Anyone who lives in the sprawling metropolis of Dallas will tell you that getting out of the concrete jungle to take a hike in nature is an activity that absolutely cannot be skipped.
Although Dallas is a pretty large city, it’s surrounded by some beautiful national parks and stunning hiking trails that you can use to get closer to nature.
While city life is all about gleaming shopping malls, art museums, and buzzing bars and restaurants, these trails offer a glimpse of the natural beauty that can be found in central Texas.
On this list, you will find a hike that is appropriate for any age or aptitude, and on almost every trail you will find plenty of tranquil streams and lush vegetation to balance out the hustle and bustle of Downtown.
To make finding the perfect trail even easier for you, we’ve split this list into easy, medium, and hard categories, so you can choose the best trail for your skill level.
Keep reading for all of the insider info on how to find these trails, how long they are, their elevation, not-to-be-missed lookouts, wildlife to keep an eye out for, and more!
The Best Hiking Trails Around Dallas
1. Katy Trail
- Length: 7.5 miles
- Elevation: 196.6 feet
Turtle Creek and Oak Lawn are two of the coolest neighborhoods in Downtown Dallas, and Katy Trail is the perfect location to connect the two of them!
This hike, which makes a loop so you’ll always end up back in your car, is perfect for someone who wants to spend a few easy and calming hours in nature.
It is the perfect length, since it is neither too short nor too long, and it offers a charming combination of city vistas and lush landscapes. If you want to make the most of this trail, you should hike it in soring to see all of the beautiful wildflowers blooming along the path.
This trail is ideal for anything from morning jogs to afternoon walks with the dog to leisurely strolls with the family.
The locals adore this location due to the abundance of shady areas and paved pathways, while tourists like it because of its close proximity to well-known restaurants and other points of interest.
There are a few downsides to this trail though, one of which being that as it’s so easy, it’s very popular. This urban trek has the potential to be rather crowded, particularly in the evenings, because it offers so many different attractions to visitors.
Still, if you have a free few hours and want to spend some time outdoors, this is a great trail for you.
2. Spring Creek Walking Trail
- Length: 0.9 miles
- Elevation: 13.1 feet
This trail is a bit further out from the other hiking trails in the Dallas area, but if you’re driving from Downtown Dallas then it should only take you around half an hour to get to Spring Creek.
The loop is a good option for family outings because it is not too long, it is very child-friendly, and it’s just a very lovely walk. You can anticipate level terrain, creek overlooks, and dirt trails, all of which are ideal for taking a leisurely stroll or engaging in some light adventuring.
Keep a look out for the native flora and fauna! There’s nothing more enchanting than coming across creatures or plants in their native habitat, and you can use this to teach your children all about the wonders of nature and how different plants/animals live.
3. Lemmon Lake
- Length: 3.5 miles
- Elevation: 36.1 feet
This short and simple out-and-back trail, which is paved and features ample tree cover, is an excellent way to get some exercise and is only fifteen minutes away from the city center.
Because the majority of the trail is quite flat, walkers and joggers are the more common people you’ll find here, although there’s also an excellent riding trail for any mountain bikers to try out.
Lemmon Lake is a tranquil escape from the traffic, noise, and crowds that can be found at other popular hiking spots in the Dallas area. A perk for people who own dogs or other pets is that they are allowed on this trail.
Even though you won’t get the best views of the surrounding scenery from this trail, it’ll still make for a pleasant walk with your family or friends.
4. Gateway Park West Loop
- Length: 3.8 miles
- Elevation: 101.7 feet
Ok, this hike is cheating a bit as it’s not actually in Dallas but rather in the nearby city of Fort Worth! This city has lots of attractions of its own, including a few beautiful treks, and they are all worth checking out if you’re a tourist in the area.
This shady and straightforward loop is ideal for walkers, while more experienced mountain bikers will enjoy the jumps, walls, seesaws, and other attractions throughout the trail. Even those with no prior experience can get in on the fun!
Although if you are just starting out with mountain biking, you should probably avoid the more difficult sections. Whether you’re biking or walking, when you’re on this trail you will be treated to views of the river and even a secret waterfall!
