Review: The LLELA Nature Preserve (LLELA = Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area) is a linear nature preserve just south of Lewisville Lake. There is a fee to enter, and call ahead to make sure they are open (after heavy rains or they are releasing water from the dam, it can get rather marshy). Here you will find miles of hiking trails, several spots to get out in a canoe or kayak, and can watch the water being released from the dam. It’s a very linear park, so plan ahead on where to park and how far to go. My recommendation, have two vehicles or at least park more centrally and move your vehicle as you work your way down the trails.
Distance: The nature preserve has 7 miles of trails, but since they are linear (i.e. don’t loop), your total mileage will be higher if you backtrack to your vehicle.
Area of Town: Just off I-35E in Lewisville, south of the lake
Facilities: They do offer primitive camping sites, and areas to picnic. There are restrooms throughout the park, and a Visitors Center as you enter
Suitable for: Hiking, Canoeing, Kayaking, Camping
Type of Trail: Natural trails
Shade: These trails are mainly in the woods, but there are trails with prairie so you will get some sun here.
Where to Park: There are multiple trail-heads you can park at. I parked at the Blackjack trail, then when i exited near the Green Dragon trail, i doubled back on the road to get my car, and drove further down, and had to repeat that a few times. Honestly, i wish I’d come with a friend and had two vehicles, since doubling back got old.
Official Website: Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area
Nearby Trails: Lake Ray Roberts (Isle Du Bois and Johnson Branch)
For years I’d been meaning to come check LLELA out, but due to the heavy rain we’ve had the last few years, i just never could time it right when I was free and the trails weren’t wet. I finally made it out, although it was still quite a bit marshy in places.
The nature preserve lies just south of Lake Lewisville along the dam. And i mean, JUST south of the dam. Below is a picture of that dam, I’ve even circled a person who was climbing to the top (signs say not to), the second picture is a view from the top (obtained somehow). It is steep (So i hear!), if you do climb it make sure to be careful.
You do have to pay at the entrance gate, so make sure you have a means to pay. Once you enter the park, there will be a visitors center, and a parking lot to start on the BlackJack trail. I parked there and hiked the blackjack trail around to the where it came out on the next parking area, and then had to double back along the road to get my vehicle again. That got old, so if I go back, I’d go with a friend where we can coordinate with our vehicles and reduce the back and forth!
The trails here have a wide variety of things to see. From trails predominately in wooded areas (Blackjack, Cicada, Bittern Marsh), to those that have prairies (Redbud, Cottonwood, and parts of Blackjack), to pond or wetland views (Cottonwood or Bittern Marsh). It is a really beautiful area, and i enjoyed my time there. When I went it was a bit marshy, the dam was releasing a lot of water, so many of trails were I’ve not been back since my initial visit, primarily due to the linear nature of the park.
This is also a great place to get out on the water, if you want to canoe or kayak, for both moving water (Elm Fork of Trinity) or still water (Beaver Pond). If you do put in here for the river, please read the website’s instructions carefully, as they advise you to use the LLELA location as a putting in point only, you’ll need another vehicle down river to exit at, vs try to paddle back upstream. If still water is more your thing, the Beaver Pond is also available (weather and water permitting) for your kayaking / canoeing adventures. Please review the website though for full details (link is above).
Below are pictures from my time at LLELA. I’d recommend going if you never have before! The dam was especially impressive to me, as was the water roaring out of the dam into the river. Just consider where you park, or go in multiple vehicles, if you want to cover the entire preserve in one day.