As we all know, staying physically active is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A trip to the gym is a part of many people’s daily routine, or at least it used to be. While some have ventured back into the gym upon their opening, many people are still hesitant to return due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. If you have found it difficult to stay physically active, hiking is a great alternative to hitting the gym! Aside from the physical health benefits, according to a Stanford University study, “Spending quality time in the great outdoors reduces stress, calms anxiety, and can lead to a lower risk of depression.” Social distance while you burn a few calories by visiting a few of the best trails the DFW area has to offer.
1. White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake is located in the Northeast section of Dallas, just minutes from SMU, Oak Lawn, and Uptown areas. According to the Dallas Parks and Recreation website, “White Rock Lake is a 1,015-acre city lake located approximately 5 miles northeast of downtown Dallas. White Rock is one of the most heavily used parks in the Dallas Park system and is the location of many special events and runs.”
White Rock Lake has been touted as one of the “best places to experience natural areas and wildlife in an urban setting.” This park features a 9.33 miles hike and bike trail, picnic areas, a dog park, piers, and boat ramps for water-lovers. White Rock Lake is also home to some of Dallas’ best attractions such as the Dallas Arboretum and the Bath House Cultural Center.
2. Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
According to their website, Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is “located on the western border of Plano.” This park is 200-acres in total and “features vast areas of natural beauty for walking, jogging, hiking, orienteering, and other outdoor activity.” One unique quality of Arbor Hills is its observation tower which offers city views in beautiful surroundings.
Arbor Hills offers a variety of amenities for its visitors. The preserve has approximately 3 miles of paved recreational trails, 3 additional miles of natural terrain trails for more advanced hikers, and roughly 2.8 miles of cycling trails. The park has three different pavilions which can be reserved in advance. However, despite some of these more urban amenities, the park does urge to be mindful of wildlife and prohibits the use of any motorized vehicles, longboards, or skateboards.
3. North Shore Trail
North Shore Trail boasts approximately 10 miles of trails from Rockledge Park to Twin Coves Park on the north side of Lake Grapevine. There is a fee to begin the journey at Rockledge Park, but you are able to enter on the trail for free from Murrell Park. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also welcome on this trail but are required to remain on leash at all times.
According to the team at Lake Grapevine, North Shore Trail offers “moderately difficult terrain and beautiful views from the cliffs and shores of the lake.” This trail is open to both hikers and bikers so please be cautious of those around you and do your best to avoid any pedestrian-biker traffic accidents!
4. Katy Trail
The Katy Trail is a beautiful greenbelt within Downtown Dallas and offers a nice getaway for nearby residents and visitors, alike. Enjoy stepping away from the hustle and bustle of city life to explore the walking and running trails stretching from SMU to the Arts District! Explore their map coverage here.
The Katy Trail is unique due to its rich history and large size despite its urban location. The trail rests on what was once a historic railroad line, known as the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (also called the K-T and eventually the Katy). After years of abandonment, the Katy Trail was established in 2000.
In 2016, the City of Dallas begun a project to connect the Katy Trail with other local trails and preserve areas. This has led to a new length of the trail between Worcola and the White Rock Station as well as from Glencoe Park to Worcola. Another exciting advance has been the implementation of paved walkways from Twin Sixties along the DART tracks to SMU Boulevard. This allows for increased mobility downtown for urban explorers and pedestrians!
5. Cedar Ridge Preserve
Cedar Ridge Preserve has 13 different mapped trails on the preserve grounds. They vary in length, difficulty, and types of terrain. One of their most kid-friendly trails is the Little Bluestem Trail which begins near the Butterfly Garden. For more advanced hikers, try the Escarpment Trail, the Cattail Pond Trail, or the Cedar Brake Trail for scenic overlooks.
This preserve is maintained by a group called Audobon Dallas. According to their website, “Audubon Dallas is a nonprofit organization, and relies on donations and volunteers to help maintain Cedar Ridge Preserve.” They have posted donation boxes on-site and there is a link to donate online!
Download their PDF of Trail profiles to learn all about which trail is best suited for you!
Stay Safe Out There!
Due to the continuing threat of COVID-19, please do your part (even when outdoors) to reduce the spread of disease. Follow these guidelines to keep you, your loved ones, and your fellow community members in the best health possible:
• Do not visit a busy trail or preserve if you are feeling ill.
• Follow safe behavior guidelines, as set forth by the CDC.
• Maintain recommended social distancing while you are out and about.
• Be prepared for limited access to the public restrooms.
• Bring your own water bottle and refrain from touching the public drinking fountains.
• If there are large crowds at your time of visit, consider going home or to another trail location and coming back another time.
Adapting to the “new normal” can be difficult but not impossible. While there are several activities that do not comply with social distancing restrictions, we encourage you to try activities such as hiking to remain physically active. Are there any must-visit trails that we missed? Let us know on Instagram and Facebook!