I grew up here in Dallas, Texas, but I didn't explore trails outside of Garland until I was in my 20's. Although the trails I grew up walking in Garland will always be my favorite due to nostalgia, I found some other really amazing nature preserves around.
I didn't give this list a number because honestly, I feel I need to give numerals a break. I'm sure they're tired working overtime all over the internet for every crappy website like this one. Let's dive in.
Rowlett Creek Preserve in Garland, TX
Let's begin by knocking out my obvious favorite. I grew up in the trails flowing through the Rowlett Creek. I've built forts, played paintball, dug holes for no reason like Bart Simpson, went on early morning walking/photography adventures, swam in the gross water, and so much more.
I can't even begin to count the amount of hours I spent playing those woods growing up. I walked them recently and gathered small items from places I had the grandest memories of and turned it into an art project that is now framed on my wall. If you're looking for a long trail system and forest to explore in the area, the Rowlett Creek Preserve is for you!
Cedar Ridge Preserve in Dallas, TX
I've only been to this trail system once, but I really liked it. It's incredibly "hill-y" for a Dallas trail and in the spring, there are a ton of Oak Leafrollers. If you don't know, these are small worms that hang from Oak trees and if they're present, you will without a doubt run into a handful while walking the trail, but don't worry, they're harmless.
We even filmed this music video there while using a song from Tanner Peterson. Don't worry, we made sure not to ACTUALLY break any trees down and the bee nest I kicked was empty. (I'm terrified of bees.) Also, the last part of that video was actually filmed in the next trail system...
Spring Creek Nature Area in Richardson, TX
I've had a lot of good and awkward times here. I've filmed videos here, I've skated here since half of the trails are cement, and even been metal detecting by myself looking like a creep digging in the woods.
If you venture the right way, you can find an old, small graveyard. The small cemetery is home to the Routh family from the Civil War era. It's hidden gem that makes the trail system more interesting.
Oak Point in Plano, TX
Oak Point used to be a really great trail system until it became family-afied. The city of Plano had the bright idea of ruining the forest with zip lines and tree house structures. Like The Dude, where once a great forest would abide with trails and endless exploration, now sits trail systems clogged with lines to the zipline and shitty kids complaining about being "too hot".
(Photography by Cole Hanna)
If you ignore the theme park-like additions to the forest, it's still a really fun trail to walk and climb trees in. I'm still upset about the additions which is why if you're in Plano, I'd recommend the next place as an option.
Arbor Hills in Plano, TX
Arbor Hills is one of my favorite places to hike. It has everything. A great look out spot, snakes, long trails, more snakes, cool little water falls, and a wasp nest near the apartments entrance. (Saw it there 3 years ago. Could still be there.)
Honestly, these trails have all kinds of places to explore. Just look:
(Photography by Cole Hanna)
Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas, TX
While driving to this place I saw a pregnant dog that looked like it had just fought its way through King's Landing, but don't let the area around this place put you off. It's a great trail system once you get onto the property.
There's the actual Audubon center which is like a miniature science museum. There's a bunch of boxes filled with bees which is terrifying, but if you don't mess with them they might let you live. The trails are short, but interesting and the vantage points have beautiful scenery.
My next area to explore is going to be...your mom. (Oh SNAP! *LATE 90'S JOKE ALERT*) Wait, I meant Oak Cliff Nature Preserve. If you have any trails you suggest that I check out in the Dallas area, please let me know!