Parks & Recreational Areas
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. Suburban Plano manages this 200-acre park. Behind the large shaded playground and picnic pavilions are entrances to trails for hiking and biking. The paved hiking trail is 4.4 mi, but visitors are free to roam unpaved trails as well. The off-road biking trail is 2 mi. Explorers are rewarded with beautiful views of undeveloped land—a rarity in these parts. 6701 W. Parker Rd., Plano, TX. 972/941–7250. Free. Daily 5am–11pm.
Cedar Ridge Preserve. Sandwiched between residential neighborhoods is the hidden Cedar Ridge Preserve, 633 acres of undeveloped land managed by Audubon Dallas. Head here for solitude and some challenging trails—10 mi in all. There are a few picnic tables at the park's entrance. Once inside the preserve, you'll find signs and markers for specific trails. If you have 90 minutes or so, try the 1.25-mi hike to Cattail Pond. From the pond, you can admire the great expanse around you, and you can look up to see how far down you've traveled—and how far you'll need to climb to get back. At the pond you'll hear the nearby highway traffic, the only obvious clue that you're still in the DFW area. No bicycles allowed. Take plenty of water; there are no concessions on site. 7171 Mountain Creek Pkwy., Dallas, TX. 972/709–7784. www.audubondallas.org. Tues.–Sun. sunrise–sunset.
Katy Trail. The scenic 3.5-mi Katy Trail follows the former route of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. The tracks were abandoned in the 1980s, and today the area is urban parkland. The trail provides a scenic oasis from nearby development, and there's a sense of community among the active neighbors who bike and walk on the paths. There are a few benches along the trail in case you need to rest; parking is free at the American Airlines Center when events are not taking place Trail endpoints: American Airlines Center (2500 Victory Ave.) to the south; Knox St. and Abbott Ave., west of Central Expressway, to the north., Dallas, TX. 214/303–1180. www.katytraildallas.org.
White Rock Lake Park. Before Dallas was so big (read: before central air-conditioning), families would flock to White Rock to fish, swim, go boating, and picnic. Swimming's not allowed anymore, but folks still head to the lake to walk, run, bike, fish, go birding, and go boating (small motors are allowed). A 9.3-mi trail loops the lake, offering beautiful views of the water, stately homes, and Downtown Dallas to the southwest. The annual Run the Rock marathon in December circles the lake. 8300 E. Lawther Dr., East Dallas, Dallas, TX. www.whiterocklake.org.On the shore of the lake is the Bath House Cultural Center. The restored 1930 building serves as a community center and hosts art exhibits and theater, music, and dance productions, and houses a small lake museum. 521 E. Lawther Dr. 214/670–8749. A nearby bicycle shop, Bike Mart, rents bikes and helmets for $21.75 a day. 9040 Garland Rd. 214/321–0705.