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Connemara Meadow Preserve

Connemara Meadow Preserve
Public access through Suncreek Park, 601 Alma Dr., Allen
Member access through private gate at 300 Tatum Dr.
Hours: Open dawn through dusk year-round
Admission: Free admission; annual memberships start at $50. See online for a list of member benefits.
Parking: Free

Since a land trust established the Connemara Meadow Preserve in 1981, the 72-acre plot south of Rowlett Creek in Allen has remained a best-kept secret for nature lovers — and we mean secret. The meadow is not immediately accessible by road and nary a sign points passersby to the entrance. But this month, the Connemara Conservancy Foundation that protects the meadow from urban development is set to install directional signs and officially switch access from members-only to the public.
To find this secluded spot, park near the playground at Allen’s Suncreek Park and follow the Six-Cities Trail, a bike- and dog-friendly paved walkway. An intersecting gravel path opens up to a lower and upper meadow, sectioned off by tree lines and lush with purple wildflowers, butterflies, small forest creatures and stalks of cotton remnant from the meadow’s early days as farmland. 
A hike along the perimeter takes about an hour, but leave your strollers at home. The trodden paths are best suited for kids big enough for their first pair of hiking boots. Before making your first solo trek, get an introduction to the area by joining one of the free events held on early Saturday or Sunday mornings each month, such as the all-ages bird walks guided by a master naturalist. You’ll need to grab your own pair of binoculars from home for the next program on September 6.