Don't act so surprised. There's some serious walking to be done in this town.
When people think about Dallas, hiking is not something that immediately comes to mind. Although it's true that there may not be any actual mountains nearby, that doesn't mean locals don't like to get out and make the best of the terrain they do have. If you fancy yourself a hiker, strap on your boots and give these trails a try before abandoning all hope and hopping on the next flight to Colorado.
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Trails
You've got options at this 200-acre nature escape in Plano. There's a three-mile paved trail, a 2.8-mile biking trail, and many off-road trails for hikers. Trails include the Arbor Hills loop, the Arbor Vista Trail, and the Tower Trail. All have their high points, though the Tower Trail takes North Texans to new heights, offering an observatory at the top. By the end of your day, you'll have explored three ecoregions—Blackland Prairie, Riparian Forest, and the Upland Forest.
Dogwood Cannon Audubon Center Trails
This forested canyon offers more than two miles of trails. The Canyon Floor trail (rated easy) is for the plant lover in the group who is bound to marvel at the vast collection of vines—including the Greenbrier, Grapevine, Poison Ivy, and Virginia Creeper. The West Loop Trail (rated moderate to difficult) takes hikers to 150 feet in elevation within the first half-mile. Once at the top, experience panoramic views of North Texas. Be on the lookout for turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks. We should note that this is actually in Cedar Hill and takes about 35 minutes to get there with no traffic.
Oak Cliff Nature Preserve
Who knew that one of our favorite neighborhoods for dining and drinking also has hiking potential? Deep in the heart of Oak Cliff, you'll find a 121-acre wooded wonderland that was preserved by the Texas Land Conservancy. This eight-mile trail has six loops—a complaint among some hikers, though most succumb to the beauty of the Texas wildflowers in the spring and decide it's worth getting a little dizzy.
Trinity River Audubon Center
This former illegal dump site is now one of Dallas' best-kept outdoor secrets. As the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States, this is the go-to destination for Dallasites who have a passion for birding. This 120-acre property has five miles of trails that lead patrons along the Trinity River. By the time the hike is complete, you'll have crossed into three different ecosystems—wetland, forest, and prairie. Keep an eye out for birds like the scissor-tailed flycatcher, painted bunting, butterflies, and even bob cats.
White Rock Lake Trail
This beloved East Dallas trail is always bustling with bikers, runners, and power walkers. It's no Yosemite, but considering its proximity to downtown, it's actually quite zen. Although this trail lacks in elevation, its up close and personal view of the lake makes up for it. The entire 9.33 miles takes you past the Dallas Arboretum, Winfrey Point, the Bath House Cultural Center, the Pump Station, and a white egret or two.