5. White Rock Lake Trail
- Length: 9.3 miles
- Elevation: 183.7 feet
The White Rock Lake Trail is a popular path loop that is located about 15 minutes from the heart of the city. The trail is open throughout the year and is suitable for hikers of all experience levels.
Because it is paved with concrete, traveling along it on foot, bike, or run is a smooth and easy experience.
You have the option of going all the way around the lake, which will provide you with views of the surrounding city parks and peaceful neighborhoods, or you can cut across to shorten the trail a bit.
Visit the White Rock Lake Museum and Bath House Cultural Center while you’re in the neighborhood to find out more about the history of the area, the Dallas Arboretum, and the Botanical Garden to take in the sights and smells of the local flora.
If you have the time you should also visit the bird-watching zone set up by the Audubon Society to get a glimpse of some of the most beautiful native animals and plants!
6. Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
- Length: 2.5 miles
- Elevation: 128 feet
One of the most popular trails for hiking in the Dallas area is located in the scenic Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. To find this trail, you’ll have to leave Dallas though and head to Plano, Texas, which is approximately 30 to 45 minutes away from the central business district of the city.
If you wish to explore more of the area, there are a variety of side hikes and dirt pathways you can take along the way, as well as the paved track that the loop itself follows.
You will be rewarded with beautiful wildflowers, dry creek beds, and cool streams as you make your way along the trail. It’s like a dream come true for kids (or adults) who are always wanting to climb about and discover new things.
Before planning your trips please remember that every Wednesday between the hours of 5:00 AM and 2:00 PM, Arbor Hills will be closed for maintenance.
7. Trinity River Audubon Center
- Length: 2.5 miles
- Elevation: 72.2 feet
It only takes around 15 to 20 minutes to get to the Trinity River Audubon Center Trail from the heart of Downtown Dallas, making it an ideal location for a quick escape to enjoy some hiking.
You could even do this trail in the morning and then visit some of Dallas’s best city attractions in the afternoon. During your time on the trail, there is a good possibility that you will see some wild animals, such as white-tailed deer or some native bird species.
Due to the low elevation gain and the short amount of time needed to complete the out-and-back portion of the trail, this is an excellent option for families with young children.
8. Cedar Brake Trail
- Length: 2.2 miles
- Elevation: 246.1 feet
Although Dallas is known for its flat terrain, this breathtaking loop in Cedar Hill State Park features several climbs that are challenging enough to make you break a sweat.
This trail is more appropriate for intermediate skill levels due to the more challenging terrain and the number of ups and downs, although there are lots of benches scattered along the path where you may stop and catch your breath.
The low sections of the trail pass by a peaceful lake and a great deal of dense vegetation that looks particularly stunning in the fall. The high points of the trail offer expansive views.
Even though it’s only 20 minutes away from the city center, there aren’t too many people here, especially if you avoid visiting during the busiest periods of the day, such as on the weekends and in the evenings.
9. Boulder Park Trail
- Length: 4 miles
- Elevation: 259.2 feet
If you love mountain biking, then this is the trail for you! This track is not only popular among hikers and runners, but it also attracts cyclists because of its steep inclines and hairpin curves, which together create an exhilarating experience.
If you choose to travel on foot, you should move in the opposite direction of the bikers heading toward you so that you can see them coming and they can avoid you safely.
Although it is popular throughout the year, the months of March through October are ideal for a visit to this forested area because of its proximity to the city center (just 20 minutes away), and you’ll be able to experience all that spring and summer have to offer here.
10. Penitentiary Hollow Trail
- Length: 1.2 miles
- Elevation: 187 feet
You’ll need to travel further from Downtown if you want to explore the wonderful scenery that Central Texas has to offer.
It takes about an hour and a half to drive west of the city center to reach Lake Mineral Wells State Park, which is home to some of the most breathtaking hiking trails in the Dallas area, including this remote and mountainous site.
Even though it’s just a quick out-and-back hike, there are a lot of interesting things to look at and learn about at Penitentiary Hollow. Explore the nooks and crannies along the walk as you look out over the lake, climb rocky slopes, and explore little caves.
Not only are the singular formations very cool to look at, but they also provide excellent opportunities for rock climbing.
