Frasier Dam Recreation Area
Review: Frasier Dam Recreation Area is a new nature preserve along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. This preserve can be enjoyed by people of all skill levels, and allows for easy hiking, mountain biking and canoeing / kayaking.
Distance: Approximately 3 miles. I did 3.2 miles total when I visited.
Area of Town: Northwest Dallas
Facilities: There are port-a-potties located near the parking area. There are benches and picnic tables in the preserve as well at multiple locations
Suitable for: Hiking, Biking
Type of Trail: Natural Trail through the woods
Shade: Predominately shade, unless you go out on the water
Where to Park: Getting to the parking lot is tricky. Use Google Maps or Apple Maps to find the right turnoff from Harry Hines Blvd. Make sure to IMMEDIATELY turn right after you pass under 35, where the service road veers left to enter 35. If you miss the turn, you’ll have to enter 35, exit at regal row, and make your way back around. Again, highly recommend you use Google Maps or Apple Maps to find the parking spot.
Official Website: Official Website (there really isn’t one, but this is Greenspace’s site for more information about the great work they do)
Nearby Trails: Bachman Lake, LB Houston Trail
Frasier Dam Recreation Area is another success story in the area, where an illegal dumping area was reclaimed and turned into something beautiful! Greenspace Dallas developed this 115 acre spot along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, creating a new centrally located natural space to hike, mountain bike, kayak / canoe, fish, birdwatch, etc. There’s so much to do here, in this blink and you miss it location!
As noted above in the parking instructions, it’s accessed via the entrance to to I-35, and if you miss the turn-off, you’ve got a decent distance to backtrack and try again. Use Apple Maps or Google Maps to find it, but also study the map ahead of time so you know exactly where to go. I speak from experience, the first time I tried to find it, I wound up on the highway! Once you find it, you’ll find several spaces to park (it can be busy on clean-up days). The trail, which looks like an old road for the first section, follows along the banks of the dammed river affording picturesque views of water, plants and many birds. This is likely a fantastic spot to bird-watch, I saw quite a few on my hike alongside the river. If you are planning to get out on the water, you can put in here, if you’ve brought a canoe or kayak. I did not bring mine on the day I was there, I’ll have to come back to explore the waterway. Due to the dam further downstream, the water was placid and calm.
There are a few spots to get closer to the river’s edge from the trail. As the trail continues you will eventually find a picnic table, and a kiosk with a map of the area along the intersection of the South and North Trails. I took the South Trail which took me away from the river and into the woods. While I was never in doubt that Interstate 35 was nearby, it was peaceful in these woods and I didn’t encounter anyone. The trail was wide and in great condition. As the trail takes you further into the preserve, it borders Bachman Branch, and you can easily jump down to the creek to explore at certain parts of the trail. The trail will eventually veer back to the North, into a small meadow with benches for resting or viewing the river. The river here when I visited was low, past Frasier Dam.
From here, I followed the trail along the ridge, which lay along the Trinity River and headed towards the dam. The dam was impressive, and on the day I visited, volunteers were cleaning the trash that had collected in the area. I did notice a few trails that seemed to off-shoot the main trail, I kept heading down the ‘main’ trail until I hit a dead-end with a fallen tree, and when I backtracked, realized that the ‘off-shoot’ was where I was supposed to turn. Don’t worry, you won’t get lost here. At this point I was now on the ‘North Trail’, which took me to the Picnic Area. The Picnic Area was a really pretty spot with picnic tables (naturally), and water views to enjoy. Stop here a bit to take in the views. Once you get back on the trail, you will eventually find yourself back at the original junction with the South Trail and the main trail that leads to the parking area.
Not knowing what to expect when I visited Frasier Dam Recreation Area, I was really impressed with the work done to reclaim this area. The trails are not difficult or long, but if you want distance you can easily loop around the North and South trails a few times to pack on miles for a trail run. If you have kids or want an easy place to mountain bike, these trails are perfect for circling around on a bike on a level well maintained natural surface. I ran into some dads with kids biking the area, and they were having a great time. There is a lot to enjoy here, it’s worth checking out! And of course if you want to get out on the water, you can do that here too! Just make sure to use a navigation app to get here!
Note: Given it’s proximity to the river, I wouldn’t advise visiting after a recent rain.
This beautiful place is made possible by the volunteers that Greenspace Dallas assembles to keep it in such pristine state. Click here to be notified of future clean-up activities, and get involved.