Looking for the best long hikes in North Texas? While DFW does have many hiking trails, some of them can be on the shorter side. For those days you want to get out and really get in some miles, there are quite a few options here in North Texas to for an extended hike. Below are a few of the better trails or trail systems, where distance won’t be an option. Whether you want to go for a 9 mile hike, or a 30 mile extended journey, you have more options in the area than you may realize!
While most of the trails below I have been to and have documented on the site, there are a few that I haven’t yet had a chance to visit. I’ll note which ones and provide a link to our review. If I have not yet been to the trail, I’ll provide a link to resources to help you get more information!
Cedar Ridge Preserve near Joe Pool Lake is one of the most visited trail systems in the area, and for good reason! There are over 9 miles of trails to explore here. The way the trails are laid out, you can take as long or short a hike as you are in the mood for, with varying levels of difficulty. The Bluebonnet trail is easy, whereas the Cedar Break Trail will give you several challenging bits as you negotiate up and down some rocky steep areas. This is popular with hikers and trail runners, but no biking is allowed on these trails. This is the gold standard for Dallas trails!
2.) LBJ Grasslands
If it’s distance you want, the LBJ Grasslands just north of the Metroplex has plenty of wide open space to explore. With over 70 miles of trails, this is somewhere you can get lost in. And I mean that, make sure you bring a map and GPS with you, so you don’t get lost in this large area of Prairie and forest. The trails are long and so I’d recommend planning your route ahead of time, and know that you may not always have cell service in some areas of the grasslands. You may not see a single other person out here, or you may see people on horseback as these are popular trails for equestrian riders.
Fort Worth Nature Center is another spot where you can rack up the miles. This spot boasts over 20 miles of trails spread across 3,000 acres near Lake Worth. You can explore the banks of the lake, through an ancient cross timber forest, even cross over to a small island. I’d recommend reviewing the map before you go, as some of the trails (like the Canyon Ridge to Greer Island) trail will require you to backtrack to get back to your vehicle. Also, there are buffalo! This is the only park in the DFW area that you can see a buffalo herd, that I’m aware of at least! There’s a lot to do here!
While not in DFW, it’s not TOO far away for a day trip, and so worth the drive time! This state park boasts over 20 miles of trails to explore, set along the scenic Pauluxy River. You can get a great workout here in the vast park, which also allows mountain biking, with some great views once you get up into the hills above the river. The river is fun to explore, and as the name implies, you can see several dinosaur tracks preserved in the rocks. This is one of the most popular state parks in Texas for a very good reason, mixing water, trails and of course, the dinosaur tracks!
This state park close to Dallas, is the site of the first trail established by DORBA, the Dallas Off Road Biking Association. The main trail here has 3 options: Long, Medium, Short. For those wanting a quick adventure, the 3 mile trail is a perfect bite sized option. For those wanting a longer distance, you can also do an 8 mile hike or an even longer 12 mile hike. These trails take you into the backcountry of the park winding up and down hills and switchbacks. Keep in mind, unlike some of the other systems were the trails will mix and join, once you pick the 8 or 12 mile trail options, you are on them until the end. So pick your adventure carefully!
6.) Caddo Grasslands
The Caddo Grasslands are protected lands, much like the LBJ grasslands, and located in Fannin County in Northeast Texas not far from Paris, TX. I have not been here yet, so the link in the title above, takes you to the official site. There is also a lot more information here, at an equestrian site called “Where the Trails Are”. There are approximately 30 miles of trails here, and it’s very remote and away from everything. Based on the description from “Where the Trails Are”, i can’t wait to get out here and explore.
Another trail system I’ve yet to explore, the Lavon Lake Trinity Trail has over 25 miles of track to explore. Located in Collin County east of Central Expressway, this is another trail used for hikers and backpackers, and horseback riders. This is another place I’m hoping to explore in 2022. Keep in mind, this not a trail system, but a linear out and back trail. Only go out half as far as you are willing to walk in total! Or go with a friend in two cars, and leave one at your endpoint.
Probably the most popular off-road bike trail in the area, the DORBA maintained North Shore Trail on Lake Grapevine offers 22.5 miles of amazing single track adventure. This is a loop trail, with multiple places to park and access it, as it winds along the lake-shore. The section between Murrrel Park and Twin Covers has the most challenging terrain, while the Murell Park to Rockledge Park is less strenuous, and I think offers better lake views at certain vantage points. Some bike trails can be windy to get maximum advantage of the terrain, but that doesn’t always make for the best hiking experience. North Shore does not have this issue. This is one of the best trails in the area, and also one of the most popular. If you are on foot, please make sure to go against the bike traffic, and keep an eye out so you can step out of the way if a fast bike is coming your way.
Another place to visit, is the Big Cedar Wilderness Trail system, a mountain bike trail area maintained by DORBA. Located on land owned by the Mountain Creek Community Church in Cedar Hills, this system encompasses 20 miles of single track trail, including Prayer Mountain, which is apparently the highest elevation in the city of Dallas. The trails are closed on Monday to allow them to rest, and if you plan to visit on a Sunday, please do so after 1 PM to not interfere with the church. I’ve not been here in many years, so I’m due for a revisit. Please follow the rules, as this land is donated, so show respect for the landowners for allowing access to this beautiful area!
NOTE: Do not park at the church, there is an alternative parking area that the link above where you should park. Visitors are asked to sign a release form
Rounding out this list, is a place I recently discovered: The Bob Jones Nature Center in Southlake. I found this place on a recent google search looking for new trails to explore. I was surprised I’d never heard of this place before, as it boasts of 20 miles of trails near and along the shores of Lake Grapevine. The views from the lake are beautiful, and you may run into riders on horseback as these trails are used for equestrian usage as well as hiking on foot. No mountain biking is allowed on these trails. I am shocked this place hasn’t shown up on more of those lists of “Top Trails in DFW” that i encounter online. If you haven’t been to Bob Jones yet, you need to plan a visit as it’s worth the effort.
I hope for those looking for longer hiking options in the area, finds something here that piques their interest!
Are there any other trails in the area worth calling out, for best long distance trails in North Texas? Let me know in the comments if you think there are others worth calling out!