Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Mineola Nature Preserve

Earlier, I shared about our trip to the Quitman Arboretum, the tour of the Historic Stinson House, and the Medicinal Herb 101 class that was held at the Arboretum in June. After a morning in Quitman with my sister-in-law and niece, we decided to go to Mineola for lunch and they wanted to take me to the Mineola Nature Preserve.
 Now, I've seen the signs when going to Mineola or occasionally an event advertised on facebook that was being held there, although I had never been or realized what an awesome place this was. Wowee, y'all! The Mineola Nature Preserve is nearly 3,000 acres and free to the public (although I believe camping and horseback activities do require a fee).

 A pavilion sits high on the hill overlooking the area. The breeze is blowing and it was very comfortable to sit at the picnic tables and the swing, even though it was in the mid 90's. A amphitheater is located by the pavilion and star gazing events are held there - Jeff would love to go to that one night!

We started down a walking trail and past through the Master Gardener's area. I can only imagine what it would have looked like just a few weeks ago with everything in full bloom! I appreciated that their were markers to identify the plants.

 They showed me the sun dial, then we continued down the path to one of the ponds were families were fishing (catch and release) and saw a few ducks. It was all so peaceful.

 Next we headed down the hill on the Johnnie Bendy Trail. Paths were all very well maintained. The open fields were recently mowed and the walking path wove down the hill towards towards a more wooded area. The preserve goes all the way to the Sabine River, but we didn't walk that far. I believe they said about 2 1/2 miles to the river and we weren't prepared to be gone that long.
 We past a few more ponds and sloughs, with "watch for alligator'' signs!

 Down the trails, different trees were identified and observation decks were created at different points.

Then we came upon a bridge crossing and it was one of the most visually stimulating areas! An abandoned railroad trestle can be seen in the water. There were so many layers of foliage and textures galore. For an artist, photographer, and nature enthusiast, I was in love!  From the bridge we saw 2 snakes in the water below, turtles everywhere, and the white crane crisscrossed the area several times, along with several birds and butterflies. No, we didn't see any alligators, but that would have been awesome to photograph in the swamp! The clouds and sky were just perfect for the day! Brenna is involved with the 4-H photography program and together the two of us took lots of pictures!

It was a great relaxing afternoon! I can't wait to go back and take Jeff with me while wearing appropriate shoes, taking both my camera lenses, and plenty of drinks and snacks for a long hike through the preserve! On our way out, we were able to see the herd of Longhorn Cattle and the Buffalo that reside on the property (although we didn't stop to get a picture of them.)

All day, I was amazed at the Quitman Arboretum and the Mineola Nature Preserve. Until just recently, I didn't know either existed and they are both within 30 miles of our home! The three of us decided that we needed to start making more outings together and exploring little day trips and events around East Texas more often.

(We were a little sweaty from our hike back up the hill to the truck! Next time I'll have my hair up and water to take with me!)

Here's a Facebook post from the Mineola Nature Preserve showing their newly updated maps. 

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