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Hiking in Dallas: 17 Epic Dallas Trails

Katelyn van Sligtenhorst
Latest posts by Katelyn van Sligtenhorst (see all)

Any resident of this urban metropolis will tell you that hiking in Dallas is a total must-do. Getting out and about in the city’s green spaces is a great way to make the most of the dozens of parks, nature reserves, and secluded spots nearby Downtown.

While city life is all about shiny shopping malls, art museums, and buzzing bars and restaurants, these Dallas trails offer a quiet escape from the typical tourist haunts and showcase the lovely landscapes central Texas has to offer.

After all, the hiking community is really vibrant and present all over North Texas.

With 17 diverse hikes on this list, you can find a trek suitable for any age or ability, plus enough serene waterways and lush foliage to balance out the hustle and bustle of Downtown.

Keep reading for all the insider tips on how to get to each spot, trail lengths and difficulties, unmissable lookouts, wildlife to watch out for, and more.

Want even more pristine Southern nature? Check out our list of the 16 best national parks in Texas, some of which aren’t too far from Dallas!

Tips and Advice for Hiking in Dallas

Trash your trash: People leaving trash, dog poop, and other paraphernalia on trails across the USA is becoming an increasing problem. Leave no trace.

Watch out for wildlife: Some animals might feel or be unsafe near humans. Never startle, disturb, approach, or feed wild animals.

Don’t pocket the past: Help preserve the great American heritage. Leave all artifacts exactly where you find them and report their location to a ranger.

Campfire only in fire ring: When allowed, only have a campfire in fire rings to avoid ground scarring and wildfires.

Know your limits: The reason we include trail info, such as distance and elevation gain, is so that you can plan according to your physical condition. Beyond that, always wear sunscreen, insect repellent, and appropriate clothing/hiking shoes. For instance, these trail-runners have the perfect balance of breathability and terrain grip.

Share your plans: Because some trails are more challenging and far out in nature, it’s always better to let others know where you’ll be.

Drink plenty of water: Last but definitely not least. Pack enough potable water with you. We love this high-quality Camelbak and it fits 70oz of water.

Buy the America The Beautiful Pass: If you plan to visit three national parks within a year, the best value is to buy the America the Beautiful pass. For only $80, you get access to every US national park with this handy national park pass. We highly recommend it! Click here to buy you America the Beautiful pass.

Pssst: If you want to experience more of the state and see more of the Lone Star’s wilderness up close, you might want to check out these incredible hikes in Texas!

Best Dallas Hiking Trails

Dallas is a fast-growing city, with new institutions popping up every week.

As the concrete jungle flourishes, Dallasites and tourists alike can still snag a quick getaway to fresh air, dense forests, and babbling brooks with these nearby hiking trails.

Here are our favorites!

Easy Dallas Hikes

White Rock Lake Trail

Pearsall park is one of the best San Antonio parks perfect for joggers
  • Length: 9.3 miles | Elevation gain: 183.7 feet | Guide

Just 15 minutes from the city center, White Rock Lake Trail is a super popular trail (loop) that is open all year round and accessible for any skill level.

It’s a concrete trail, which makes for smooth and easy hiking, biking, or jogging.

You can make your way around the entire lake, with views of city parks and quiet neighborhoods along the way, or just hop on and hop off for a shorter stretch.

While in the area, check out the White Rock Lake Museum and Bath House Cultural Center to learn more about local history, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden to stop and smell local flora, or the Audubon Society bird-watching zone to spot some gorgeous local species!

Katy Trail

Katy Trail offers some of the best hiking in Dallas
Texas redbud trees blooming along the trail
  • Length: 7.5 miles | Elevation gain: 196.6 feet | Guide

Turtle Creek and Oak Lawn are two of Dallas’ trendiest Downtown districts, and Katy Trail is conveniently located right in between the two!

This out-and-back hike is like Goldilocks. It’s not too short but not too long and has a lovely mix of city views and lush landscaping, with the bonus of gorgeous wildflowers in the spring.

It’s perfect for everything from family strolls to morning jogs to afternoon dog walks.

Locals love this spot for its shade and wide, paved pathways, while tourists will enjoy its proximity to popular restaurants and other attractions.

But all good things have their faults. Because it’s such an all-in-one destination, this urban hike can get quite crowded, especially in the evenings.

Cedar Brake Trail via Cattail Pond Trail

Cedar Hill State Park is one of the best beaches in Dallas
  • Length: 2.2 miles | Elevation gain: 246.1 feet | Guide

Dallas is famously flat, but this stunning loop in Cedar Hill State Park offers some climbs good enough to get your sweat on!

The rougher terrain and abundance of ups and downs make it more geared to intermediate skill levels, but there are plenty of benches along the way where you can take a breather.

The high points boast sweeping views, while the low points pass by a tranquil lake and tons of thick foliage that gets especially gorgeous in autumn.

