3,000 acre preserve located on the western side of town. The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge is located in the floodplains between Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth. The West Fork of the Trinity River cuts through the park and is home to many types of wildlife. This includes water fowl, turtles, and alligators among others.
I have gone a couple times to the center and wanted to share some pictures I took of the wildlife and landscape. After taking the exit off Jacksboro Highway (Highway 199) toward Azle, you make a right-hand turn down Buffalo Road. Admission to the park is $5 for adults and less for children and seniors. Continuing northward on Buffalo Road, you will pass the Bison range to the left and the smaller Praire Dog Town to the right. Note, these exhibits are unfortunately closed during the winter. There is an ample tree canopy which covers portions of the road. This gives the park a very secluded feel on the outskirts of a busy metropolitan area.
You will eventually reach a dead-end/fork in the road, you will want to make a right turn. Continue eastward and follow the turn back toward the north. Continuing northward a short ways, you will make another right down Fossil Ridge Road if you wish to visit the Hardwicke Interpretive Visitor Center. The visitor's center features a gift shop and several wildlife exhibits, both inside and outside. Check out this alligator inside one of the aquariums.
On the backside of the center is a limestone caprock walking and hiking trail. You can get some nice, elevated views of the West Fork Trinity River along this trail. This a panorama I shot of part of the limestone trail. Those who enjoy photography can get some really nice pictures. Beware of snakes, though.
When exiting the visitor's center, you can either leave the same way you arrived or you can take the long way around the entire preserve. If you take the scenic route, you will drive by the marshlands of the Trinity River. There are a few areas where you can park and get out. One area is immediately north of the center. There is a bridge you can cross to reach the crosstimbers on the north side of the river. There is plenty of signage warning folks NOT to fish in these waters. It is a matter of public health, and there are also alligators in these waters. According to the Fort Worth website, there are a few dozen alligators estimated to be inside the park's boundaries. Here are the warnings posted.
I plan on visiting the park again in April or May, after it has warmed up. The Bison and Prairie Dog exhibits will be open again by that time. There is plenty to do there if you enjoy the outdoors. It is a little piece of what the western metroplex looked like before cities like Fort Worth grew and expanded. For the latest local weather information for your area, please visit the National Weather Service website. You can also find us on Facebook.