Duane Mortensen, 2018
Lavon Lake is the largest lake contained within Collin County. The length of its shoreline stretches 121 miles, and the managed wildlife area surrounding the lake boasts 6400 acres. Given the fact it is so close to millions of people, why is it so little used? Given the number of undisturbed acres, I would argue that it is under-represented in iNaturalist data. Part of the answer lies in the poor condition of the parks surrounding the lake. Road access, restrooms and signage are regularly in disrepair. If you ignore the disrepair on the edges of the park, and venture inside, it is amazing what you can find. The wild area is so large, part of the challenge is knowing where to start.
A good reference point for our group is the Raptor Center. Many of our members volunteer countless hours to the work of raptor rehabilitation at the center. In addition there is focused effort on Blackland Prairie restoration within Brockdale Park, which is adjacent to the center, on the shore of Lavon Lake. If you visit this area the wonderful potential existing all around the lake becomes clear.
So where else to look? One of the best parks on the lake is Sister Grove Park on the very North end of the Lake. It contains 75 acres with extensive primative hiking/biking trails. To explore the most habitat in the managed area, you can’t beat the Trinity Trail that stretches more than 25 miles along the west side of the lake. If you’ve been to the raptor center you’ve crossed this trail. The trail follows close beside the road as you pass the raptor center, and it’s roughly the midpoint of the trail which starts near the dam on the south end of the lake. The trail is maintained by a dedicated group of equestrians and some hikers calling themselves the Trinity Trail Preservation Association. To find places to park and descriptions of the trail, go to their web site at: http://www.trinitytrailriders.org/
Over the years, morehikers have come to use the trail. Their feedback is reflected on the hiking application AllTrails at their website: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/us/texas/wylie ] In general, the trail maintenance is pretty good. There are restrooms and places to park at the trailheads. The trail conditions can change during the year, and some sections can be confusing, so it can be helpful to use AllTrail’s reviews as well as the website managed by the Trinity Trail Association, which are updated often as conditions change.
So, what can you find?
The whole area is ideal for birding. Ebird lists the shoreline at the southern most trailhead as one of the better hot spots on the lake. Brockdale Park is another hotspot. But the trail has more than shoreline access. The trail traverses both grassland and riparian areas, so you can find birds preferring most any habitat.
The trail itself contains interesting critters that will keep you on your toes.
The meadows contain the normal Blackland Prairie grasses including little bluestem, Indian grass and switch grass, as well as a good variety of forbs hosting their eager pollinators.
Lavon Lake was created in 1953 from land that was previously farmed. Occasionally, you come across an old stock pond that has formed its own ecosystem.
Your curiosity will be rewarded as you explore the trails and fishing paths heading down to the lake. Not to be missed is the trail’s most famous resident which is a champion Sycamore Tree. It defiantly clings to the edge of Wilson Creek at the north end of the loop. But probably my favorite thing to do is to sit by the lake’s edge on a quiet evening as the sun is going down and the lake has barely a ripple. Then, I often catch sight of the herons and egrets heading home after a day of hunting for food.