Even though it’s just 20 minutes from the city center, the crowds don’t get too bad here, especially if you visit outside peak times like weekends and evenings.

Spring Creek Interpretive Walking Trail

Spring Creek Interpretive Walking Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Dallas
  • Length: 0.9 miles | Elevation gain: 13.1 feet | Guide

This one is a bit farther out than our other hiking trails near Dallas. That being said, it’s still just 30 minutes from Downtown in Spring Creek Forest. (See, we told you this city was packed with great green spaces)!

Short, sweet, and super kid-friendly, the loop is a safe choice for family outings—and a great thing to do in Dallas with kids.

You can expect dirt trails, creek overlooks, and flat terrain, perfect for a casual stroll or a bit of adventuring. Keep an eye out for local wildlife! There’s nothing more magical than spotting animals in their natural habitat!

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Trail

Fort Richardson State Park is one of the state parks near Dallas
  • Length: 2.5 miles | Elevation gain: 128 feet | Guide

The beautiful Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Trail is a classic option for hikes near Dallas.

To find it, you have to venture to one of the city’s most bustling suburbs–Plano, Texas–about 30-45 minutes from Downtown.

The loop itself follows a smooth, paved trail, but there are a number of side treks and dirt paths along the way if you want to venture out.

Along the way, you’ll be treated to wildflowers, dry creek beds, and refreshing streams. For kids (or adults) that love climbing around and exploring, it’s a dream come true.

Arbor Hills closes for maintenance every Wednesday from 5:00 AM-2:00 PM.

Gateway Park West Loop

Head to Gateway Park West Loop for the best hiking in Dallas
Courtesy of Visit Fort Worth/Austin James
  • Length: 3.8 miles | Elevation gain: 101.7 feet | Guide

Technically, this one strays a little from hiking in Dallas. It’s hiking in Fort Worth! This neighboring city has plenty of attractions of its own, including a few gorgeous treks.

This shady, easy loop is perfect for hikers, while more advanced mountain bikers will love the jumps, walls, see-saws, and other features.

Beginners can also get in on the action! If you’re new to mountain biking, just bypass the tricker parts.

Whichever mode of transport you choose, you’ll be treated to river views and even a hidden waterfall!

Trinity River Audubon Center Trail

Trinity River Audubon Center Trail offers some of the best hiking in Dallas
  • Length: 2.5 miles | Elevation gain: 72.2 feet | Guide

For a quick escape to enjoy some hiking in Dallas between sightseeing, the Trinity River Audubon Center Trail offers quiet, tree-lined pathways and a river view just 15-20 minutes from Downtown.

There’s a good chance you’ll spot some wildlife on your walk, like white-tailed deer or native bird species.

This is a great trail for families with small children, as there isn’t much elevation gain, and the out-and-back takes only around an hour to hike.

Lemmon Lake via Trinity Forest Trail

Library and Comanche Loops Trail is a great trail for hiking in San Antonio with a dog
  • Length: 3.5 miles | Elevation gain: 36.1 feet | Guide

This paved, well-shaded out-and-back hike is quick and easy, a solid way to stretch your legs only 15 minutes from Downtown.

The majority of the hike is quite flat, so it’s popular with walkers and joggers. Still, it is also a great biking trail!

While the scenery isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, Lemmon Lake is a peaceful break from the road noise and crowds of other hiking destinations near Dallas.

A bonus for pet owners–pups are welcome on this trail!

Moderate Dallas Hikes

Piedmont Ridge Trail

Piedmont Ridge Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Dallas
  • Length: 1.3 miles | Elevation gain: 105 feet | Guide

Although this short out-and-back trail is a mere 15 minutes from Downtown, it still manages to feel isolated.

Chances are, you won’t run into too many others while out adventuring here.

Even better, this is one of the most scenic places to hike in Dallas, with forested surroundings, a few rocky climbs, and a small creek.

Keep an eye out for native birds and wildflowers in the spring, which are often covered in butterflies.

There are a few downsides, however. Visitors report that road noise is audible from the trail and that the trailhead can be a bit hard to find.

Still, there is a short path to your right after about a mile, and there’s a great spot to get some views. You can just glimpse the Trinity River bridges next to Downtown Dallas.

Boulder Park Trail

Boulder Park Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Dallas
Boulder Park Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Dallas
  • Length: 4 miles | Elevation gain: 259.2 feet | Guide

Calling all mountain bikers!

While this trail is enjoyed by hikers and runners as well, its elevation changes and sharp turns make it a total adrenaline rush for those on two wheels.

If you decide to go on foot, make sure to walk in the opposite direction so you can see bikers coming.

This wooded spot is just 20 minutes from the city center and heavily trafficked all year round, although the best time to visit is March-October.

