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Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails around Dallas

ditch your weekend duties and take a trek through one of these trails made for walking and hiking.

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 and walking trails. (Looking for the best biking spots? We’ve got them here.)

Pack the stroller, skateboard, sunnies and water bottles and explore the best family-friendly hiking trails in the Dallas-Fort Worth area during the fleeting few months of crisp park weather. And for families hitting the outdoors on New Year’s Day, learn more about the nation-wide First Day Hikes program at tpwd.texas.gov and stateparks.org.
*Editor’s Picks
*Stroller Friendly

Dallas County

Dallas
Cedar Ridge Preserve

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
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: Uptown Dallas; entrances from the American Airlines Center to Southern Methodist University in Dallas
Best for: Walking, jogging

Oak Cliff Nature Preserve
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
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: Dallas, 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
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: Dallas; 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 Trail
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: Dallas, various entrances and parking lots, many on Lawther Drive
Best for: Walking, running, biking

*Cedar Hill
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center
Head to Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center for an easy and educational nature hike. (Bikes are not allowed.) With trails that reach some of the highest points in Dallas County, the center offers a nice view of Joe Pool Lake and even AT&T Stadium in Arlington, if the weather is right. Try the Canyon Floor Trail for a half-mile, stroller-friendly walk. Admission is free—but go online to reserve tickets, as entry is currently limited.
Where: 1206 FM 1382, Cedar Hill

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Collin County

Plano
*Arbor Hills Nature Center

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

*Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve
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 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

Frisco
Beaver Bend Trail

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

Allen
*Celebration Park

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

Richardson
Spring Creek Trail

This rural oasis in Richardson 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

McKinney
**Towne Lake Recreation Area

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

*Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary
The Heard offers unique hiking through its 289-acre wildlife sanctuary. While you make your way along self-guided or interpreted nature trails, encourage your kids to spot birds and other wildlife. We recommend the appropriately named Hoot Owl Trail for its bird’s-eye view. The trails aren’t paved and, in terms of strollers, are accessible only to running models. Bikes are not permitted. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for kids age 3 and up.
Where: 1 Nature Place, McKinney

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Tarrant County

Fort Worth
Trinity Trails

The Trinity Trails are a Texas-sized network of paths for walking, running and biking, spanning more than 100 miles through 31 neighborhoods and 21 parks. For newbies, we recommend sticking close to Trinity Park off University Drive. The paths at Eagle Mountain Park are also ideal for a kid-friendly hike. (Bikes aren’t allowed at that section of the Trinity Trails, and neither is the family pet.)
Where: Various locations in Fort Worth

Arlington
*River Legacy Parks
There’s no shortage of routes at River Legacy Parks, where the 8-mile, paved hike-and-bike trail follows the bends of the Trinity River. (The park has a 10-mile mountain bike trail as well.) Visitors can also enjoy free nature trails at the adjacent River Legacy Living Science Center—where your children will love the interactive exhibits and terrariums with native wildlife. Admission to the center’s Discovery Room is $5 for age 13 and up (seniors are $4) and $3 for ages 3–12.
Where: 701 N.W. Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington

Keller
*Big Bear Creek Greenbelt
A paved trail along Big Bear Creek takes walkers, bike riders and stroller-pushers through parks and natural areas. Break your journey up with a stop at Bear Creek Park (about a mile from Keller Sports Park), with two play sets, then keep going to Keller Town Hall to view landmarks through a special telescope.
Where:
 1 Sport Parkway, Keller


Denton County

Pilot Point
*Ray Roberts Lake State Park

Explore mile after mile of multiuse trails at Ray Roberts Lake State Park. We enjoy the Randy Bell Scenic Trail, a paved loop of just over 2 miles. Leashed pets are permitted on the trails. Head toward the water to find play structures and picnic tables for a post-walk (or post-ride) treat. Adults pay a $7 entrance fee, while kids 12 and younger are free.
Where: Isle du Bois Unit, 100 PW 4137, Pilot Point

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Image: iStock