New trail to bring back safe public access to Horseshoe Marsh Bird Sanctuary

We’re excited to start construction of a new trail at Horseshoe Marsh Bird Sanctuary on the Bolivar Peninsula, bringing back safe access to the sanctuary. This project is one of the first to be developed specifically for the Bolivar Peninsula Nature Trail, a locally supported nature-based tourism initiative.

Horseshoe Marsh is Houston Audubon’s second largest sanctuary at 650 acres. This complex of salt marsh, coastal prairie, and a large tidal lagoon provides critical habitat for a range of bird species from the striking Roseate Spoonbill to the secretive Black Rail.

Historically, public access has been largely restricted to a short trail with street parking on the East end of the property, which was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Since then, visitors have been limited to views from the adjacent public roadways, posing dangers to pedestrians from passing vehicles. In 2017, after acquiring a 17-acre lot adjacent to the sanctuary, our staff began working on a new trail to allow public access to Horseshoe Marsh.

Houston Audubon partnered with Texas Conservation Corps of American Youthworks to apply for a Recreational Trails Grant managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was awarded $63,000 for the construction of a non-motorized, one mile trail into the core of the sanctuary.

The new trail will include:

  • on-site parking at the trailhead
  • planting of a half-acre woodlot
  • five acres of prairie restoration
  • approximately 700 feet of boardwalk
  • two overlooks
  • interpretive signage
  • a hard crushed rock surface on the first quarter mile for enhanced accessibility

We plan to start work on the trail in Fall 2020 with full completion by Spring 2023. Portions of the trail will likely open sooner as sections are completed.

About the Bolivar Peninsula Nature Trail

Several stakeholder groups including businesses, school districts, a chamber of commerce, and environmental groups worked with the National Park Services Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program to develop resilient nature-based economic activities that would benefit the local communities in a way that would preserve the important coastal wetlands and prairies. The Bolivar Peninsula Nature Trail will be a constellation of nature engagement opportunities. Learn more.

Please stay tuned for volunteer opportunities to help with trail construction and habitat restoration!

Pete Deichmann, Coastal Sanctuaries Manager, Houston Audubon

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