Dallas Fort Worth metroplex might not be the first place you'd think of when looking for hiking spots. This area is modern, metropolitan, and filled with endless attractions, from Six Flags in Arlington to the iconic city treasure of Reunion Tower. But hiking spots? Doesn't seem possible.
However, thinking that DFW lacks scenic hiking trails is a common misconception. All you have to do is venture just slightly outside the comfort of the city, and you're met with some of the best hiking spots Texas has to offer.
Regardless of your previous hiking experience and skill level, here is the list of best hikes around Dallas Fort Worth metroplex!
Colleyville Nature Center Trail
Length: 2.1 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 9 feet
Based in Colleyville (a 30-minute drive from Dallas) is the humble, moderately trafficked Colleyville Nature Center Trail. This trail is known for its stunning views of serene lakes, ponds, and fields of wildflowers, making it an ideal hiking spot for photographers and wildlife enthusiasts.
As for the trail’s difficulty, Colleyville Nature Center Trail is suitable for hikers of all skill levels as it doesn’t feature any challenging incline or declines. Advanced hikers will not benefit from this trail as there is a minimal elevation gain and no harsh terrain. Dogs are also welcome on this trail as long as they are on a leash.
Due to the low intensity of the trail, this is a reasonably popular hiking spot that can get quite busy during summer. However, the best time to walk the Colleyville Nature Center Trail is in spring, when the temperature is just getting warmer and the wildflowers are beginning to bloom.
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center Trail
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Length: 1.6 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 29 feet
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, based just outside the Dallas Fort Worth area, is another one of Texas’ well-loved conservation sites. This center features trails of varying lengths, all of which are suitable for beginners and moderate hikers. As the elevation gain is still fairly minimal, this is one of the best family-friendly hikes in the area.
The Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center trail is most famous for its abundance of wildflowers and local wildlife.
Visitors are encouraged to learn about the local ecosystem and take pictures throughout the trail. However, despite the name, dogs are not allowed on this trail due to the threat of damaging the ecosystem when dog waste isn’t picked up.
The best time to visit this trail is during spring when the wildflowers bloom, or in fall when the trees begin to turn gold. Summer is a beautiful time to visit as the course features a lot of shade, but the traffic is typically highest during this time.
Spring Creek Forest Preserve Trail
Length: 1.1 mile out and back
Elevation Gain: 13 feet
The Spring Creek Forest Reserve Trail is based just outside of Garland, a city just north of Dallas, making it incredibly easy to travel to. This is another excellent family-friendly trail for families who don’t mind getting a bit muddy.
Even though the trail is mostly shaded, it can still get quite boggy and muddy after a period of rain, so make sure to wear appropriate shoes!
This trail offers a lovely opportunity to get up close and personal with the Texas wildlife. Plus, with both on-trail and off-trail options, this is an ideal hiking spot for hikers, runners, cyclists, and even stopping for a picnic. The forest preserve is over 68 acres large, allowing for lots of exploration.
The best time to visit the Spring Creek Forest Preserve trail is between spring and fall. However, summer is probably the best time to visit as this is the driest season.
Fossil Ridge Loop Trail – Cleburne
Length: 4.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 344 feet
If you’re a hiker with a bit more experience than a beginner looking for a challenge around the Dallas and Fort Worth area, check out the Fossil Ridge Loop trail. Located near Cleburne, about 40 minutes from Fort Worth, this trail is the ideal respite from the hustle and bustle of the metroplex.
The Fossil Ridge Loop trail predominantly features a serene empty lake, wherein the trail loops around the water and delves into the nearby forestry and woodlands. Beginners can enjoy the quiet dirt paths, while those with a flair for adventure can explore a small yet beautiful waterfall by going off-trail to the Coyote trail.
This trail is primarily popular in spring and summer when the dirt paths are driest because the namesake fossils can be found along the river to the lake. Dogs are allowed on this trail on a leash.
Oak Point Park And Nature Reserve
Length: 6.1 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 72 feet
Slightly further out from Dallas is the largest park and nature reserve in Plano, TX.
With over 800 acres of land, the Oak Point Park and Nature Reserve feature many hiking spots (both on and off the trail). In addition, this park is home to a scenic lake, an abundance of local wildlife, and stunning viewpoints that overlook the woodland.
Apart from offering several trails, this park and nature reserve offers an abundance of other activities, including playgrounds, activity lawns, kayaking, paddleboarding, and more. Plus, the entire park and nature reserve is dog-friendly!
