Mineola Nature Preserve

Mineola Nature Preserve sign at the front entrance
At A Glance ?
Location Type: Destination
Population Rating: 2
Price/Fee: Free!
State: Texas
City/Town: Mineola
Route: 69
Coordinates: 32.623, -95.465
Address: 4429 SE Loop 564, 1860 Co Rd 2724, Mineola, TX 75773
Pet Friendly: Yes
Bike Friendly: Yes
Trail Surface Type: Paved, Dirt

The Mineola Nature Preserve is a very unique location that offers just about every activity you might expect in a park and then some! There’s incredible wildlife and lots of space to enjoy however you want!

Where It’s At

Mineola Nature Preserve is a very large and beautiful multi-use space in east Texas, just off Highway 69 to the southeast of the city of Mineola. The website says there are over 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horse riding inside the 2,911 acre park. That’s not even taking into account how much of the grounds can be traversed even where there are no official trails. We’ve been here several times and one of the things I really like about this place is how it feels like it has several very distinct areas within it, from open grassy fields to wooded areas and swampy spots.

The list of possible activities here is extensive. Besides the aforementioned trails, there’s your standard kids’ playground, a Master Gardener Wildscape Garden, an 18-hole disc golf course, several ponds for fishing, wildlife viewing piers and stands, and more nature than you could shake a stick at. You can leave a lock on the old Dr. John Thomas bridge on your way down the old rail bed trail to the Sabine River. You can even camp if that’s your thing.

Walking the Paths

Most, if not all, of the paths we’ve walked here are either paved or well-maintained short grass. I even hesitate to call them trails in that sense. We haven’t walked them all but from what I’ve seen I would give all of these paths a difficulty rating of easy. Perfect for relaxing strolls and nature observation. I will say, however, that the area can be subject to flooding so be prepared for a muddy adventure if you go following a heavy rain.

Learning

There’s a lot of little areas of learning available here. Starting at the Wildscape Garden just off the main parking lot, you’ll find lots of flowers and other plants to enjoy along with some informative signage. Further down the main paved walkway you’ll find a bee hive built into a stand designed to allow visitors to watch the bee activity. And in a fun bonus, one path features plaques depicting the planets and other bodies of our solar system spaced out relative to their actual distance from one another. And the path is really long enough to give you a real sense of what kind of distance exists between some of the planets.

The Nature

As stated earlier, there’s a lot of nature here. In fact, a sign in the park indicates that this is the “Birding Capital of East Texas”. There are at least two stands available for visitors to sit in and observe the wildlife without disturbing them.  There’s the usual assortment of wildlife that one can expect in this part of Texas, including deer, wild hogs, turtles and snakes. What is unique to me, though, are the alligators. We don’t often see alligators in Texas. In fact, the only time we’ve ever seen one in the wild was here at the Mineola Nature Preserve. There are lots of posted signs telling you to watch out for them and we can attest to the fact that they are indeed there.

The People

There always seems to be at least a few cars here whenever we come. But thanks to the sheer size of this park, you can enjoy a lot of it without dealing with crowds.

Final Takeaways

I’m just really impressed with this place and all that it has to offer. It’s a fantastic place to relax and check out the world around you. I would definitely file it under DESTINATION.

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