Off-Road Adventure

A beginner's guide to Dallas-Fort Worth's 12 best bike trails

A beginner's guide to Dallas-Fort Worth's 12 best bike trails

People on bikes on Katy Trail in Dallas
The 3.5-mike Katy Trail makes for a leisurely ride. Photo via DallasParks.org

Hiking is great and jogging is fine, but sometimes only a bike ride will do. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has plenty from which to pick, spanning everything from easier paved loops to tougher off-road trails. Here are some of our favorites.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
Where: Plano
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
In the know: Arbor Hills lets bikers have the best of both worlds. This 200-acre park has about 3 miles of paved trails and 2.8 miles of off-road trails. The diverse animal and plant life that call the park home might convince you that you're far away from civilization, even though the park is only about a mile from the Dallas North Tollway.

Cedar Hill State Park
Where: South Dallas
Difficulty: Difficult
In the know: Serious bikers can log 23 miles at the DORBA trails within the 1,800-acre Cedar Hill State Park. These trails were created by mountain bikers, so you know they’re adventurous. The three consecutive trails range from 3 miles to 12 miles and all share path access with hikers (read: be careful on those sharp turns). There is a cost of $7 per adult per day.

Frisco Mountain Bike Trail
Where: Frisco
Difficulty: Easy to difficult
In the know: Also called the Northwest Community Park Trail (for the park in which it begins), this off-road trail includes four connected trails that run a total of 8.1 miles. The outer-most trail, Ranger Loop, is flat and mostly straightaways, making it friendly for kids and beginners. The Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association maintains the trail, meaning it’s usually in tip-top condition, unless a recent rain storm has left it muddy.

Gateway Park
Where: Fort Worth
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
In the know: Smooth terrain makes Gateway Park ideal for beginners and straight, open trails make the park even better for those who want to build up some speed. The 3.5-mile loop on the west side of the Trinity River is relatively flat, while hills scatter the eastern 5-mile loop.

Harry Moss Park
Where: North Dallas
Difficulty: Moderate
In the know: Five connected loops make up this 5.5-mile trail at Walnut Hill Lane and Greenville Avenue. Plenty of trees make for tight twists and turns on some trails, though the yellow bypass and black and red loops are not strenuous. Switchbacks on the purple and orange trails are for the more advanced bikers. Enter the trail through the Buckeye Beverage parking lot.

Katy Trail
Where: Central Dallas 
Difficulty: Easy
In the know: Katy Trail is the ideal bike path for those who like to ride with a purpose. Start at the northernmost entry at Dedo’s Place near SMU and ride just east of Cedar Springs Road to Katy Trail Ice House, where you can sit on the shady patio and knock back a summer beer or an iced tea before riding back. The entire trail runs 3.5 miles.

Oak Cliff Nature Preserve
Where: South Dallas
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
In the know: You don’t have to go far into the 8 miles of trails at Oak Cliff Nature Preserve to feel secluded from city life. The scenery within the six hiking and biking loops ranges from open fields to wooded forest. Several water crossings make off-road biking more fun — albeit muddier. 

Northshore Trail
Where: Flower Mound
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
In the know: Park in the center of the trails at MADD Shelter, just north of Lake Grapevine, and take any of the seven loops that span 23 miles. The loops are labeled by level of difficulty, meaning Loop 1 is the easiest and Loop 7 is the most challenging. DORBA also maintains this trail, but check Facebook to see if the trail is closed due to weather or debris in the pathways.  

River Legacy Park
Where: Arlington
Difficulty: Easy to difficult
In the know: The 10 miles of biking here are worth it for the lookouts alone. Parts of the trail within the 1,300-acre park are concrete, but several miles of off-road trails exist along the river bank and surrounding Lake Viridian.

Santa Fe Trail
Where: East Dallas 
Difficulty: Easy
In the know: Santa Fe Trail is best enjoyed in conjunction with a ride around White Rock, as this trail connects the lake to Deep Ellum. Meet up with this trail just north of Gaston Avenue and Garland Road and take it down to Deep Ellum, where you’ll have your pick of restaurants and watering holes when it's time to refuel. Just remember to take it easy on the food and drinks, because you’ll still have to bike back.

Trinity Trails
Where: Fort Worth
Difficulty: Easy
In the know: If you only know of one trail system in DFW, it might be Trinity Trails. These 40 miles serve as a central artery and connect with many other trails throughout the city. Start at a popular trail head such as the Fort Worth Botanic Garden or Log Cabin Village, or park at the quieter Trinity Strand Trail.

White Rock Lake Park Trail 
Where: East Dallas 
Difficulty: Easy​
In the know: It’s tough to own a bike in Dallas and not make White Rock Lake one of your usual stomping, er, riding grounds. The toughest part of this 9.4-mile trail is keeping your eyes on the road instead of on the scenic lake. Bikers and pedestrians share the path at here, so keep a close eye out for others and be considerate. If you’re not taking the whole loop, park on the north side around the dog park or White Rock Paddle Co., and bike the east side, which gives you a killer view of downtown.