Best Hikes Near Dallas/Fort Worth  by Kathryn Hopper

Best Hikes Near Dallas/Fort Worth Guide Book

by Kathryn Hopper (Falcon Guides)
Best Hikes Near Dallas/Fort Worth  by Kathryn Hopper
Who says you have to travel far from home to go on a great hike? Here you’ll find forty of the best hikes within an hour’s drive of the Dallas/Fort Worth area—from the remote grasslands of Parkhill Prairie in northeast Collin County to the rocky limestone peaks that ring Dinosaur Valley near Glen Rose. Whether you’re in the mood for an easy nature walk, a day-long hike, or an overnighter, this guide offers plenty to choose from, including: White Rock Lake, Katy Trail, North Shore Trail, Lake Ray Roberts, Fort Worth Nature Center and Trinity Trails.

© 2011 Kathryn Hopper/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes Near Dallas/Fort Worth" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 37.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 37.

Popular with families, scout troops, hikers, and geocachers, this paved trail winds uphill through woods and Blackland Prairie culminating in a hilltop view of surrounding Plano before looping back to the trailhead. Located in West Plano, the 200-acre park’s 2.7 miles of trails and its late operating hours make it a popular destination for night hikers.
Dallas, TX - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
This short loop through woods, fields, and wetlands is ideal for families with small children. The adjacent nature center features hands-on exhibits, educational programs, and a gift shop. While less than a mile, the trail manages to cover a diverse array of ecosystems including grassy prairie and Cross Timbers woodlands as well as a small pond that draws animals, including wild turkeys, raccoons, coyote, and white-tailed deer.
Dallas, TX - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 0.7
This challenging hike to one of the area’s tallest peaks feels like it belongs in the Texas Hill Country and, given its central location in the Dallas/Forth Worth Metroplex, can be surprisingly secluded. Unlike other area trails that have little change in elevation, this one moves up and down like a roller coaster, offering thrilling views of Joe Pool Lake to the west and a calming moment or two by a cattail pond before winding back up to the trailhead.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
Located a dozen or so miles from downtown Dallas, this trail can feel totally remote even on sunny weekends. This rigorous up-and-down hike is a real workout and a challenge to those who say North Texas is totally flat. Unlike the Cattail Pond Trail, also in the Cedar Ridge Preserve, this trail does not offer mountaintop views, but it does provide a shaded canopy of trees and crosses over a small creek several times. A great hike for late fall, when leaves begin turning, even though many of the trees here, including the cedars, are evergreen.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
This popular state park combines limestone bluffs and forests of dark green cedars along the shores of Joe Pool Lake. It’s only minutes from downtown Dallas, making it a popular weekend retreat. This 1-mile hike is an easy jaunt through the woods and along a tranquil pond. It’s also a great way to introduce young children to hiking and to please those eager to enjoy nature without tackling a long, arduous trail. In late spring and early summer, the trail can get overgrown with grasses and weeds, so wear long pants. The pond attracts wildlife, including possums, bobcats, coyote, and foxes, and features a series of informative markers describing the various tracks these animals leave on the muddy bottoms. The trail can be combined with the nearby Talala Trail for a more challenging full day of hiking or simply add the 1-mile side trail up the hill to take in a panoramic view of the park. Combined with a picnic, this trail is hard to beat.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1
Located only 10 miles southwest of downtown Dallas, this trail feels worlds away as it winds through the westernmost vestiges of Blackland Prairie on the way to Joe Pool Lake. While it can be difficult to follow in places where grasses can overtake the trail, the payoff is a nice overlook of the lake before heading back to the trailhead. The nearby Penn Farm Agricultural History Center provides a hands-on history lesson for children.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
This 2-mile hike crosses over a spillway area before heading uphill on a rocky, at times steep, trek that leads to a panoramic overlook of the park’s 528 acres, including Cedar Lake on the west fork of Camp Creek. The hike continues through a forest of ash and juniper trees to a peaceful resting spot with the option of taking a dip in the lake before heading back to the trailhead. There’s also an adjacent 1-mile trail along Camp Creek that offers prime birding opportunities.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 2
This flat, wooded trail begins by a small playground and picnic pavilion and winds along a bubbling creek through a riparian forest, wetlands, and lakes. The ponds are home to an impressive variety of birds including Great Blue Heron and its smaller relative, the Green Heron, plus flocks of mallards and the forty-six-acre park’s resident gaggle of geese. Many hikers enjoy bringing their dogs along on the trail. It’s easy to enjoy a hike with Fido and still leave little impact on the environment. Most trails in this guide welcome dogs as long as they are kept on a leash. For unleashed fun opt for one of the area’s growing number of dog parks that have open spaces for dogs to romp. Be aware that some local nature sanctuaries and preserves specifically ban dogs from trails in order to encourage wildlife to inhabit the area.
Dallas, TX - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 1.2
This 1.3-mile loop on the shores of Lake Lewisville passes by a restored 1870s pioneer cabin and winds by the lake where wood ducks, wading birds, and other waterfowl can be spotted from a camouflaged blind. A side trail called the Cicada Loop identifies various types of trees and plants in an informative tree walk.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
This hike crosses over the Paluxy River and through a bottomland forest before winding uphill through stands of scrubby cedars and a panoramic view of Dinosaur Valley State Park, home to some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. There’s also a couple of kitschy dinosaur replicas, created by Sinclair Oil Company for the 1964 World’s Fair, that provide a dino-mite photo opportunity.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
