PALESTINE — Sometimes, one may need to get away from it all, and a weekend in the heart of nature could provide the perfect avenue to do so.
In season with the 76th Annual Dogwood Trails Celebration, nature lovers are invited to come out this weekend to camp, take pictures, tour the lush, wooded landscape and visit with new acquaintances at the 480-acre Ivy Payne Wildlife Refuge near Elkhart.
The refuge will be open at 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday afternoon and is located at the end of Anderson County Road 134.
Nature tours through the hills and bottomlands of Parker Creek will start at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. Sunday, led by East Texas Naturalist Dr. Heinz Gaylord.
The retired Stephen F. Austin professor “can name every plant in East Texas,” according to Dr. Earl Matthew, stewardship chairman of the property.
There also will be a potluck supper Saturday night and a photo presentation of fauna and flora of the refuge. The property is equipped with a covered pavilion, two full bathrooms and a kitchen for common use.
Camping is primitive in woods adjacent to the covered pavilion. Small RV’s can be accommodated, though RV hookups and generators cannot be used.
Matthew said visitors may want to use the refuge as a home base to participate in other Dogwood Festival events.
“If people want to just come camp there and do some of our tours and then do some of the events, they're welcome to do so,” he said. “It's just an opportunity for our land trust property to be open to the public and be utilized. What usually happens, we'll take a walking tour in the morning and then by afternoon people know the property well enough they can sort of go out on their own if they'd like.”