Review: White Rock Lake is without a doubt the most popular trail in the Dallas side of the metroplex. No matter when you come out here, you will find people biking, running, walking or blading around the lake. Sail boats and kayaks dot the water, and it’s one of the most picturesque areas of the city to enjoy. The lake trail also connects to the White Rock Creek trail, as well as the Santa Fe trail which takes you down to the Deep Ellum / Downtown area. This is a fantastic place to spend the day, or just a few hours getting outside, whether on foot, on bike, or on the water!
Distance: About 9.5 miles around, although it depends on which routes you take (there is a section at the north end that extends your ride a bit)
Area of Town: East of Central Expressway, towards Lakewood and Lake Highlands
Facilities: There are several bathrooms and picnic tables spread across the area. You are also near a 7-11 by the spillway.
Suitable for: Biking, running, walking, kayaking, sailing
Type of Trail: Paved
Shade: Some parts are shaded, especially on the east side where there are more trees, but overall not a lot of shade
Where to Park: There are multiplace parking lots around the lake, alhough depending on when you arrive, it may be hard to find one. Note, the road around the trail is used by bikers, so drive with caution. You can also park on the side of the road, on the NE side of the trail, especially as the road veers away from the lake.
Official Site: White Rock Lake Official Site
Nearby Trails: White Rock Creek
White Rock Lake is the most well known trail in the Dallas area, and along with the Katy Trail, gets the most usage. Not only is it scenic, but you can also rack up alot of miles either by circling the lake multiple times, or extending your ride by adding in the Santa Fe trail to the south, or the White Rock Creek trail to the north.
The lake is east of 75 roughly between Mockingbird and Garland Road. The arboretum lies on one side, and Doctor’s Hospital is also nearby. See below for the official map. If you are parking at the lake, there are multiple parking areas available, but depending on the day and time, you may have a hard time finding parking. You can always swing up the norwest side (close to Buckner and Northwest Highway), near the bridge that goes over the lake, as there is often road side parking available on that side.
The lake trail is mainly flat, without a ton of elevation changes. The one area that really has a descent would be coming down off the dam, near the Pump House. if you are going around the lake counter clockwise, when you hit the soutwest side, the trail does diverge. One path going right through a wooded area that borders the trail, or left up an incline near the pump house that gives you a nice view of the lake, and then a fun descent near the spillway!
This is a very heavily used trail, where you’ll encounter people jogging, walking, and biking. You’ll definitely encounter some traffic jams on a busy day due to slower traffic, so pay attention, especially when passing a slow walker since someone could be passing from behind you as well.
The lake affords many nice views. On the Northeastern side you’ll find a dog park, and beautiful homes dot the eastern banks, including a replica of Mount Vernon. At the Southeast side you’ll find the Pump House, as well as an option to climb up to the dam wall. If you choose the other path, you’ll intersect with the Santa Fe trail, which leads to The Lot and Local Traveller (for a drink or some grub), and eventually down to Deep Ellum. Around the south side of the lake you’ll find the spillway, as well as a 7-11 if you need to grab something. Along the western edge you’ll find the Arboretum as well as the marina, and then as you head up you’ll encounter the creek. Many people rent kayaks at the lake, and explore the northern section where it’s quite a bit wilder.
The trail around the lake is appeoximately 9.5 miles, although you can extend that by not taking the bridge at the northern side of the lake, and instead taking the road further up and around. You’ll wind up catching the lake trail again, but you’ll bypass the dog park. Of course the White Rock Lake trail connects with the White Rock Creek trail, so for those wanting mileage an out and back on the creek trail, combined with the 9.5 miles at the lake trail, gets you nearly 30 miles of distance. You can also take the Santa Fe trail downtown, which is another 4.5 miles one way. Other trails are connecting to the lake, which will enable access to Mockingbird Station and Glencoe Park, which would give you easy access to the Katy Trail as well.
This is not just a lake you can circle via the trail, it’s also an excellent place to get out on the water. You can bring your own kayak or canoe, or rent a kayak at the White Rock Paddling Company, depending on the season. Click here for more info on hours of operation and rates!
Where to go for a Beer: There aren’t any locations directly on the lake for something to eat or drink, but if you head down the Santa Fe trail (southwestern side of the trail) you will pass by The Lot and Local Traveller. Local Traveller in particular has a great patio and a Tiki Bar! If you are in the mood for something else, Greenville Avenue is very close by where you can find a ton of places to go, like Ozona which has a great patio.