The shaded trail winds alongside the brackish Duck Creek and provides an easy escape from the nearby urban neighborhoods of Garland and Mesquite. Its wide, flat-paved surface makes it an easy hike for those in wheelchairs and families with young kids who can also play in adjacent playgrounds and a nearby water park, the Surf and Swim. The trail is also popular with area runners and dog-walkers. A disc golf course draws players of all skill levels from throughout the metro area.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
This new 400-acre park on the shores of Eagle Mountain Lake offers nearly 7 miles of trails through forests and grassy bluffs overlooking the lake. While there are nearby gas pad sites tapping into the Barnett Shale underground reservoir of natural gas, the park feels remote and has remained in a largely natural state. The park’s sandy trail provides a great place to spot animal tracks, particularly after moderate to heavy rains.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
This challenging 6.5-mile out-and-back trail climbs through shaded canyons and patches of yucca to a panoramic ridgetop view of Lake Worth. The Fort Worth Nature Center’s diverse 3,600 acres include native tallgrass prairie and deciduous forest of oaks, cottonwoods, and pecans. The hike passes projects created by 1930s-era workers for the Civilian Conservation Corps and offers abundant wildlife, including white tailed deer and coyote.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 6.5
Hiking with buffalo? The herd here is fenced off, but getting an occasional glimpse of these iconic creatures of the American West adds allure and a photo op to this trail. With more than 3,600 acres of forests, prairies, and wetlands, the Fort Worth Nature Center is one of the largest city-owned nature centers in the United States. Thankfully all that space and the park’s entrance fee, keep it relatively sparsely populated much of the time. Even on busy weekends, only one or two hikers may be spotted along this 1.8-mile trail by the shores of the West Fork of the Trinity River and by a forested river bottom.
Dallas, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
This comprehensive nature preserve offers a museum and small zoo along with a wide variety of trails through wetlands, prairies, and forests, where educational markers identify plants and encourage conservation. A great resource for learning more about Texas ecosystems, the Heard provides many guided hikes and interactive exhibits. This trail includes the Heard’s Animals of the World Zoo as it winds through a grassy prairie into a wooded wetland and, eventually, onto a boardwalk overlooking a pond where turtles sun themselves on rocks and ducks dive for fish.
Dallas, TX - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
The trail runs along the site formerly occupied by the tracks of the Missouri-Kansas- Texas Railroad, called the Katy for short. The tracks were taken up long ago and the old right-of-way of the railroad has evolved from a neighborhood eyesore to the place to see and be seen in uptown Dallas. It’s the closest thing North Texas hiking has to a singles bar, as the city’s buff and beautiful sweat out romance. Some couples have even married on the trail. But don’t feel put off if you’re not in the market; the trail welcomes all ages as long as you don’t wander into the adjacent private homes and apartment complexes. It’s also the only Dallas area trail with a logoed dog leash and bandana—available on the website of Friends of the Katy Trail, the nonprofit group that promotes and protects this ever-popular pathway.
Dallas, TX - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4
The hike heads up and down rocky hills through a shrubby forest and over a couple of knobby bridges before coming to an overlook of a small creek, which is dry if there hasn’t been any recent rain. The narrow trail is shared with mountain bikers, who are challenged by the sharp turns and some of the steep slopes here. Prickly pear cacti line the trail in many sections, adding to the degree of difficulty. It’s easy to drive past the small parking lot, which holds only six or so cars or a couple of horse trailers, but this trail is growing in popularity as hikers look for a more secluded option to the busy North Shore Trail where mountain bikers crowd the trail on sunny weekends. Local horseback riders maintain the trail, and horses get the right-of-way. As on other trails where hikers meet up with horses, it’s important to say hello in a normal conversational voice as horses and their riders approach so as to not spook the horse.
Dallas, TX - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.2
This trail is largely for off-road cyclists, but hikers are welcome as long as they give cyclists right-of-way. Located just off TX 114 in Irving, the trail winds through a leafy glade then offers a prime picnic spot by the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. The hike begins in a grove of tightly packed laurels before joining the riparian forest along the river, home to wood ducks and Northern Cardinals. From there, the hike returns back through a meadow, returning to the trailhead located near a popular fishing spot on the river.
Dallas, TX - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
This hike is on a paved street long ago closed to traffic, making it a quiet stroll through a cross-timbers forest of post oaks and cedar elms to a solitary point with a sheltered picnic table and view of Lake Grapevine. The trail gently winds up and down low hills as it reaches Oak Grove Park. Home to multiple soccer fields, baseball diamonds, and picnic pavilions, it ends up at a lakeside playground. While this hike sticks to paved surfaces, there are multiple points to access unpaved mountain bike trails, but pedestrians must yield to cyclists on these rocky trails.
Dallas, TX - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.7
This 3-mile, out-and-back hike begins in Lake Mineral Wells State Park by the park’s amphitheater and descends downhill on a 5 percent grade past a pasture of longhorn cattle and open prairie. Here, the trail moves through a prairie filled with wildflowers much of the year as it winds down to the site of an old railway bed that now serves as a hike and bike trail linking Mineral Wells and Weatherford. The hike heads west toward Mineral Wells, crossing a bridge over US 180 with an optional stop at a museum dedicated to the Vietnam War.
Dallas, TX - Hiking - Trail Length: 3