Whether you’re hearing “Look, Mom, no hands!” or your littles aren’t quite ready to pop off the training wheels, a family bike ride is a good excuse for vitamin D and some uninterrupted time together. Here, we’ve mapped out the best trails in North Texas, for short legs and long. Go on, start chasing pavement.
Trinity Skyline Trail, Dallas
For kiddos mesmerized by skyscrapers and construction, the Trinity Skyline Trail is a must. The 4.6-mile paved trail provides a front-row seat to the downtown Dallas skyline while you coast along the Trinity River and Dallas Floodway. Park in the lot by Trammell Crow Park off Sylvan Avenue; from there, bike 1.3 miles south to the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge, where you’ll find racks to set your bikes before cooling off at the spray ground. When the kids are ready to hit the trail again, keep pedaling south to log more miles or cross the bridge and ride home along the opposite side of the river.
3700 Sylvan Ave., Dallas, 214/671-9025
White Rock Lake Trail, Dallas
This 9.3-mile lakeside loop (keep an eye out for ducks and other water wildlife) is best on weekdays or early mornings, when it’s less crowded. From Northwest Highway, turn onto West Lawther Drive and park in the first lot you come to without having to make a U-turn. This side of the lake is quieter, and serious cyclists remain on West Lawther instead of on the paved trail with your kiddos. After the bike ride but before leaving, drive further down West Lawther to T. & P. Hill, where there’s a large playground , restrooms and plenty of places to picnic. Note: Avoid the other side of the lake near Garland Road and the spillway, which isn’t family-friendly at all — walkers, runners and speedy cyclists share a narrower path so there’s no room for novice bikers to pedal safely.
4600 W. Lawther Drive, Dallas, 214/670-1923
Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve, Plano
Plano’s largest park is home to 5.7 miles of paved trails with options for beginning bikers. The main park entrance off Los Rios Boulevard at Morton Vale Road has parking, restrooms and water fountains, plus a 12-foot-wide paved loop around a lake, just under a mile long. To lengthen your trip, venture south on the paved trail that splits off at the eastern tip of the lake — it’s only 2 miles to the playground at Bob Woodruff Park. Download the tree identification guide at plano.gov before you go so kiddos can find and identify hackberries, redbuds and cottonwoods.
5901 Los Rios Blvd., Plano, 972/941-7250
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, Plano
Three miles of paved trails offer a scenic ride through woods and wildflowers, with loops that let you customize your route based on the experience and energy levels of the kiddos. From the main parking lot on Parker Road, head north to link to the Arbor Vista Trail, a 0.4-mile out-and-back route with blackland prairie views. Rejoin the Arbor Hills Loop (1.3 miles) and take the Tower Trail to the Observation Tower for a panorama of the city and an extra mile on the odometer. Before you head home, be sure to stop at the sprawling playground near the parking lot.
6701 W. Parker Road, Plano, 972/941-7250
River Legacy Park, Arlington
Route options are endless along this 8-mile paved trail following the Trinity River, so you can customize your ride to suit your brood’s cycling skills. We recommend parking at the playground after entering the park off Northwest Green Oaks Boulevard (just west of the River Legacy Living Science Center). Pedal north toward Snider Creek and loop past portable restrooms and a drinking fountain. If you want to extend your ride beyond this 1-mile loop, exit the path shortly after you pass the Legacy Pavilion and follow the westward trail along the Trinity River greenbelt until you reach the end (about 1.2 miles), keeping an eye out for birds, fish and other wildlife.
701 NW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington, 817/459-5474
Oak Grove Park, Grapevine
The paved Oak Grove Trail at the southern end of Lake Grapevine is hemmed in by trees but wide enough for the whole gang. Start at the corner of Oak Grove Loop and Darren G. Medlin Trail (there’s parking at the adjacent baseball complex), and roll south past sports fields before plunging into the forest for a few miles of lakeside scenery. The 1.3-mile trail is linear, so you may want to turn around when you meet up with the Dove Loop Trail. Wrap up your ride with burgers on the dock at Big Daddy’s Ship Store.
