Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, Cedar Hill

 This is our 3rd year to participate in the Texas Nature Challenge.  We have had a great time each year, learned about many new places, and met so many new friends!

 A Little Bit About the Texas Nature Challenge

The TNC is held throughout Texas, and you sign up for your specific region.  Each region has specific challenges you must complete, held at different locations.  All of the challenges are age specific, so any age can compete.  Although it’s not really a competition.  There are recognitions for the teams completing the most challenges, best scrapbook, etc, but it’s all for fun!

Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center at Cedar Hill

For our first Nature Challenge, we visited DCAC in near to us Cedar Hill.  The day we visited was  Free First Thursday, when the center has special events scheduled and, as the name implies, it’s free.
We completed our challenge, which was to pick up trash around the picnic area.  This may not sound like fun to some kids, but my 12 year old LOVES to go to park and river clean ups.  He begs us to “adopt a street”, so he can keep it clean ALL THE TIME.  By the way, his same concern is NOT extended to his bedroom!

We then spent some time in the AIR CONDITIONED nature center. Some of the special events they had planned were guided hikes in the canyon, animal encounters and a craft project.  The nature center shows a wide assortment of things you can find in the canyon. This was a great way for us to identify some of the things we found during our hike!

A neat terrarium they have in the nature center.  My daughter pointed out that it’s the same container we keep sugar in at home. Now that she has the idea, I think I’ll have to keep an eye on what’s living/growing in my sugar bowl!

During the guided hike, we learned some interesting things….

See the conical pits in the loose soil?  These are the traps of larva antlions.

They sit just underground, waiting on a hapless ant to walk along and fall in, then they quickly emerge and invite them… for dinner!

We watched for a bit, hoping to see one of the antlions emerge, or better yet, an ant get trapped or attacked.  What, you feel sorry for ants?

The nice thing about the trail is that almost all of it is in the shade.  The bad thing is that my poor photography skills are handicapped much more by lack of proper lighting.  But then, my river of sweat isn’t blocking the lens, either.

Our guides are demonstrating to us the proper technique to roll a log.  What?  You don’t know the proper technique?

Roll the log TOWARD you, so that whatever might be hiding/living/sleeping under the log has an escape path AWAY from you.  This seems important to me.

This is a large juniper trees growing at the DCAC.  The junipers are important because of their significance to the endangered Golden Cheeked Warbler.  These Texas birds, who do not breed outside of the state, will only nest in these trees, tearing strips of bark for it’s nest.  While these trees are numerous in the hill country and central regions of Texas, the area around DCAC is one of the few in N. Texas where the trees grow and these birds can be found.


We had great guides that told us so much of the history and ecology of the canyon.

Thanks, DCAC!!

To read about our last visit to DCAC;

Uptown Village at Cedar Hill

After our hike and clean up, we cooled off at Uptown Village at Cedar Hill’s spray park.