Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center
Review: Located in beautiful Cedar Hill, near Joe Pool Lake, you will find the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center. What this site lacks in long trails, it more than makes up for in beauty. The forests here are lush and the vistas from the top of the hill give you some amazing views of the lake and Cowboy Stadium. The Canyon Floor trail is even wheelchair accessible. With so many other trails in the area, you can make a day of the area. While here don’t forget to check out Cedar Mountain Preserve, which has an additional trail to enjoy (currently closed through fall of 2019).
Distance: Dogwood Canyon has about 3.2 miles of trails (round trip), with the addition of the Dogwood Trail.
Area of Town: Cedar Hill, south of Dallas near Joe Pool Lake
Facilities: Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center has a gift shop, restrooms, and meeting rooms. The grounds also contain picnic areas, and places to sit and rest.
Suitable for: Hiking
Type of Trail: Natural Trails
Shade: Dogwood Canyon sits in a beautiful wooded area, so plenty of shade. As you go from Dogwood to Cedar Mountain Preserve, you will get some sun.
Where to Park: The Audobohn center has plenty of parking, including dedicated parking for hybrid vehicles up front
Official Website: Dogwood Canyon Official Site
Nearby Trails: Cedar Hill State Park, Cedar Ridge Preserve, Cedar Mountain Preserve, Big Cedar
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center is a more recent trail system for the metroplex, built in 2011 after the land was donated by David and Kim Hurt (story here). This site is managed by the Audobohn Society, and is composed of more then 200 acres of pristine forest to enjoy. Located in Cedar Hill near Joe Pool Lake, it’s another beautiful trail system in one of the few hilly areas of the Metro area.
Originally, the center had two trails (West Loop and Canyon Trail), but recently have added a third loop (Dogwood Trail), which is not yet pictured on the official trail map, see second image for a GPS map created from my hike.
The Canyon Trail is the shorter of the two clocking in at about half a mile round trip. It’s a wide trail most of the way, and is wheelchair accessible (not common here in DFW). It’s peaceful, with many opportunities for bird watching, including a bird blind. This is not a strenuous trail, but it is a pretty walk in the woods, with ample opportunities to see some wildlife. This is a perfect trail for those who can’t handle elevation changes, as the other two trails do have quite a bit of elevation changes to navigate.
West Loop Trail
The West Loop is the more strenous of the two, clocking in at 1.65 miles round trip. This is by far the more interesting of the two trails, as you will climb a hill via a series of switchbacks. There is a nice bit of elevation change here, to get your heart rate up. Once you reach the top of the trail, a loop takes you around the top, with multiple places to take in views of the surrounding hills, Joe Pool Lake, and even Cowboy Stadium in the distance. You’ll also find an old tin building, that the trail winds around. At marker 5, you’ll find the intersection for the Dogwood Trail, which I highly recommend you explore as well.
The newest of the trails at Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, the Dogwood trail is a 1.1 round trip loop through the canyon floor, and the future site of a viewing are to see the flowering dogwoods. The Dogwood trail begins at marker 5 of the West Loop, near benches at an overlook.
You will follow this along an escarpment, which then will lead down into the canyon where you can choose to go left or right. The trail intersects with the creek seen from the Canyon Trail, and several bridges will take you over the creekbed. This really is a beautiful section of the grounds, with tall trees and elevation changes. You will come to a spur that leads you to the site of a future overlook, to view the flowering dogwoods that the center is named for. Heed the sign warnings, and don’t go beyond the barrier, to prevent damage to the trees and their environment.
Once you are finished with the hikes at Dogwood Canyon, don’t forget to check out the Cedar Mountain Preserve, located just next door.
I’ve always loved visiting the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, but the shorter mileage originally available in the preserve generally meant it was a place that I’d visit, then plan to go somewhere else as well. With the addition of the Dogwood Trail, the trail mileage has substantially increased, especially when combined with the Cedar Mountain Preserve next door, making it worth visiting just on its own! Dogwood Canyon and Cedar Mountain Creek Preserve are worth your time to visit. This park truly is a beautiful place to explore, in one of the most beautiful parts of the metroplex!