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Outdoorsy types benefit from flurry of activity around Dallas city trails

Outdoorsy types benefit from flurry of activity around city trails

Life keeps getting better in Dallas for runners, bicyclists, and nature fans seeking places to enjoy trees, grass, and water. The city's urban hike and bike trails, a network webbed throughout the city, are becoming an increasingly popular amenity — and that's reflected in a flurry of development activity, including one trail receiving an infusion of cash and another ready to celebrate its "premiere."

The trail system can seem like a complicated morass, with various segments having their own names and, if they're lucky, support group. The one everyone knows best is the Katy Trail, visible not only because it runs through one of the most densely populated parts of Dallas, but also because its advocacy group, Friends of The Katy Trail, has become a role model for its active role in maintenance and fundraising.

Some of the more exciting developments are occurring at the north and south ends of the Katy Trail.

Trinity Strand Trail
The Trinity Strand Trail is the up-and-comer, located at the southern tip of the Katy Trail, and it's about to debut its first segment, a 2.5-mile portion that's paved with concrete. Eventually it will be a 7.8-mile hike and bike trail that runs along the original Trinity River watercourse.

This trail will connect the Katy Trail to the Trinity River and also provide access to the Southwestern Medical District, Dallas Market Center, downtown and Uptown Dallas, Stemmons Corridor businesses, and the Dallas Design District. When finished, it will connect more than 73 miles of trail.

There's also an accompanying soft-surface trail "paved" with crushed granite that'll take a more undulating course. Trinity Strand Trail director Shelly White says this has been a long time in the making. The concrete for the 2.5-mile segment was laid a year ago, and although her organization is celebrating its readiness, it's not officially open until the city gives it the thumbs-up.

"The group spearheading this originally formed in 2002," she says. "The Trinity Strand Trail is going into where the abandoned river channel was in the Design District. They had the huge flood in 1908 and built the levees and moved the river, so the trail runs along the old Trinity River channel. It'll eventually go up into the Medical District. The easiest way to explain it is to say it's going along the route of the DART Rail Green line."

White says she's excited by the increasing enthusiasm for Dallas' trails. "I've been with project for seven years, and to see the change in what the city and its residents are doing is huge," she says.

Trinity Forest trails
In fall 2015, work begins on a 7-mile stretch of trail connecting Dowdy Ferry Road in southern Dallas to Cedar Creek (near Moore Park) in Oak Cliff. This will be a hard-surface trail, some of which is part of the Trinity Forest Spine Trail, and some of which connects to the Trinity Skyline Trail. It is anticipated to be complete in three years.

The folks behind this are the Trinity Trust Foundation, so it's well funded: More than $13 million in public and private funds are being invested to create this new trail and to control erosion along the river banks. Of that amount, about $7 million is going toward the trail alone.

The Trinity Trust Foundation focuses in particular on the Trinity Forest Spine Trail, a 17.5-mile length that runs from the Trinity River Audubon Center to the Dallas Arboretum, from White Rock Lake down to I-20; a section of this trail is the AT&T Trail. 

Katy Trail Phase VI
After seemingly centuries in the making, the Dallas City Council signed off on contracts with engineering firm HNTB and Rebcon Inc. to oversee and build the concrete trail and pedestrian bridges for the Katy Trail Phase VI project from Ellsworth Avenue to Worcola Street. The bridge will cross Mockingbird Lane and connect the Katy Trail to the Mockingbird DART station, and in the longer view, connect to White Rock Lake.

If it seems like a lot of bits and pieces, it still represents connectivity happening as it never has, says Robin Baldock, director of Friends of Katy Trail.

"For us, it means being part of a connection that extends from the Design District to White Rock Lake," she says.

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Trinity Strand World Premiere takes place Saturday, September 19, 1-4 pm, at 2451 N. Stemmons Fwy. Expect food truck, beer from Community, and music.

Katy Trail in Dallas
Katy Trail is Dallas' most famous trail that runs through the city's most densely populated area. Photo courtesy of David Rolston Landscape Architects
Trinity Strand Trail
The new Trinity Strand Trail will celebrate its long-awaited premiere. Photo courtesy of Trinity Strand