Holly Lake Ranch at North East of Texas
Holly Lake Ranch is a gated community at north east of Texas. As the name suggests it is located around Holly Lake and comprises of condos and log cabins of Silverleaf resort as well as privately owned properties by vacationers and retirees. The place is blessed with rich flora and fauna and the pinewoods of this region consists of trees, shrubs, woody vines, and herbaceous vegetation. Pine forest ecosystems dominates much of the landscape with few hardwoods such as oaks, elms, hickories, pecan, black walnut, tupelo, sweetgum, and others.
Shortleaf, longleaf, and loblolly pine are the three native species of southern yellow pine, but one can find other species of pines such as slash pine here. The green sub-tropical look makes this place an ideal destination for outings, watersports, hiking and relaxation. The forest keeps the temperature low and water levels are moderate.
Silverleaf's Holly Lake Ranch,drivable from Austin within 4 to 5 hours, a bit north of Texas proved to be the best option for vacation. Month of July is generally tough in terms of weather. Temperature between 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 38 degrees Celsius) in US is really intimidating.With the abundance of pine trees and some of the most picturesque land to walk around, this was our ideal destination.
Driving initially on I-35 wasn't that happy experience, but as we got on to I-31, it was real fun. Absence of traffic, lovely farm fields with lots of greenery, dotted with tiny towns made my driving experience much enjoyable. The trees kept rising in height and from the land of oks and cedars to the tall thick pines, it was a wonderful transition.
260 miles of drive from Austin and we were in this beautiful island of greenery and tranquility. This resort is a huge property spread on both sides of FM 2869. The wooden log cabins in the midst of thickly wooded pine trees made this resort a desirable experience. You really get that feel of staying in the forest while having all the modern amenities around.
Apart from the thickness of pine trees, this place is also blessed with two major lakes the Green Barrier and the Holly Lake. There are several hiking trails around this area, like Waterfall Trail, Creekside Trail, Forest Trail and "No Name" Trail. The activity center is well equipped for sports and games. Mini-golf, fishing, swimming, video games, table tennis, paddling, canoeing are few of the top picks. You can rent kids games and books as well and a movie theater showcases some of our favorite movies.
Green Barrier Lake is much huge is size and is surrounded by mostly privately owned cute houses having their boat garages. Speed boating seemed to be a favorite sport here.
Holly Lake has several activities like paddle boating and canoeing. Paddling here is awesome and comparatively quite comfortable. The boats are well designed to make sure you exert minimum efforts while paddling, as you sit in an upright position and enjoy the scenic shoreline. You would eventually feel jealous of all the owners having their beautiful villas and boat garages around the shoreline.
The waterfall trail is a short 20-minute hike around Holly Lake. A stream of water from the Holly Lake gushes through the narrow stream in the midst of thick forest and is a nice spot to spend some time at. This hike is family friendly and quite scenic.
It’s really peaceful also to ride around in your car or a golf cart,in this area along the narrow roads zig zagging across the thick forest,while watching the beautiful homes.
The Caldwell Zoo is a promising family experience, about 40 minutes’ distance from Holly Lake Ranch. With the tigers,bisons, lions, giraffes and zebras they have covered most of the East Africa, North America and South America. The feeding of parakeets was an awesome experience. One can get into this huge cage and feed these colorful cute birds, using feeding sticks available near the cage.
The zoo can be covered in around two hour’s times, but we really loved the zoo and spent almost three hours as my two-year-old son was more than excited to watch those animals. I loved watching the white tiger, an elegant lion and zebras. But the Texas long horn takes a prominent place here.
The Zoo has number of varieties of some of the most exotic animal’s right from flamingos to ostrich and from penguins to macaws. The dark pink scarlet Ibis were very attractive and took lot of attention.
The turtles, rhinos, alligator where hard to spot, while the two leopards were resting in their cage. An anteater strolled around the cage while squirrel monkeys looked really cute.
The route from Holly Lake to Caldwell zoo is extremely scenic with pine woods lining up along the road. The road is no less than a roller coaster with a number of deep up and down portions on the road. the road going up and down across the hills neatly lines up with the surrounding forest.
A little detour to the State park of Tyler was a nice adventure for us. The park is quite well spread and arboreous, with wooden cabins in the mid of forest. We had our late lunch at one of the benches near those cabins and that was the most fantastic experience.
A cute little racoon, smelling the food, came out of the bushes with expecting eyes. He enjoyed our rice and butter chicken with delight and kept looking for more. Spotting a wild animal in their natural habitat is always a great bliss with no guilt of seeing those cage around them.
The thick forest, nobody around, with hardly any car on the road was a thrilling experience. The quiet and peace of the woods, the cool breeze and the greenery makes you feel relaxed and calm.
Tiger Creek is another great spot in the vicinity of Holly Lake Ranch. It’s great to see a wide range of these big cats at one place. I can't imagine seeing Siberian tigers along with African lions and Bengal tigers at one place. Some of them probably rescued from the mafia lords from South America. The self-guided tour is $12 per person while a guided tour was $25 per person.
Do you know approximately how many wild cats call Tiger Creek their home?
The Bengal tigers were prominent with few Siberian tigers, puma, bob cats, African lions and a white tiger. The rescue center is spread across the area of 25 acres. This is a privately owned tiger rescue center with each animal having his own story. Tiger Creek is a result of Brian Werner and his family’s efforts to recognize and save tiger’s in captivity and provide a home for them.
It took 25 minutes from Holly Lake ranch to reach this place. Again being a family adventure, this tour complimented our Caldwell zoo exploration the day earlier. This can be a one hour to one and half hour tour. Make sure you get there early when the rescue center opens for the tours around 10 am in the morning, as when the temperature starts rising, these big cats start hiding away in their private corners.
Hawkins Lake RV Park was a pleasant surprise with a white sandy protected beach nestled in the pine woods just twenty minutes’ drive from Holly Lake Ranch. The lake has a wooded surroundings with a beautiful shoreline, a perfect destination for evening activities like swimming, fishing, kayaking and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the lake.
The sandy beach is manmade and really cute. If you are visiting this place, make sure to carry all your swimming gear as the water is absolutely tempting and you have showers as well to get rid of all that sand on you.