11. North Shore Trail
- Length: 18 miles
- Elevation: 846.5 feet
Rockledge Park, which is located on the lovely Lake Grapevine shoreline, can be reached from Flower Mound in a quick and easy journey of around thirty minutes. Unlike almost every other trail in Dallas, this one is more hilly than flat.
Mountain bikers will find this area to be a paradise because of the significant elevation fluctuations and difficult terrain.
Hikers should keep an eye out for any riders heading their way, but other than that, they are free to get into a challenging out-and-back hike that rewards you with views of the lake, intriguing rock formations, and deep woodlands.
12. Oak Cliff Outer Loop
- Length: 6.5 miles
- Elevation: 344.5 feet
This trail is just a 15-minute drive from the center of Downtown and features a plethora of twists, turns, and side trails for visitors to explore. Through the path that winds through a dense forest, you’ll find people walking, trail running, and mountain biking.
If you go to this trail make sure to keep a map on you at all times because the miles of trails are not always clearly signposted and many visitors have reported getting a little lost along the way.
If you can manage to stay on course, the constantly changing landscape will keep things interesting, and the abundance of hills will ensure that you get plenty of exercises.
13. Canyon Ridge Trail
- Length: 5.9 miles
- Elevation: 590.6 feet
Many people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area love this hiking path because it’s one of the region’s very best options. It presents many demanding ascents and descents, which contribute to the overall difficulty of the workout.
Since the trail is both well-maintained and well-marked, even novice hikers won’t get lost along the way, although they may find the trail challenging if they don’t have the skill level for it.
Put on some sturdy footwear, and take some time to appreciate the verdant woods and the native flora and fauna in the area. Guests have reported seeing armadillos, deer, and more.
Weekends and holidays are the only times when reservations are not required, so the best time to visit this location for easy access and fewer people is during the weekdays.
14. Cattail Pond
- Length: 2.5 miles
- Elevation: 200.1 feet
Do you want to see wildlife, expansive panoramas, and hills with a gentle slopes? Say no more! This trail in Cedar Hill State Park, which is about 25 minutes outside of Downtown, passes through a variety of Texas flora and fauna.
It has both wide swaths of terrain and shady portions that are surrounded by trees, and it makes a pit stop at Cattail Pond exactly halfway through. Your four-legged companions are more than welcome to go on the trek with you, but they must remain on a lead at all times.
Be prepared for a lot of people on this trail though, as the spectacular scenery typically attracts impressive crowds. Throughout the year, this location is prone to experiencing high levels of foot traffic.
Top Tips For Hiking In Dallas
Throw Away Your Trash
The problem of littering on hiking trails caused by people dropping garbage, dog waste, and other items is getting worse all over the United States. Leave no trace as you walk.
Watch Out For Wildlife
Many wild animals call National Parks and hiking trails their home, and some of them may feel threatened or uncomfortable around people. Wild animals should never be startled, disturbed, approached, or fed while you’re walking.
Don’t Take Things From The Trail
You shouldn’t take anything you find on the trail home with you. Rather, contribute to the maintenance of the exceptional American heritage. You are required to leave any artifacts where you discover them and to inform a ranger of their location.
Don’t Start Fires
To prevent ground scarring and wildfires, only use fire rings when permitted to have a campfire. If you get caught starting a fire then you’ll be heavily fined.
Know Your Limits
Before starting out on a trail, check the length and elevation to make sure that it’s within your skills. On top of that, you should always make sure to have sunscreen, insect repellent, and clothing and shoes that are ideal for trekking.
It’s a good idea to let others know where you will be, especially on more difficult treks that are further away from civilization in the wilderness.
Bring Enough Water
Last but most certainly not least, make sure you have plenty of water. If anything happens and you get lost, you need to be sure that you can survive on what you have until you’re found.
You won’t want to miss out on the miles of trails and breathtaking views that can be found around Dallas! There are miles of hiking trails just waiting to be discovered and explored all the way from Fort Worth to Oklahoma.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a serene path to take your children on during the week or a challenging path to ride your bike on on the weekend; the Dallas region has it all. Gather your supplies, and get hiking!
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