Katy Trail? Too crowded. White Rock Lake Trail? Been there, done that. Dallas is supremely unique, so do something different and explore one of these seven trails this summer.
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center
Distance: 1-2 2/3 miles
Located about 16mi south of Dallas in Cedar Hill, Dogwood Canyon resembles a scene from Jurassic Park more than it does Dallas. That’s probably because it’s a true canyon with a 300ft rise from canyon floor to hilltop. Yes, there are actual canyons in Dallas. Expect to see some exotic and rare birds and plants on this trail, especially the Black-chinned Hummingbird of West Texas. Thankfully, there are no actual dinosaurs here, so you can be sure you won’t end up like Newman from Seinfeld if you go off the beaten path.
Oak Point Nature Preserve
Distance: 7.9-mile loop
Just north of Dallas in Plano, Oak Point Nature Preserve is one of the few remnants of the Blackland Prairie. Those remnants include venomous snakes, foxes, opossums, and other creatures... so prepare accordingly. On the upside, there is plenty of bird-watching, rare plant-sighting, and beautiful overall scenery in the heart of this popular suburb. Dogs are also allowed, so, in case you DO run into some unruly characters, your best friend can always protect you.
North Shore Trail
Distance: 12 miles
The biggest draw here is the lake, so go when the sun is setting and marvel it in all its Texas-sized beauty. Be aware that this trail is a popular spot for bikers, so make sure to take proper precautions. You can take solace in the fact that these are not the kind of bikers that have shootouts in Waco, Texas -- just ones in helmets and tights. Although, don’t underestimate them, when traveling downhill at 20mph they can be even more dangerous. Basically, be safe, kids.
Oak Cliff Nature Preserve (OCNP)
Distance: 7.8-mile loop
When the daily grind gets you down don’t drown your sorrows in a beer at happy hour, instead, head a few minutes south to this 121-acre urban nature preserve, located in Oak Cliff. This trail crosses two creeks with a variety of open fields and scenic wooded areas. Your liver and wallet will thank you, your legs maybe not.
Harry Moss Trail
Distance: 5.5 mile-loop
There’s a river in this Dallas trail, which makes for some great scenery... and also, lots of mosquitos. As long as you’re prepared, you’ll be fine. The copperhead snakes, on the other hand... they're a different story. But hey, if you want safety, you can be a mall-walker. Hiking is for nature lovers and this trail provides plenty of it, over five miles to be exact. But seriously, snakebites aren’t cool unless you’re ordering a shot, so take proper precautions to avoid an Oregon Trail-esque status update on your Facebook.
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Mountain
Distance: 2.2-mile loop
Yet another suburban oasis located in Plano with over 200 lush acres of Blackland Prairie terrain. There are several small creeks, twists, and turns that make you feel like you’re in another country, not one of the most popular suburbs in America. The trail and sight-seeing here are great, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a bobcat in its natural habitat. If you’re looking for a cougar, however, you’ll have better luck at the Shops at Legacy in Plano on a Saturday night. Easy tiger.
Big Cedar Wilderness Trails
Distance: 13-mile loop
This trail lies just southwest of Dallas, located atop one of the most enchanting escarpment areas in North Texas and highest elevation in the city of Dallas, Prayer Mountain. The trail winds and twists through cedar and hardwood forest, then quickly descends into a valley with a dramatic elevation change. Needless to say, expect lots of sight-seeing and also a lot of bikers. While you’re on Prayer Mountain, go ahead and say a prayer -- just don’t get crazy and involve any rattlesnakes.
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