10 Great Dallas Hiking Trails to Explore This Spring

Lace up your boots and hit these underrated hikes in Dallas.

Dallas doesn’t get much credit as a nature destination. And, okay, some of that is deserved. But if you look beyond downtown, uptown, and the city’s thriving dining and nightlife districts, you’ll find scenic lakes, creekside trails, and plenty of shady trees—the perfect recipe for a good stroll.

These are 10 top-notch hikes in Dallas and beyond. We’re skipping a couple of obvious picks like the always bustling White Rock Lake and the Katy Trail, and instead focusing on less-trafficked trails in bird-heavy nature preserves, hardwood forests, and parks. Wear comfortable shoes, bring some water, and enjoy your time outside.

Clocking in at 800 acres, Oak Point is Plano’s largest park. It’s home to eight miles of concrete trails and five miles of soft surface trails that run alongside a creek, and those trails are open from sunrise to sunset each day. If you want to get out on the water after (or instead of) a hike, the pond allows kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding.

Rowlett Creek Preserve has picnic areas and public grills, plus nearly 16 miles of unpaved trails that meander through tight forests and open fields. The choose-your-own-adventure paths are situated in a stacked loop configuration, so you can go for an easy one-mile jaunt or connect the paths into a longer hike. The trails are also popular with mountain bikers, so stay alert, or bring your own bike to cover more ground.

This trail is part of the Trinity River Corridor, and the trailhead is located just south of Bonton Farms. The two-mile dirt path is named for the grove of flowering Buckeye trees that bloom in the spring and greet you near the end of the trail, but the area is also filled with pecans, oaks, and tall grasses that provide plenty to look at as you walk. The dirt path is comfortable when conditions are dry, but rain brings mud and occasionally floods the trail, so keep that in mind before you embark.

Pull into the Cedar Ridge Preserve, and take your pick from the network of 13 trails. None are particularly long—the longest taps out around two miles—but they vary in difficulty and scenery, and it’s easy to string together a handful of trails if you want more mileage. Plot your course, and you can cover hills, hang beside a pond, and visit a butterfly garden, all on the same day. Note that the preserve is closed on Mondays, and the gates lock after sunset, so plan accordingly. There’s a donation box at the entrance of the main trail, which is your chance to bank a little good karma before you begin.

Fun fact: At 6,000 acres, the Great Trinity Forest is the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States. And it’s only 10 minutes south of Downtown Dallas. The Audubon Center is the friendly gateway into the area, with four miles of hiking trails and boardwalks that take you through hardwood forests, wetlands, and prairie habitat. Keep your head on a swivel for birds and other wildlife.

Located southwest of Dallas, Dogwood Canyon sports three short trails that combine to just over three miles, winding through dogwood forests and alongside creeks. There’s a 300-foot elevation gain from the canyon floor to the hilltop, which provides picturesque views of the canyon below. Fall and winter are pleasant seasons for a stroll, but springtime brings an abundance of blooming wildflowers.

This 200-acre park offers a good mix of trails, including three miles of unpaved paths, three miles of paved paths, and another 2.8 miles designated for off-road biking. If you’re visiting for the first time, try taking the Outer Loop Trail, which winds through meadows and forests, with a tributary-adjacent path leading to the scenic Indian Creek. The park keeps long hours and is open from 5 am until 11 pm each day, except for Wednesdays, when morning maintenance pushes the opening back to 2 pm.

The Spring Creek Forest is home to 300-year-old trees and more than 600 species of plants and animals. Between the preserve and green belt, you can cover about a mile of paved walkways and three miles of natural paths, all while viewing dense trees and lush landscapes. Pack provisions, and reward yourself with lunch at one of the park’s picnic tables or pavilions.

This 121-acre stretch of land is situated within Oak Cliff and is just a short drive southwest of the bustling Bishop Arts District. Explore the preserve’s eight miles of hiking and biking trails that connect via multiple loops, cross two creeks, and take you from open fields to secluded woods. Cover as much (or as little) ground as you like, then remember—you’re only 10 minutes away from a great post-hike brunch.

This lakeside spot is a two-fold draw, bringing visitors who just want some time beside the water, and others who want to explore the shaded trails on Lake Grapevine’s north side. The North Shore Trail runs for nearly 23 miles from Rockledge Park to Twin Coves Park, but don’t worry, you can pick and choose sections so you’re not out walking all day. Be sure to keep your head up, as this all-purpose path is one of DFW’s most popular among mountain bikers.

Kevin Gray is a freelance writer and editor covering all things food, drinks, and travel. He’s written for The Dallas Morning NewsForbesLiquor.comMen’s Health, and Wine Enthusiast, and his extensive home bar is turning into a real Hoarders situation.