Best Hiking Near Dallas Part 1
By: Haley Cottey
The other day I heard someone say "I grew up in California and moved here a few years ago. There is just nothing to do here" and while I totally know where she is coming from and I have said this myself countless times about DFW, I have made it my mission to explore this metroplex and prove you can enjoy the outdoors even in DFW. Plus with the current pandemic, we are encouraged more and more to stay close to home. You can stay close to home and still enjoy unique outdoor spaces and have adventures! (If you want to make it a fun game with the family and get even more trails, join explorers all over the metroplex and play DFW Trails Bingo.)
So I did some research (lots of hiking and camping and asking my friends) and came up with a few great places to start depending on how much time you have. Now these are just a few of the countless outdoor spaces within driving distance. I didn't want to list everything (that would be impossible) but instead wanted to provide some options to start with. Please share your favorite finds in the comments!
Check each locations website to see their regulations during COVID 19. In this list, we will include 5 places to hike and explore within DFW, 4 places to travel to for a day or weekend getaway within 4 hours of DFW and 4 places to explore over a weekend within 6 hours of DFW.
First of all, download AllTrails and use their free app to find trails near you. I have tried many hiking apps and this is by far my favorite!
Hiking In DFW
Now lets start with some easy hiking right in the city. These are great options for families and individuals wanting to unplug for a few hours. Many of the Nature Centers and Audubon Centers also have family friendly events, activities and educational classes perfect for kids and adults! Just give them a call or check their website to see all they have to offer.
- Ray Roberts Lake State Park - "On land, you can camp, hike, bike, ride your horse, rollerblade, geocache or go backpacking. On the water, you can swim at one of our beach areas (no lifeguards on duty), paddle, or wet a hook in our kids’ fishing pond or the lake. Or enjoy quieter pursuits: photography, nature watching, or simply relaxing!"
- Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge - "The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge (FWNC&R) is a natural area comprised of forests, prairies, and wetlands allowing you to step back in time and experience what the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex was like in the early 20th century. At its current state, the FWNC&R covers 3,621 acres and includes over 20 miles of hiking trails, making the park one of the largest city-owned nature centers in the United States."
- Cedar Ridge Preserve - Cedar Ridge is part of Audubon Dallas. "Audubon Dallas, the local chapter of the National Audubon Society, is a volunteer-based, nonprofit environmental organization. Our mission is to support and promote the conservation of birds and other wildlife, the protection of habitat and biodiversity, and the provision of education and opportunities for our entire community to observe and appreciate nature."
Oak Point Park and & Nature Preserve - "Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve, Plano's largest park, is 800 acres and extends from Parker Road on the south to Chaparral Road on the north and from Spring Creek Parkway on the west to Los Rios Boulevard on the east. The park boasts nearly 8 miles of concrete trails and 5 miles of soft surface trails located along Rowlett Creek... The pond at Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve is open for kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding from dawn to dusk. The general public is welcome to use their own watercraft (canoe, kayak, stand up
paddle board)." There is also a zip line at Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve called GoApe.
- Trinity River Audubon Center - "Trinity River Audubon Center, located just ten miles south of downtown Dallas, is your gateway to explore the amazing resources of the 6,000-acre Great Trinity Forest. As the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States, this forest supports a diverse community of plant and animal species and contains a unique mixture of bottomland hardwoods, wetlands and grasslands. A part of the City of Dallas-Trinity River Corridor Project, the center's 120 acres sit on a former illegal dump site, now a reclaimed haven for a vast array of birds and other wildlife in an increasingly urbanized metropolitan area. Five miles of trails lead visitors through hardwood forests, pond, wetland, and prairie ecosystems, and along the Trinity River."
Hiking within 4 hours of DFW
Now lets travel a bit. Here are some great outdoor getaways within 4 hours of Dallas. So whether you want to make a long day of it, take an overnight or even take a weekend getaway, these are all great places to camp, hike and explore.
- Colorado Bend State Park - "Marvel at the beauty of Gorman Falls, cool off in Spicewood Springs, fish or paddle the river, take a cave tour, and test your limits on 35 miles of hike and bike trails."
- Sam Houston National Forest - "The Sam Houston National Forest WMA has 161,508 acres with 47,609 acres in Montgomery County, 59,746 acres in San Jacinto County, and 54,153 acres in Walker County... Fishing, trapping, and public hunting of white-tailed deer, feral hog, waterfowl, dove, other migratory game birds, squirrel, quail, rabbits, hares, predators, furbearers, and frogs permitted. Other outdoor recreation opportunities include camping, hiking, bicycling, and wildlife viewing."
- Tyler State Park - "At Tyler State Park, you can boat, fish, swim in the lake, hike, mountain bike, picnic, geocache, camp, bird watch and study nature. Whether you visit for an afternoon or a weekend, you will find plenty to do here. Explore the Pineywoods on more than 13 miles of trails. Don’t miss the Whispering Pines Nature Trail, laid out more than 70 years ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps."
- Beavers Bend State Park - Beavers Bend Sate Park is located in the foothills of the Kiamichi Mountains and has hiking, camping, biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and much more!
Hiking within 6 hours of DFW
Now for the full weekend adventure! Here are some places to visit within 6 hours of Dallas. Get away for the weekend, enjoy some nature, unplug and ExploreMore.
- Caprock Canyons State Park and Trail - "Besides marveling at the bison and bats, you can hike, ride horses or bikes, camp, geocache, or take a scenic drive. Lake Theo offers no-wake boating, fishing and swimming. Bring your group for a picnic." Or drive just a little further and expolor Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
- Lost Maples State Natural Area - "Your whole family will find plenty to do here. Take a hike or a photo, go fishing, look for birds and other wildlife, camp, backpack, stargaze and hunt for geocaches. vLost Maples protects a special stand of Uvalde bigtooth maples. Many folks come here to see colorful leaves on these and other trees in autumn. The show varies, depending on weather conditions"
- Big Thicket National Preserve - "Life of all types abounds in the Big Thicket. This national preserve protects the incredible diversity of life found where multiple habitats converge in southeast Texas. Hiking trails and waterways meander through nine different ecosystems, from longleaf pine forests to cypress-lined bayous. It is a place of discovery, a place to wander and explore, a place to marvel at the richness of nature."
- Ouachita National Forest - "Established in 1907, the South's oldest and one of the largest (1.6 million acres) national forest. Recreation areas such as Albert Pike, Shady Lake and Charlton offer campsites, fishing areas, picnic sites and hiking trails. Also available is swimming, hunting, fishing, mountain bike trails, all-terrain vehicle trails, equestrian trails."
So there you have it! It may not be the Rocky Mountains but there is plenty to do and explore right here in DFW and nearby. Don't forget to call or check the websites to see how each location is handling COVID and what the regulations may be. Let us know some of your favorite places if they are not on the list in the comments.
Now go ExploreMore!