2520 Oak Grove Loop S., Grapevine
Big Bear Creek Greenbelt, Keller
The paved trail along Big Bear Creek stretches nearly the entire width of Keller, but you can break up the trip for smaller cyclists. Steer onto the 10-foot-wide trail as it skirts the southern end of Keller Sports Park, and head east to Bear Creek Park (about a mile away) for a water break and a spin on the two play sets. Have bigger kids with you? Keep pedaling for another 2 miles to Keller Town Hall and the Pathways to Play anamorphic sculptures, which are unidentifiable to the naked eye but become familiar landmarks when you peer through a special telescope.
1 Sport Parkway, Keller, 817/743-4300
John Barfield Trail, North Richland Hills
The newly completed John Barfield Trail provides plenty of room for you and your littles to ride side-by-side past freshly planted trees and flowers. Park by the fire station at Shadywood Lane and Davis Boulevard and head west to follow the 10-foot-wide trail as it meanders along the greenbelt. If you need a snack break or want to make a playground detour, veer off the path after a mile and a half to hit the playground at Dr. Pillow Park, where you’ll find climbing walls and water fountains. Keep riding west, or turn around at the park for a 3-mile round trip.
8201 Davis Blvd., North Richland Hills, 817/427-6620
Trinity Trails, Fort Worth
We’d be remiss not to mention Fort Worth’s iconic Trinity Trails. If you don’t know which section of the 70 miles of trails to tackle first, we recommend sticking close to Trinity Park off University Drive — from the playground area, head toward the river and Trinity Park Drive to hop on the trail. Make the 2-mile ride to Colonial Parkway to board the Forest Park Miniature Railroad ($5 adults; $4 children) or bike 3.5 miles to the Clearfork Farmers Market at The Trailhead to make a picnic lunch from the fresh local fare.
2401 University Drive, Fort Worth, 817/335-2491
Central Park, Lewisville
This looping, 1-mile trail is the perfect excursion for little legs that can’t do long distances. Enter off Edmonds and park near the playground (which is worth a stop before or after your ride). Along the paved trail that circles the park, enjoy the wooded landscape and protection from the hot summer sun. The trail is only 3–4 feet wide, so encourage your littles to steer to the right.
1899 S. Edmonds Lane, Lewisville, 972/219-3400
Corinth Community Park, Corinth
Pack your sports gear and head to Corinth Community Park. Park in the lot between the baseball and softball fields for direct access to the 1.5-mile paved trail that meanders past the sports fields (look out for foul balls!), and kick up your bike stand for a break at the playground next to field 4. If you have mini ballers in tow, make sure to hit the basketball courts just past the playground for a game of horse. To stay on the paved trail, turn around when you reach Corinth Parkway.
3700 Corinth Parkway, Corinth, 940/498-3200
Leonard Johns Park, Flower Mound
There are distractions aplenty for curious kiddos along the trails at Leonard Johns Park. Park next to the Lewisville ISD Natatorium, then cycle east on the sidewalk along Timber Creek Road and turn left when you reach the 8-foot-wide paved trail. You’ll roll past four tennis courts, so bring along your rackets for some friendly competition. By the water’s edge, your little ones can spot bass, perch and other fish (or even cast a line). The looping trail is less than a mile, so once you circle through the mix of wooded and open scenery, make the quick and easy .9-mile ride south to Parker Square for a well-deserved pizza at Enzo’s.
1850 Timber Creek Road, 972/874-6000
Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Pilot Point
Explore Ray Roberts Lake State Park on 12 miles of multiuse trails — for shorter legs, we recommend the Randy Bell Scenic Trail in the Isle du Bois Unit. To get there from the park’s main gate, ask for directions to the Hawthorn campsite, which provides plenty of parking and easy access to the 2.2-mile, paved center loop. (You’ll need to pay the $7 per person entrance fee, but kids 12 and younger are free.) Bring your pup — leashed pets are allowed on the trails too. Mid-ride, take a detour down to the water, where you’ll find a playground, swimming area and picnic tables.
100 PW 4137, Pilot Point, 940/349-7275
This article was first published in the May 2017 issues of CollinChild, DallasChild, FortWorthChild and NorthTexasChild. ©ISTOCK