Expedition to remote Dallas preserve ends on idyllic Bonton Farms lunch
Editor's note: Dallas resident Stacy Breen is an intrepid explorer of local culture with an instinct for making nifty discoveries. During August, she's contributing a weekly column on her visits to North Texas parks. This is her final entry.
Goat Island Preserve is what started my summer 2020 exploration of parks around Dallas. I was at the Lakewood Farmers Market, where I work at the Empire Baking Co. stand selling bread, and this woman came up and was apologizing for being sweaty. She said she'd been hiking in Goat Island, which she said was great "because nobody was there." I said, "Tell me more." My friend and I went down the very next week.
Like Post Oak Preserve in Seagoville, Goat Island is part of the system set up by Dallas County to preserve natural wildnerness areas. The street address is listed as 2800 Post Oak Rd. in Hutchins, and at 2838 Post Oak Rd., in the southeast corner of the county. It's the second-largest preserve in the system.
We took Buckner Road all the way south, it jig-jogs into Dowdy Ferry Road. You pass industrial businesses like composting places and a cement mixing plant; there was a lot of construction in the area.
The name comes from one of two islands located in the Trinity River. It's definitely part of the lower Trinity River area. Some of its trails go right along the river - and in this area, it looks like a real river, not the trickle you see when you cross the bridges downtown.
The main path included a gravel road and what they call a two-track road, a dirt road where one car can go through, with many smaller trails that extend off into densely wooded areas.
One odd thing we noticed was that a lot of the trees seemed to have split trunks, where the tree was split into two trees, but with one base. It seemed like something that native people might have done, for markings? They were older, big trees, and there were enough that it seemed like a deliberate thing.
It had creeks where we saw a lot of run-off, with tires piled up and really weird trash. Large pieces of trash, like a fax machine and a toaster oven, in places too remote for anyone to walk in and dump stuff like that. It seemed like they had to have washed up in a flood.
DORBA in charge
In 2013, the County worked out an arrangement with the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association to maintain the trails; they get high marks for their mowing and helpful identifying markers.
While we were there, we coincidentally ran into Joe Johnson, the assistant trail steward from DORBA. You're not supposed to drive a car on the trail, but he had a key to unlock the gate and had his Forerunner parked on the trail. We figured with that kind of access, he must be someone official.
He told us all about the various trails, and how Goat Island was his passion; that he comes down there all the time, and it's his idea of heaven.
Lunch at Bonton Farms
We'd been wanting to visit Bonton Farms, so we went there for lunch. We arrived in the nick of time, just as they were about to close.
Bonton Farms is the urban farm founded in 2012 by executive director Daron Babcock to restore health and create jobs in South Dallas. Their farmers market, cafe, and coffee house are currently open, but with modified hours and limited capacity due to the coronavirus. They're not allowing indoor seating but they have an outdoor patio, which we had all to ourselves.
We got a dish called egg pie, but it was really a quiche - a most delicious deep-dish quiche, with well cared for vegetables, meaning that they didn't just throw in raw vegetables, but everything was cooked down properly, then put into the quiche so that it was the right amount of doneness after it was baked.
For the crust, they used good butter so that it was nice and flaky. And they heated it in an oven, so that when you got it, the crust was just as crispy as if it were just baked. It was a little more eggy than the heavy-cream style you'd expect from a quiche, which is maybe why they call it an egg pie because it's less custardy. It was the most perfect quiche.
We also got a fried green tomato sandwich, which came with unexpected extras like pimento cheese and arugula.
We sat and had our lunch sitting underneath a shady tree with a misting fan. We got to see people who worked there sitting down for their employee meal. You could just feel what a positive place it was to be.