Family-Friendly Trails in Collin & Dallas Counties
Words Julia Bunch
Published November 2015 DallasChild
Updated February 12, 2019
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If your last several family outings consisted of carpooling to swimming practice or a rushed takeout dinner before bedtime, ditch your weekend duties and take a trek on one of these hiking, biking and walking trails perfect for the whole family. Pack the stroller, skateboard, sunnies and water bottles and explore the best family-friendly trails in the Dallas area during the fleeting few months of crisp park weather.

Collin county

Arbor Hills Nature Center in Plano
At 200 acres, this Plano hotspot boasts 3 miles of paved trails and 2.8 miles of off-road bike paths. Unfortunately, because of the popularity of this nature center, spotting fauna such as bunnies or fawns is rare. Flora is plentiful and especially scenic during cooler fall months when the trees change to red, orange and yellow. Make a day of your outdoor adventure by packing a picnic and letting the kids run wild on the playground next to the restrooms and water fountains.
Where: 6701 W. Parker Road, Plano
Best for: Biking, walking

Beaver Bend Trail in Frisco
For a park pit stop with a playground, pond and walking trail, the Beavers Bend Park serves as a trailhead for the 1.2-mile Beaver Bend Trail. The paved concrete trail offers benches and a pavilion for resting on the sunny trail. Plus, a couple spots within the 26-acre green space offer a more off-road experience on primitive trails. After your hiking adventure, let the kids run wild on the playground at Beavers Bend Park. Parking can be found at the trailhead adjacent to the park.
Where: 5011 Legacy Drive, Frisco
Best for: Walking, running

Celebration Park in Allen
The playground here, KidMania, constitutes a visit even if you don’t plan on taking advantage of the 1.5-mile walking trail. This wheelchair-accessible playground and splash pad are one of the largest playscapes in the area with six impressive climbing structures and plenty of swings and educational panels. Pack the scooters, skateboards and strollers for the wide, paved trail surrounding the 104-acre park. If the playground doesn’t keep your littles’ attention (which seems unlikely), try a tennis match, basketball game or soccer scrimmage at one of the respective fields. Families with young kids populate this park in packs, making parking difficult at times.
Where: 701 Angel Parkway, Allen
Best for: Walking, running

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve in Plano
This park gets five stars for families with young kids thanks to real restrooms (not portable toilets), paved trails plenty wide enough for strollers, and many benches and tables for resting. Plano’s largest park — a whopping 800 acres — occupies 3.5 miles of paved and 5 miles of unpaved trails along Rowlett Creek. Plenty of flora and fauna will keep your little nature lovers amused. One section of the park offers equestrian riding trails. The Oak Point Amphitheatre hosts live music throughout the year.
Where: 5901 Los Rios Blvd., Plano
Best for: Hiking, walking

Russell Creek Park in Plano
In comparison to Plano’s more popular green spaces, crowds at Russell Creek Park remain calmer. Though the soccer fields, basketball court and playground won’t leave your energetic littles disappointed. The 3.6-mile loop surrounds a small pond, which houses many kinds of water birds. Bikes and strollers are welcomed on this wide, paved path. Parking, restrooms and water fountains can easily be found throughout the park. Parking lots fill up quickly on weekends when the adjacent soccer fields hold youth games.
Where: 3500 McDermott Road, Plano
Best for: Walking, running, biking

Spring Creek Trail in Richardson
This rural oasis minutes away from Central Expressway offers a more nature-centered trail outing than those surrounding the Dallas skyline. You’ll spot many birds, bugs, fish and other critters if you walk much of the 4.5-mile trek. The heavily wooded trail follows Spring Creek, making you feel off the beaten path —er, paved path, that is.
Where: Get to the trail early to claim a spot in meek parking lot on the corner of Renner Road and Central Expressway. The trail runs from the corner of Alma Road and President George Bush Turnpike to Plano Road.
Best for: Hiking, walking

