After a long winter, spring will soon be here to stay (we hope). That means it’s time to trade in your wool-lined boots for some hiking ones. Yes, Austin and the Hill Country are only a day trip away. But with options like these, there’s no need to leave Dallas to get your outdoor fix.
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
Plano’s hidden gem offers three trails for hiking and off-road biking, as well as water fountains and restrooms onsite. The park features three distinct ecoregions: Upland Forest, Blackland Prairie and Riparian Forest, so you'll surely take in some varied wildlife. For a bird's-eye view, check out the observation deck accessible via the Tower Trail.
Bachman Lake Trail
There aren’t many places where you can race a commercial jet, but Bachman Lake is one of them. This hike and bike trail runs for about 3 miles in the flight path of Dallas Love Field airport. It’s paved, which can be a blessing and a curse, and offers a steady stream of 16 exercise stations along the course. With ducks and geese populating the park, as well as a playground, Bachman Lake is as suited to a hardcore workout as it is to a family stroll.
Campion Trail Network
The Campion Trail Network is more biker- than hiker-friendly, because its best paths are 12 feet wide and cemented. It’s not exactly the most adventurous route to tackle on foot, but it’s well-maintained and stretches for 22 miles from Irving to nearly 635. For now, only 5.3 miles of trails are open to the public. Restroom and water facilities range from extremely limited to nonexistent, depending on the trail, so plan accordingly.
Cedar Ridge Preserve
The only equipment allowed at Cedar Ridge Preserve are your own two legs. But that’s okay. With 600 acres, 10 miles of trails, butterfly gardens and picnic areas, there is plenty to keep you entertained. Run by Audubon Dallas since 2003, Cedar Ridge Preserve is about 20 miles outside of Dallas and offers an elevation of 755 feet. The preserve is not meant for large groups, but its picnic areas are family-friendly and clean.
Isle Du Bois Unit Trails
With more than 13 miles worth of trails, the Isle du Bois Unit of Ray Roberts Lake State Park is a great place to bike or hike. The unpaved trails are a nature lover’s dream and offer great lake views. As the trail system is part of a state park, all users must pay a fee of $5 per person, per day. Horseback riding is also allowed on the trails, and hikers and bikers should yield to equine traffic.
Stretching 3.5 miles from American Airlines Center to the edge of SMU, the Katy Trail is a popular, paved hike-and-bike path in the heart of Dallas. In the spring, the trail hosts a well-attended 5K. The Katy Trail is beloved by all age groups and attracts everyone from families to hardcore runners. It’s also the only trail on our list that has its own ice house.
The Northaven Trail is one of the newest additions to the Dallas hike-and-bike scene. Paved and 12 feet wide, it is both a commuter trail and a recreational one. It runs along the Oncor easement in North Dallas between Northaven Road and Royal Lane. The master plan extends the trail all the way from North Central Expressway to Denton Drive.
Trinity River Audubon Center
Located just 20 minutes south of downtown Dallas, the Trinity River Audubon Center has plenty of flora and fauna to keep your trip interesting. Trails wander through the wetlands, prairie and forest. The scenic overlook trail, as the name suggests, is the one with the best view. Biking is not allowed on the trails, which are strictly for hiking.
Trinity River Mountain Creek Preserve
The Trinity River Mountain Creek Preserve is a 4-mile, hard-surface trail in South Irving. It was one of the first preserves in Dallas County and offers parking, a picnic area with public grills and a playground. Hiking and biking are encouraged, but motorized vehicles are prohibited on the trail.
White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake is more than just a body of water. It’s a gathering place for friends and families that includes a museum, kayaking and rowing rentals, and a fishing pier. There’s a 9.3-mile trail around the lake where bikes, strollers and runners are welcome. The route is outfitted with water fountains, benches and loads of lookout points. Anyway you slice it, White Rock Lake is the place to be.