Carl Frentress Hickory Trail

Carl Frentress served the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for 32 years and was dedicated to conservation in East Texas. He helped to clear the original Hickory Loop trail and establish the arboretum's bog area, which is now home to a species of Texas-native carnivorous pitcher plants. His contributions will live on through the dedication of this natural area.

ATHENS, TX -- The East Texas Arboretum is proud to announce the renaming of the Hickory Loop trail to the Carl D. Frentress Hickory Loop trail. The loop is a rugged one-mile hiking trail located on arboretum grounds.

The trail was named for former Texas Parks and Wildlife wetland and waterfowl biologist and longtime Athens resident Carl Frentress, who was instrumental in developing the arboretum’s natural areas. To commemorate his contributions, two specially chosen slabs of naturally hardened sandstone from the Texas-Arkansas-Oklahoma region adorned with bronze plaques have been placed at each trailhead.

“He was dedicated to conservation -- that’s pretty much what he did,” said his son, Corey Frentress, who was present for the placement of the stones.

Carl Frentress planned and cleared the original Hickory Loop trail in the late 1990s. He also helped to improve the arboretum’s lowlands areas by removing brush and transplanting bog-adapted plants, effectively establishing an open wetland ecosystem.

Frentress passed away in 2019 after serving with TPWD for 32 years.

In an interview with the Conservation History Association of Texas in late 2000, Frentress told David Todd, “...My philosophy of things is that society tends to forget what a natural resource base means to our wellbeing … I say that stewardship of natural resources is a component of citizenship.”

The 100+ acre East Texas Arboretum indeed continues to be a source of wellbeing for people from all over Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the arboretum has managed to remain open throughout while following all city and state guidelines and order.

The arboretum has also released a companion online trail interpretation guide featuring more than 30 educational stations along the route. Stations include information about native tree, plant and fungi species, as well as general information about East Texas ecosystems and geology.

The new guide is the result of collaboration between naturalist Sonnia Hill and biologists Lucy Dueck and Jim Neal.

“Our intent is to further develop the signage along the trail which corresponds with the guide, moving from the small markers there now to larger interactive signs over time, but just having this guide is an amazing and long-needed education tool for the arboretum,” said Board President and Trail Committee chairperson Laura Smith.

The East Texas Arboretum is located at 1601 Patterson Rd. in Athens, TX. For more information about the trail, call (903) 675-5630 or visit our website at

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