Escape the concrete of the city
and hike over 6.5 miles of self-guided or interpreted nature trails that wind
though the diverse habitats of our 289-acre wildlife sanctuary, including tall
grass prairie, bottomland hardwood and limestone escarpment. Take advantage of
the opportunity to encounter many species of birds, insects and animals.
No Pets Allowed on Sanctuary.
While our indoor exhibits are
wheelchair and stroller accessible, the Heard nature trails are not wheelchair or walker accessible. The trails are not paved and are only
accessible to running strollers (not umbrella strollers). Call 972.562.5566 for details.
Trails are open only when the museum is open. Please check-in at the front desk
by 4 P.M.
Guided trails are available by
reservation only or during pre-scheduled events.
Reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance. For information
regarding how to to reserve a trail guide, please visit this page. Minimum group size of 15 persons required to
schedule. Fees may apply.
Hoot Owl Trail
A self-guided ½ mile easy-to-moderate trail with a nice combination of upland
and bottomland terrain.
Cedar Brake Loop
A self-guided 2/3 mile trail with beautiful, seasonal native wildflowers.
Wood Duck Trail
A 1 mile wetlands boardwalk and overland trail with the best view of the
A 1 mile (round trip) moderate trail with the best view of the Heard’s prairies.
A 1¼ mile easy-to-moderate trail with deep shade and large, old trees.
Animals of the World Trail
Heard Natural Science Museum
& Wildlife Sanctuary would like to remind you that there are risks
associated with outdoor activities. Before you visit the Heard Wildlife
Sanctuary and gardens, please become aware of and alert children to any risky
areas or conditions that may be present in your surroundings. Please do not
leave trails, and do not approach areas or conditions that may pose a risk to
you or your family. You should also be aware of your family’s physical
limitations and always take necessary safety precautions while exploring the
Several species of flora and
fauna that reside on the Heard Sanctuary can cause mild to severe physical pain
or injury, including (but not limited to) copperhead snakes, fire ants, and
poison ivy. Additional tips to help you get the most out of your visit are available here.
Copperheads can be recognized by their deep reddish brown cross bands that are
about as wide dorsally as they are laterally. Their beautiful pattern and brown
coloration provides excellent cover when coiled up or even slithering among the
leaves. As with any animal, any provocation can result in retaliation. Even the
simple gesture of grabbing a rake next to the near-invisible snake may seem
threatening. Snakes are an important part of our ecosystem, so please be
watchful and simply avoid them. Copperheads feed on mice, small birds, small
snakes, insects, and amphibians, helping to keep the populations of these small
animals in balance. You can read more about this beneficial species here
The Western cottonmouth, (also known as a water moccasin)
prefers moist environments such as marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, ditches, and
canals. This stubby, muscular snake can grow to nearly six feet. When
threatened, it will open its mouth to show its fangs. The inside of its mouth
is white and reminded people of cotton, hence the name cottonmouth. They eat frogs,
fish and small animals. Cottonmouths are sometimes confused with watersnakes.
However, the cottonmouth does have distinct features including cat-like pupils
and a pit on the side of the head between the eye and the nostril.
The highly aggressive nature of the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is a
commonly recognized trait. A disturbed mound will result in several hundred
worker ants swarming out and stinging vertical surfaces. If you are standing on
a mound, this process may take only a few seconds, so it’s important to be
aware of what kind of surface you are standing on. Fire ant mounds are
characterized by “fluffy” soil, lacking a central entry, unlike most ant
mounds. You can read more about how to identify ants commonly found in Texas
Poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans, is well known for its ability to cause a
skin rash. The leaf shape is characterized by a division into three
almond-shaped leaflets. Each group of three grows on its own stem, which
connects directly to the main vine. The leaves of the poison ivy plant range
from light to dark green. They may also range in color from red to yellow in
the fall. This plant also does not possess thorns. There are a number of
mnemonic rhymes, such as “Leaflets of three, let it be,” which can help you
remember the characteristics of this plant.