Boca Chica Beach Hike

Brownsville, Texas 78523

Boca Chica Beach Hike

Boca Chica Beach Hike Professional Review and Guide

"Boca Chica is where the Rio Grande River makes its final push to the sea, playing havoc with ocean currents as its fresh water flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Boca Chica means “little mouth” in Spanish, and the river cuts only a modest swath through the sand, thus earning its “Boca Chica” designation. However, during the Rio Grande’s periodic heavy flooding, my personal, informal “Boca Grande” applies; and drought often makes the mouth vanish altogether, inspiring my temporary “Boca Nada.”

The area encompassing Boca Chica, a coastal region that lies in the protective embrace of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge called the Boca Chica Unit, illustrates the true character of the southern Texas coastal wetlands: dune-flanked against the ocean, pocked with shallow depressions that collect fresh rainwater and support a remarkable array of wildlife, and featuring expansive flats frequently inundated by storm waters."

More Boca Chica Beach Hike Professional Reviews and Guides

"Boca is Spanish for “mouth,” as in the mouth of the Rio Grande, which reaches the Gulf of Mexico about 18 miles east of Brownsville. At times, that is, the river actually reaches the Gulf. So depleted is its water by human uses that occasionally the flow simply pools up in the sands of Boca Chica beach.

The drive east along Texas Highway 4 is often a solitary one, through mostly undeveloped grassy flats. It’s worth making the trip, in fact, just to see such an unspoiled expanse of the Rio Grande Valley. Some of the land in the area has been acquired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as one of the many disjunct tracts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge."

"The Boca Chica area does not get the attention from birders that it deserves, so year-round reports are lacking. The area is 1 of 23 units of the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area, which runs for 120 miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande to the Prieta Unit in Starr County.

Key birds: Least Grebe, American White and Brown Pelicans, Neotropic Cormorant, Reddish Egret, White and White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Mottled Duck, Harris’s Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Plain Chachalaca, White-tipped Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Groove-billed Ani, Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Great Kiskadee, Couch’s Kingbird, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Tropical Parula, Olive Sparrow, and Altamira Oriole occur year-round. Anhinga, Magnificent Frigatebird, Least Bittern, Wood Stork, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Purple Gallinule, Wilson’s Plover, Least Tern, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, and Botteri’s Sparrow are present in summer. Northern Gannet, Osprey, White-tailed Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Snowy and Piping Plovers, and Vermilion Flycatcher can usually be found in winter."

Boca Chica Beach Hike Reviews

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Considered one of the most biologically diverse refuges in the nation, LRGV’s amazing diversity spans over 100 tracts that includes tidal flats and beaches, subtropical forests, semi-arid brushlands, and grasslands along the last 275 river miles of the Rio Grande. With over 95% of the original lower Rio Grande delta habitat cleared or altered, efforts by LRGV to preserve and restore native vegetation is critical. Reconnecting fragmented pieces of habitat is one of the primary goals of the refuge.

Boca Chica Beach Hike Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
1.5 hours
Best in Fall
Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Local Contacts
USGS Mouth of Rio Grande
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018