The best time to visit the Oak Point Park and Nature Reserve is between spring, summer, and fall.
Summer is inevitably the most popular time for visitors thanks to the gorgeous Texan weather, and we recommend visiting in the evening so you can enjoy the sunset at one of the park’s many viewpoints.
North Shore Trail
Length: 18 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 846 feet
If you’re looking for a longer hiking trail than the previous trail spots, check out the North Shore trail. This trail lasts 18 miles out and back and truly takes you out of the metroplex with its spectacular lake, towering trees, and range of terrains.
The trail varies from grassy floors to dirt paths, allowing for a nice variety for hikers to challenge themselves.
The North Shore trail happens to be one of the most popular biking trails in North Texas, thanks to the array of dry dirt paths both on and off the trail. This trail is also known for its abundance of cliffs that soar over the lake. While these cliffs aren’t dangerous, they make the path is better suited for hikers with moderate skills.
Keep in mind that this trail requires an entry fee and that it is mainly used for mountain biking, so the trail can be busy during summer.
Length: 7.7 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 187 feet
Based on the ruins of an abandoned railroad track, the Katy Trail is a nonprofit trail that strives towards keeping the area surrounding Dallas clean, green, and abundant in natural beauty. While most of the trail features 3.5 miles of paths, visitors can extend their hike by going slightly off-trail for a longer walk.
This trail is conveniently located just outside the city of Dallas. One minute, you’re looking at the backdrop of skyscrapers towering over trees. Next, you’re amongst a field of wildflowers and staring out at a scenic lake. This versatility makes the Katy Trail so popular for people who live in and around the metroplex.
While this isn’t exactly the most strenuous trail on our list, it’s ideal for families and people who need a breather from the hustle and bustle of Dallas. People often visit this trail to go bird watching, road biking, and to walk their dogs.
Trinity River Audubon Center Trail
Length: 2.5 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 72 feet
Located 10 miles south of downtown Dallas is the Trinity River Audubon Center trail. The center is home to and protects the 6,000-acre Great Trinity Forest, known as the country’s most significant urban hardwood forest. While the main trail is only 2.5 miles long out and back, visitors can explore further into the forest grounds.
The Trinity River Audubon Center trail offers a variety of scenery for all visitors to experience. From walking alongside the wetlands to the floors of the hardwood forest, the trail is home to some of the best local wildlife you’ll see in the whole Dallas and Fort Worth area – most notably birds of prey in the center’s prairie habitat.
This isn’t a challenging hike, ideal for beginners and families. Visitors will have to pay an entry fee to ensure the future and protection of the center and its land. Due to the flat nature of the trail, this is one of the best accessible trails in the Dallas Fort Worth area.
Oak Cliff Nature Preserve Outer Loop
Length: 6.5 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 344 feet
With over 120 acres of green space somehow lodged in the middle of urban Dallas, the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve offers a unique respite from the metropolitan city. Within the preserve is a 6.5-mile long loop trail that encompasses everything the preserve is known for – dense forests, local and native wildlife, and an array of native fauna.
As a result, the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve is most commonly home to wildlife and plant enthusiasts. The trail itself is suitable for moderate hikers or beginners who fancy a challenge, as it features a nice incline and an array of terrains. This makes the trail so exciting for runners, mountain bikers, and hikers.
The main problem with this trail is that it’s so easy to get lost. Featuring lots of winding paths, visitors must prepare to get a little lost as they wander slightly off the trail into another park within the woods.
Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area
Length: Multiple trails
Elevation Gain: Multiple trails
Check out the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area if you’re looking for variety. With over 2,500 acres of land, this learning area is an ideal day trip for families and children. It features 7 great trails suitable for hiking, running, biking, and more. Some even have access to water-based activities like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding!
With such an expansive area of land and trails, it makes sense that this learning area is home to an abundance of flora, fauna, and wildlife. One minute, you’re birdwatching in the middle of the woods. Next, you’re looking out for salamanders beneath the vast lily pads.
As none of the trails are too long, it’s possible to complete several of them within a day or afternoon. Admittedly, the learning center is a little further away from Dallas and Fort Worth compared to the other hiking spots on our list, but it’s certainly worth it for a day of exploring outside the metroplex.
Texas Buckeye Trail
Length: 2.1 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 9 feet
Based just off the Trinity River Audubon Center trail is the humble Texas Buckeye trail, featuring a meandering route that explores through the hardwood forest floor to overlook the Trinity River. This isn’t a long trial, which is part of the reason why it’s so popular.