Dorba Trail Loop

Dorba Trail Loop offers the best hiking in Dallas
  • Length: 7 miles | Elevation gain: 357.6 feet | Guide

It’s back to Cedar Hill State Park for Dorba Trail, a well-maintained and forested loop with lovely views of Joe Pool Lake.

Cedar Hill is just one of many state parks near Dallas, but it boasts some of the most pristine nature despite its proximity to the city’s skyscrapers and shopping malls.

In fact, you probably won’t run into too many others on your trek, aside from perhaps some native wildlife like bunnies or herons.

About 2.5 miles in, the trail splits off to head down to the lake. Pack a picnic to eat by the water and make a day of it! Oh, and it is next to the Cedar Ridge Preserve!

This spot is also very popular with mountain bikers.

Penitentiary Hollow Trail

Penitentiary Hollow Trail offers some of the best hiking in Dallas
  • Length: 1.2 miles | Elevation gain: 187 feet | Guide

To dig deeper into the incredible Central Texas landscapes, you’ll have to head a bit further from Downtown.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park, 1.5-hour drive west of the city center, holds some of the most stunning hiking trails near Dallas, including this rugged, secluded spot.

Although it’s a short out-and-back trek, Penitentiary Hollow contains so many fascinating points to explore. Gaze out over the lake, scramble up rocky slopes, and climb into little caves along the trail.

The unique formations are not only nice to look at, you can also try your hand at rock climbing!

Elm Point Trail

Eisenhower State Park is one of the state parks near Dallas
  • Length: 6.5 miles | Elevation gain: 570.9 feet | Guide

With everything from limestone cliffs to sandy beaches to ancient fossils, Eisenhower State Park is an area rich in history and wild landscapes, with easily some of the most picturesque hiking in Dallas.

Elm Point Trail is one of the park’s more popular treks. It encompasses stream crossing, rocky climbs, and stunning lookout points with views of Lake Texoma.

The loop offers an excellent workout, but there are also plenty of opportunities to stop and relax. You can even pack a picnic lunch to enjoy by the water.

Heads up–this trail gets quite muddy when it rains, so keep an eye on the weather before you go.

North Shore Trail

Phil Hardberger Park is one of the best parks in San Antonio
  • Length: 18 miles | Elevation gain: 846.5 feet | Guide

A short 30-minute drive to Flower Mound will take you to Rockledge Park on the shores of gorgeous Lake Grapevine.

Unlike many Dallas trails, this one is far from flat. Its dramatic elevation changes and rugged terrain make it a haven for mountain bikers.

Hikers should keep an eye out for any riders headed their way but can otherwise dig into a tough out-and-back hike that rewards its guests with lake views, fascinating rock formations, and dense forests.

Challenging Dallas Hikes

Canyon Ridge Trail

Canyon Ridge Trail offers some of the challenging hiking in Dallas
  • Length: 5.9 miles | Elevation gain: 590.6 feet | Guide

This beloved trail has been deemed by many as one of the best in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

It boasts some solid ascents and descents that make for a challenging workout.

The trail is well-maintained and well-marked, so even beginners won’t have to worry about getting lost. Just lace up your boots and enjoy the lush forests and local wildlife (guests have reported spotting deer, armadillos, and more).

Reservations are required on weekends and during holidays, so try to hit this spot on weekdays for easier access and fewer crowds.

Oak Cliff Nature Preserve Outer Loop

Oak Cliff Nature Preserve Outer Loop is one of the best hiking trails in Dallas
  • Length: 6.5 miles | Elevation gain: 344.5 feet | Guide

Tons of twists, turns, and side trails await at the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve Outer Loop, just a 15-minute drive from the heart of Downtown.

Hiking, trail running, and mountain biking are all excellent options along this heavily wooded pathway.

Just keep a map on hand, as the miles of trails are not always well-marked, and many guests have reported getting a little turned around.

If you can stay on track, the varied terrain keeps things exciting, and there are plenty of hills to make sure you get your steps in.

Cattail Pond via Escarpment Trail

Cattail Pond via Escarpment Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Dallas
  • Length: 2.5 miles | Elevation gain: 200.1 feet | Guide

Wildlife, sweeping vistas, and gently sloping hills? Say no more! This moderately difficult loop in Cedar Hill State Park (25 minutes from Downtown) puts all kinds of Texas nature on display.

It has a good mix of open landscapes and shady, tree-lined stretches, stopping by Cattail Pond at the halfway point.

Your furry friends are welcome to join you on the hike as long as they’re kept on a leash.

However, with impressive scenery comes impressive crowds. This spot can get quite crowded throughout the year.

Dallas Trails

The area surrounding Dallas has miles of trails and scenic views that you won’t want to miss! From Fort Worth to Oklahoma and beyond, there are miles of hiking trails just waiting to be discovered and explored.

Whether you pick a beautiful trail for a family stroll on the weekend or a bike trail to pump some adrenaline, the Dallas area has it all!

Pack your gear and opt outdoors!

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