Dallas is much more than a metropolis. From the Guadalupe Mountains to El Capitan, Dallas is littered with areas of natural beauty, its awe-inspiring scenery drawing hikers from all over the country. From Lemmon Lake to the Texas Buckeye Trail, we look at some of the best hiking spots in Dallas.
1. Piedmont Ridge Trail
This 1.3-mile trail is popular with locals and visitors alike and is generally considered a moderate hike. The area is popular with dog walkers, although canines must stay on a leash. The trail features a steep incline that may be challenging for small children.
Piedmont Ridge offers stunning views across Great Trinity Forest, particularly during the fall, when pecans, walnut and ash trees are a blaze of orange and red.
2. Dogwood Canyon
Dogwood Canyon features more than 2 miles of trails through the forested canyon. For beginners, the Canyon Floor Trail is a shorter hike. Visitors can wander through forests dripping in Virginia Creepers and look out for endemic bird species such as the yellow-bellied sapsucker.
The West Loop Trail, which offers a more taxing hike, is generally rated as moderate to difficult. The 1.65-mile hike has a steep incline from the start, providing spectacular panoramic views from the high points. Rare birds are sometimes spotted soaring over the canyon, such as the red-tailed hawk and the turkey vulture.
3. Lower Wetland Cells
The lower chain of wetlands comprises six separate cells abutting the Trinity River. The area is open and easy to negotiate outside of the rainy season.
Here visitors can watch water birds, with the stunning Dallas skyline as a backdrop. Gravel and dirt trails are easy to follow. Kestrels are frequently spotted in the area, as well as white pelicans.
4. Arbor Hills
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve lies on the western border of Plano. Encompassing 200 acres of scenic pasture land, the nature preserve has an observation tower that offers spectacular views of downtown Dallas.
Arbor Hills operates an interpretive trail marker system to help visitors learn more about the park. There are many markers interspersed throughout the area highlighting specific points of interest and providing details on endemic wildlife and plants.
During extremely wet periods, park rangers close the natural surface trails to prevent soil erosion and trail damage.
5. Texas Buckeye
This trail is named after the Texas Buckeye trees that drip with white blossoms every spring. The North Texas Master Naturalists maintain the trail, which features picturesque arbors fashioned from branches and native materials.
The Texas Buckeye Trail climaxes with a stand of Texas buckeye trees that offer impressive views of the river. There are large boulders for hikers to sit on and take in the view, as well as signage to guide hikers safely down to the water’s edge.
6. Spring Creek Forest
This dog-friendly nature preserve covers 2.3 miles of loop trail near the town of Richardson. Spring Creek Forest has trails to suit hikers of all abilities, including wheelchair- and stroller-friendly trails.
Popular with dog walkers and bikers, the nature preserve offers opportunities to see a range of wildlife, with the occasional bobcat spotted.
7. Oak Cliff Nature Preserve
Oak Cliff Nature Preserve encompasses 6.5 miles of moderately trafficked loop trail that is accessible year-round. It is important to stay on the trail, as it is quite easy to become lost in wooded areas. Dogs are welcome, but must be leashed.
The mild elevation changes throughout, offering visitors some incredible scenery. Located not far from downtown Dallas, Oak Cliff is popular with bikers and birdwatchers.
8. Cedar Ridge Preserve
The Dallas Audubon Society maintains Cedar Ridge Preserve, a national park that features a 755-foot elevation. Located only 20 minutes away from downtown Dallas, Cedar Ridge Preserve is a 600-acre national park that features approximately 9 miles of trails. Visitors can wander beneath towering native trees and through pastures strewn with local wildflowers and grasses, where they can view an array of wildlife.
Featuring picnic areas and butterfly gardens, Cedar Ridge Preserve is popular with birdwatchers all year round. They can view see rare species such as the black-capped vireo.
9. Lemmon Lake
Tucked within Dallas’s Joppa Preserve lies Lemmon Lake. The diverse landscape is in constant flux, filling and drying according to cycles of rain and drought.
Lemmon Lake is rich with a diverse range of wildlife. The area, which is well known for its fishing, attracts many local anglers. Similarly, birdwatchers frequent the area, looking out for double-crested cormorants, great egrets, northern mockingbirds, black vultures, and downy woodpeckers.
The Trinity River Trail features the longest paved path in the Great Trinity Forest. It traverses the Millermore Plantation, which was once home to the Miller family, whose original cabin and later Greek revival mansion still stand in Old City Park.
Since alligators frequent Lemmon Lake, visitors must be vigilant at all times, particularly from dawn to dusk. The area, which is a popular filming location, was the backdrop to the Texas Range scene in the film Bonnie and Clyde.