Nature Trail to Upper White Lake Overlook

Muleshoe, Texas

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The allure of Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge for hikers and outdoors enthusiasts is twofold: it is the oldest national wildlife refuge in Texas, established in 1935 as a link in a chain of migratory flyways, and it is the wintering grounds for thousands of sandhill cranes. The sandhill crane is one of the largest of waterfowl species in North America, and its sheer numbers at the refuge—an estimated 250,000, both in flight and at rest, from October until mid-February—are an outstanding sight. The cranes use the refuge’s three sink lakes for their overnights, leaving at dawn to feed on the detritus left after harvest in the surrounding agricultural fields and returning at dusk in wave after wave of silhouettes arcing against the winter sky as they gather for the night. These shallow, salty sinks—pancakes of water that have no outlets and depend on rain runoff to fill their basins—are ideal habitat for the wintering cranes as these birds prefer less than 4 inches of water, a depth that provides them with a sense of security and safety.

Nature Trail to Upper White Lake Overlook Professional Review and Guide

"The allure of Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge for hikers and outdoors enthusiasts is twofold: it is the oldest national wildlife refuge in Texas, established in 1935 as a link in a chain of migratory flyways, and it is the wintering grounds for thousands of sandhill cranes. The sandhill crane is one of the largest of waterfowl species in North America, and its sheer numbers at the refuge—an estimated 250,000, both in flight and at rest, from October until mid-February—are an outstanding sight.

The cranes use the refuge’s three sink lakes for their overnights, leaving at dawn to feed on the detritus left after harvest in the surrounding agricultural fields and returning at dusk in wave after wave of silhouettes arcing against the winter sky as they gather for the night. These shallow, salty sinks—pancakes of water that have no outlets and depend on rain runoff to fill their basins—are ideal habitat for the wintering cranes as these birds prefer less than 4 inches of water, a depth that provides them with a sense of security and safety."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Muleshoe
Distance: 1
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: 1 hour
Season: Best in Winter
Local Contacts: Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge
Local Maps: USGS Upper White Lake
Driving Directions: Directions to Nature Trail to Upper White Lake Overlook

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May 2018