Updated May 2021
Contrary to popular belief, there are an abundance of hiking trails that can be found in or near Dallas. Elevation isn’t always required to take in scenic views of nature, and North Texas has some of the most beautiful trails tucked away amongst the new apartment high-rises and suburban sprawl. Whether you’re an avid hiker who can’t wait to explore or a novice who just wants to get outside on a gorgeous day, here are the top trails you should check out on your next nature trip!
CEDAR RIDGE NATURE PRESERVE
The Cedar Ridge Preserve is a scenic, rich in wildlife, slice of hill country. Formerly the Dallas Nature Center, the preserve spans 600 acres between Mountain Creek Parkway and FM 1382, a short 20 minutes from downtown Dallas.
This nature park offers a variety of amenities for visitors. There are 9 miles of walking trails ranging from easy to difficult, providing the perfect experience for any hiker. The center also features butterfly gardens and picnic areas.
CEDAR HILL | DIRECTIONS
TRINITY RIVER AUDUBON CENTER
At 6,000 acres, the Great Trinity Forest is the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States. The Trinity River Audubon Center sits right in the middle of that forest, and since 2008 has been educating visitors about the flora and fauna that are native to the Dallas-area.
Just under 4 miles of trails wind through the open space park that surrounds the center, making this a great choice for hikers who only have a few hours for an outing. Views to take in include undisturbed wetlands, birds in their natural habitat, and overlooks of the Trinity River.
SOUTH DALLAS | DIRECTIONS
photo courtesy of Trinity River Audubon Center
Take a 25 minute drive southwest from Downtown and you’ll find the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center. With over 2 miles of hiking trails that reach some of the highest elevations in Dallas County, this is a great hiking option for panorama pics and scenic overlooks.
Dogwood Canyon is named for the dogwood trees that grow in abundance in the area, making early spring one of the best times to visit so that you can witness the beautiful pink and white blooms. There is plenty to take in year-round, however, and guided hikes are offered so you can learn more about the local biodiversity in all seasons.
CEDAR HILL | DIRECTIONS
photo courtesy of Dogwood Canyon
ARBOR HILLS NATURE CENTER
With 3 miles of paved hiking trail, 3 miles of unpaved hiking trail, and a 2.8 mile off-road bike trail, Arbor Hills Nature Center has something for every outdoorsman. The 200-acre park is located just 20 miles north of downtown Dallas in the northern suburb of Plano.
If you’re looking to chill out on a weekend, I highly recommend the Outer Loop Trail that starts off in a meadow (where it’s not uncommon to see artists with their easels), and then follows a clear water tributary of Indian Creek.
PLANO | DIRECTIONS
NORTH SHORE TRAIL
One of the most popular trails in DFW, the North Shore Trail runs for 22.5 miles from Rockledge Park to Twin Coves Park on the north side of Lake Grapevine. It’s a moderately difficult trail, but it’s well worth the effort to score some spectacular views of the lake and cool breezes off the water.
While open year-round, the trail does close for inclement weather and flooding so be sure to check the trail’s status before heading out; especially in springtime! Dogs are also welcome, but must be kept on-leash.
GRAPEVINE | DIRECTIONS
photo courtesy of North Shore Trail
Spring Creek Nature Area Trail is a 2.3 mile loop that’s located in the suburb of Richardson, and is a great option for beginner hikers or wildlife enthusiasts. Commonly spotted animals include heron, hummingbirds and egrets, and it’s not unusual to find coyote tracks along the trail.
If you’ve grown bored of your regular run/jog/walk around the neighborhood, this all-paved trail would make an excellent replacement!
RICHARDSON | DIRECTIONS
RIVER LEGACY PARKS
River Legacy is a 1300 acre park located just 24 miles from downtown Dallas! This park offers over 8 miles of walking & biking trails along with picnic areas. Their trails are mostly flat, but they offer some beautiful views of the Trinity River along with other scenery.
River Legacy is also committed to educating the community about the environment with their Science Learning Center. Their center has classes along with other educational resources for children and adults, so make sure to stop by after your walk!
ARLINGTON | DIRECTIONS
photo courtesy of River Legacy