The other reason is due to the variety of terrains and sights available, as visitors can escape the city life by exploring the forest and river bed.
As with most trails in the Dallas Fort Worth area, this trail is also home to brilliant local wildlife, flora, and fauna. Birdwatchers and fish enthusiasts are often seen along the river bed and keen wildlife photographers.
Because the trail offers dirt paths, winding woodland floors, and the famous river, this hiking spot is ideal for biking and watersports.
This is a fairly popular trail that has moderate foot traffic in summer. The best time to visit this trail is between April and September, as this allows for the wildflowers to bloom.
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Outer Loop
Length: 2.4 miles loop
Elevation Gain: 121 feet
Based near Plano (about a 40-minute drive from Dallas), the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve offers a well-needed natural respite for city-goers of all hiking skill levels.
This preserve features a 2.4 mile-long loop trail home to some of the best local wildlife, including birds of prey to insects and reptiles, making it a haven for wildlife photographers and enthusiasts.
As well as the abundance of wildlife, the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Outer Loop features a lush forest, creeks, and plains, allowing for a variety of terrains and scenery for hikers. The trail itself is an easy route, which is why it’s so popular amongst families with kids.
The best time to visit this trail is during spring, when the wildflowers begin to bloom. While summer is also a beautiful time to visit, this is typically the busiest time for foot traffic. The trail is the busiest during weekends when families take their kids exploring.
Cedar Ridge Nature Center
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Length: 9 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: 755 feet
With around 600 acres of land and over 9 miles of trails, the Cedar Ridge Nature Center is a haven for people who need to escape the city.
This nature center offers an elevation gain of 755 feet, which allows for pleasant views of the city and an abundance of sights, including butterfly gardens, large meadows for picnics, woodland areas, and more.
The Cedar Ridge Nature Center is home to 13 trails that vary in difficulty, but none of them are unachievable for beginner hikers looking for an adventure. Thanks to such an expansive land, these trails are a haven for native wildlife such as birds of prey, insects, reptiles, and mammals.
The trails are also home to wildflowers and native fauna, making for a stunning place to take photographs.
As these trails are located relatively close to the city of Dallas, the foot traffic tends to be moderate to busy. To avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit this nature center during the week or in spring when the wildflowers start to bloom.
Piedmont Ridge Trail
Length: 1.3 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 104 feet
The Piedmont Ridge Trail isn’t the most accessible trail to find in Dallas, but it’s worth the risk of getting slightly lost on the way. Located opposite a golf course, this trail is short and sweet and exciting enough to hike twice in one go. Also, as it is so hidden from public knowledge, the foot traffic is typically low – ideal for people who need to escape the crowds of Dallas.
This trail features a winding path that twists and turns through a beautiful forest, allowing for fairly uneven terrain ideal for moderate hikers or beginners looking for an adventure. However, as it is accessible all year round, the ground can get muddy during fall.
Plus, due to the short length of the trail, it is ideal for taking dogs for a walk into the wilderness without venture too far out of Dallas.
Post Oak Preserve Trail
Length: 1.5 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 45 feet
Located southeast of Dallas near Seagoville is the Post Oak Preserve trail. This preserve provides a quiet and serene respite from the city, featuring a lightly trafficked trail that loops around the outskirts of a lake and woodland.
If you’re unsure what type of natural scenery you need, the Post Oak Preserve trail probably has it in its 1.5 mile-long loop trail.
The trail is easy to follow and short to walk, making it suitable for walking around twice or stopping for a lunch break. The best time to visit this trail is in spring, when the wildflowers start to bloom. Thanks to the minimal elevation gain, people will often visit this trail during the evenings to experience the glowing and peaceful sunsets.
Sansom Blue Trail
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Level: 2.1 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 275 feet
Located near Lake Worth, just northeast of Fort Worth, the Sansom Blue Trail is slightly hard to find as it is off the beaten path and poorly signposted. As well as this, the trail itself is poorly maintained, resulting in uneven terrains that only moderate hikers or adventurous beginners should seek to tackle.
While it’s not well marked, the Sansom Blue trail is undoubtedly fun to get lost in. Hikers are recommended to bring trekking poles and a sense of adventure because the likelihood of getting lost is high. Still, there’s no better place to get lost than amongst towering trees, vivid fauna, and local wildlife.
Plus, being so close to Lake Worth, this trail features stunning rivers with patches of large rocks and boulders.
That’s our list of hiking trails around the DFW area, let us know what is your favorite hike in the metroplex. In the meanwhile check out other amazing hiking spots in Texas
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