Towne Lake Recreation Area in McKinney
While the 1.2-mile trail at this park remains modest, the sand volleyball courts, public art, horseshoe pits, playground and disk golf course allot amusement for all ages at this 108-acre park. The loop trail circles the 22-acre fountain pond with a paved path plenty wide for strollers and skateboards. Pack your stale bread to share with hungry ducks. Plenty of parking can be found in the lot southeast of the loop, adjacent to the Wilson Creek Softball Complex.
Where: 1405 Wilson Creek Parkway, McKinney
Best for: Walking, running

dallas county

Cedar Ridge Preserve in Dallas
With more than a dozen trails covering 9 miles, you can pick the distance and difficulty level best suited to you. Bikers are not allowed on these trails, so you don’t need to worry about your not-so-sure-footed littles getting trampled. With scenic overlooks of rolling hills, this green space feels more like the Hill Country than the Big D’s backyard. Don’t miss the butterfly garden, just off the entrance road. A suggest donation of $3 helps maintain and improve the preserve.
Where: 7171 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas
Best for: Hiking, walking

Katy Trail in Dallas
This 3.5-mile trail with 12-foot paved paths outdoes a walk around the neighborhood on any sunny Texas day. With separate parallel trails for walkers and runners, the heavily shaded Katy Trail proves ideal for slow walkers, strollers and wandering kids. The heavy crowds on Katy Trail make bike riding difficult. If your littles get hungry, make a pit stop at one of the many businesses along the path, such as Starbucks and Katy Trail Ice House (beware they do not have high chairs). Benches, water fountains, shade trees and restrooms make this an ideal outdoor outing for families.
Where: Various entrances from the American Airlines Center to Southern Methodist University in Dallas
Best for: Walking, jogging

Oak Cliff Nature Preserve in Dallas
With six trails ranging from 1 mile to 2.25 miles, this green space offers a great alternative for kids wanting an authentic hiking experience without pitching a tent. The dirt trails total around 8 miles over 121 acres, and remain the most popular for mountain bikers and members of the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association (DORBA). Beware that this trail is primitive and has no bathrooms or water fountains. Plus, volunteer clean up days where families can learn the importance of stewardship and land preservation occur every month at the preserve.
Where: 2875 Pierce St., Dallas
Best for: Biking, hiking

Santa Fe Trail in Dallas
The Santa Fe Trail assures fewer crowds than neighboring White Rock Lake trails, but not significantly. Restaurants along the trail, such as The Lot, make the space feel urban, yet the wooded space gives off a greener feel than trails more west of town. Use the 4.5-mile paved trail as a starting point to connect to a trail at White Rock Lake, or to shop and dine in Deep Ellum. Bikers heavily populate the 12-foot paved tails, so wandering kids should be watched closely.
Where: Multiple entrances beginning at the southern tip of White Rock lake and ending at Hill Street in Deep Ellum.
Best for: Walking, running

Trinity Skyline Trail in Dallas
This 4.6-mile hard-surface trail draws fewer crowds than neighboring Katy Trail, making it more conducive to bikers and four-legged family members. Beware that this no-frills trail does not offer bathrooms or water fountains. Plus, bring your camera because, as the name of the trail suggests, you’ll get a remarkable view of Big D’s skyline. Soak in some sunrays and the view from one of many benches.
Where: The three entry points for this trail (Trammell Crow Park, Continental Avenue Bridge West Dallas Gateway and Trinity Overlook) all offer modest parking.
Best for: Biking, walking

White Rock Lake Hike & Bike Trail in Dallas
The 9.4 mile loop has made a name for itself as Dallas’ most well-know hike and bike trail for good reason. For one, you can’t beat the picturesque view, and for another, the well-maintained trail accommodates walkers, bikers, dogs and strollers on the wide, paved paths. (Though watch out for a few sticky spots where the path narrows and bikers can come around corners quickly.) With plenty of parking, restrooms, tables and playgrounds, this nature adventure could easily occupy an entire day.
Where: Various entrances and parking lots, many on Lawther Drive
Best for: Walking, running, biking

Published November 2015, updated March 2018