Review: Tucked away in the back of McInnish Park sports complex, is a small 40 acre pristine and beautiful forest to explore, the Elm Fork Preserve! It’s short distance and wide trails make it perfect for small kids, or anyone looking for a short but picturesque walk through the woods. This is a well maintained trail, well marked with signs and information about the kinds of trees that grow within, and features views of a small nearby pond.
Distance: 1 mile of trails
Area of Town: Carrollton near 35 and Sandy Park Lane
Facilities: There is an interpretive center in the park, I’m not sure if there are restrooms available. There are restrooms in theMcInnish Park sports complex, where the preserve sits.
Suitable for: Hiking
Type of Trail: Natural Trails
Shade: This trail is completely under the tree canopy, so expect total shade, with some peaks of sun through the trees.
Where to Park: There is a small paved parking lot just outside the entrance of the park
Official Website: Official Site
The Elm Fork Preserve is likely not something you’ll ever stumble upon, on your own. I had never heard of it, until I was browsing a Dallas County site looking for new places to explore. I’d never heard of the Dallas Open Space Program, but it was a program established by the county in 1976 to ensure preservation of natural spaces, to prevent everything from being built out due to rapid development. These spaces contain some familiar names (Cedar Ridge Preserve, Cedar Mountain Preserve, Spring Creek Forest Preserve), but also placed I hadn’t heard of, like the Elm Fork Preserve. Interestingly enough, Elm Fork Preserve was the first of the open spaces that the county acquired for preservation! The 40 acre preserve was originally bought by the Brambitt family in 1861 as a woodright. They never cleared the land fortunately, and in 1986, the 40 acres were given to the city of Carrollton to preserve, in it’s natural state.
Like i said above, i would never have known this place existed without finding it on the Dallas County site, as the preserve is tucked far inside a sports field complex off Sandy Lake Lane. Once i got there, it was obvious where to park, as it’s well marked with signage and signs briefing visitors on the history of the preserve, and what you will find within.
The trail is relatively simple, it’s a broad oval with a cross trail bisecting it in the middle. I walked it in a figure 8 to see it all, and made sure to take the side trail at the apex for maximum distance. That said, this is not a trail to visit if you are looking to get in a big workout. While I was here though, i was struck by how green and verdant the trees and flora were, not shocking given all the rain and humidity that we’ve had in 2021! Once you hit the pond there are signs with additional information about the ecosystem represented, than you just make you way back to the parking lot.
This trail is very simple, yet pretty. If you are in the area, it’s worth stopping in to check out, or you could easily pair it with the Coppell Nature Area which is about 20 minutes to the west, or LLELA which is 20 minutes to the north,. Elm Fork Preserve is beautifully maintained, and I’m glad i made the visit to check it out!