Imagine a sea of grass stretching all around you from horizon to horizon, waves of wind blowing through it like waves on the ocean. It’s spring, and there are wildflowers of every hue “floating” in this sea. A herd of more than 700 bison is plying the waves below your vantage point on a hilltop. The bison are certainly not alone—the area is rich with wildlife: prairie chickens, elk, white-tailed deer, gray wolves, black bears, pocket gophers, prairie kingsnakes, upland sandpipers, dickcissels, and many others live here, too. Up to 200 species of grasses and wildflowers are found in a typical acre.
It’s hard to imagine now, but this was the Blackland Prairie of Texas 200 years ago. An early settler in nearby Grayson County described the scene in this way: “I can sit on the porch before my door and see miles of the most beautiful prairie interwoven with groves of timber, surpassing, in my idea, the beauties of the sea. Think of seeing a tract of land on a slight incline covered with flowers and rich meadow grass for 12 to 20 miles.” (John Brooke, 1849)
“My horse could scarcely make his way through the wilderness of flowers, and I for a time remained lost in admiration of this scene of extraordinary beauty. The prairie in the distance looked as if clothed in rainbows that waved to and fro over its surface.” (author Charles Sealsfield in the Texas Blackland Prairie, 1843).
The rich Blackland Prairie ecosystem is largely gone now. Of the original 12 million acres, less than one tenth of one percent remains after more than 150 years of agriculture and improper grazing, followed by suburban sprawl. Much of LLELA contains Blackland soils, and we are working to restore this rare ecosystem.
Visit our Trails page to see which route will take you to prairie views.