We’re no psychics, but we predict many outdoor adventures ahead. Fall 2021 is here and nature is beckoning. For North Texas residents looking to explore, the team at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty has compiled a list of our favorite places around Dallas and Fort Worth to get your heart rate up, log some extra steps and appreciate natural beauty close to home. We’ll explore trails in the middle of the city and a few off-the-beaten-path hikes where you can see all sorts of flora and fauna, with the beautiful sounds of birds singing and light breezes rustling through the trees. Check out these seven amazing trail options below — then go take a hike.
An abandoned railroad line spanning 3.5 miles through the heart of Uptown Dallas was transformed in 2000 to become one of the most beloved recreational destinations in the city. The mixed-use Katy Trail welcomes cyclists, walkers, runners and everything in between (except any type of motorized vehicle) with the added benefit of a separate, soft path exclusively for pedestrians to keep away from the bikes whizzing by. Access to a variety of parks, businesses and restaurants located off the trail at several points (including the on-path Katy Trail Ice House) makes it easy to spend hours creating your own urban adventure.
Santa Fe Trail
Along its 4.3 miles of concrete pathways, the Santa Fe Trail connects White Rock Lake through East Dallas to Fair Park, Deep Ellum and downtown. The 12-foot-wide trail offers plenty of space for walking, jogging/running, rollerblading and cycling, with plenty of bridges over busy roadways for added safety. Along the route, you can pause at several parks for a little much-needed relaxation or step back in time to admire the architecture of Fair Park and Deep Ellum at the trail’s southern edge.
The Trails of Audubon Dallas
One of Dallas’ best-kept secrets (even among locals who’ve lived here for decades), the Great Trinity Forest and Audubon Dallas feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Several trails can be accessed in this region of southeast Dallas and it won’t take long before you feel transported to the middle of nowhere, the sounds of traffic disappearing to make the Cedar Ridge Preserve a true oasis. View numerous species of birds, scampering river otters and other wildlife along your route and leave with some incredible photos — or simply great memories of a day spent in the warm Texas sunshine.
Texas Buckeye Trail
For the perfect daytime excursion, start at Bonton Farms for a coffee, a field-fresh meal at their cafe or spend some time petting goats and strolling through the farm’s crops. Then it’s only a short jaunt across a bridge at the end of the cul-de-sac and over the levee to the Texas Buckeye Trail. The main trail is paved, but you can diverge onto well-marked unpaved trails for a more authentic hiking experience. Currently, due to erosion, the paved trail ends before you reach the overlook to the Trinity River. So, if you wish to see the waterway in its most natural state, definitely explore the more rustic trails where you can walk (carefully) to the edge to view the water flowing below.
White Rock Lake Trail
Surrounding White Rock Lake — Dallas’ cherished outdoor destination in the heart of the city — are 9.2 miles of trails that loop around the lake for endless opportunities for alfresco fall fun. Cycling is the ideal way to complete the entirety of White Rock Lake Trail in a single day, though if you plan well and bring along plenty of water, it’s possible to walk or run the loop if you have a few hours to spare. Multiple parks line the lake with pavilions for picnics, playgrounds for the kids and ideal vantage points for sunrises and sunsets. You can also rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards if you want to take your exercise onto the water for a bit.
Who doesn’t love a waterfall? Even if it’s not the largest one you’ll ever see, Airfield Falls is the largest natural waterfall in the Fort Worth area, offering the type of tranquility that only comes from the sounds of falling water. It’s one of the highlights of the 100-plus miles of trails that make up the larger Trinity Trails system, where you may also see thousands of monarch butterflies when they’re in town for their migration north, typically mid-September. The rest of the year, additional species of butterflies and even non-flying wildlife can be seen throughout your hike.
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
These are the only trails on our list with an admission fee ($6 for adults, less for children and seniors), but accessing these pristine lands of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge are worth every penny. Nestled among the West Fork of the Trinity River and Lake Worth, you’ll find numerous trails, but also a variety of animal species. Waterfowl, deer, foxes, armadillos, plus a dedicated Prairie Dog Town and bison range represent some of the major highlights. Launch a canoe from the shores of the river and truly get to know this vast and diverse ecosystem so close to home.