Review: The Texas Buckeye Trails are a mix of paved trail and natural trail, that currently are a work in progress. Texas Master Naturalists are busy crafting this new trail in South Dallas along the Trinity River, providing access to a grove of buckeye trees. It’s also right next to Bonton Farms, which you should check out while you are in the area! NOTE: Take care when visiting, the trails are not yet finished, and we did encounter a pack of wild boar in the woods. Also please be careful around the river, as the banks are not safe on the north side of the Trinity River!
Distance: Once the system is complete, maybe 3 miles? Our trip, which included off trail hiking as well was about 3.6 miles round trip.
Area of Town: Southeast of downtown, along the banks of the Trinity River
Facilities: There is a pavilion with a table at the trail-head, and Bonton Farms is right there as well to grab a meal or pick up some supplies
Suitable for: Hiking, Bird Watching
Type of Trail: Natural trail and Paved Trail
Shade: Once you cross the levee and enter the woods, you will be completely shaded. Bring bug spray!
Where to Park: There is a parking lot here, at the end of Bexar Street, shared with Bonton Farms
Official Website: Official Site
Recently I met up with Amy Martin, Texas Master Naturalist and author of the forthcoming book Wild DFW, and we went down to explore the Texas Buckeye Trail. Previously we’ve explored Cottonwood Creek Preserve and Trinity Trails at Lake Lavon. It’s always an adventure with Amy. I’d been wanting to check out this trail, but didn’t know anything about it. It also gave a chance to check out Bonton Farms market for a post-hike lunch.
Texas Buckeye Trails
We parked at the end of Bexar street in Southeast Dallas, near Lamar and I-45. Just past Bonton Farms you’ll see a pavilion, next to a path that goes up and over a levee. Check out the kiosk for the map. Please note, this trail is not complete, so while it shows trails such as the White Rock Trail or the Old Burr Oak Trail, the Bois D’arc Trail, at present they are merely flagged and difficult to follow.
Once you pass over the levee, the trail will meet up with a paved trail which enters the woods. This paved trail was built by the city, and used to lead you through the woods to an overlook of the Trinity River. Due to issues with the banks of the river falling in, the overlook is no longer safe and be careful. Here is more about the collapsing path from a Dallas Observer article, and this blog post has a great photo of the end of the paved path!
Rather than go down the path, when we got to the ‘friendship circle’, the first rounded section of the trail we encountered, we went into the woods via the dirt trail, taking the Bonton segment (see map above). That trail was marked with trail markers, taking us deep into the silence of the woods.
We followed the trail to the Buckeye Grove, where Texas Master Naturalists and other volunteers are working to protect an area of Buckeye trees, by removing invasive species (like privet) which are choking the slow growing trees, to ensure their survival. Take a moment to look around, you’ll see trees with orange ribbons, those indicate the Buckeyes!
Once we walked through this section of the trail, there is a section of trail that goes towards the Trinity River. You’ll notice caution tape around this section, DO NOT PASS IT. The banks of the river are crumbling, and you don’t want to slip down the sides of the bank towards the river. Amy told me about two guys who did just that near Goat Island, and had to be rescued by helicopter as people on the banks couldn’t help them with rope. Also, our cell coverage was spotty in this area, please be careful!
As I mentioned above, the trails are not yet complete, so after the groves, the official trail ends. Amy and I followed the red flags though, which do indicate where the future trail will go. It was slow going, and while some of the red flags are at eye level in the trees, quite a few of them are in the tall grass, making it very difficult to navigate.
We had tracking software activated (Map My Fitness), which gave us breadcrumbs to find our way back. If you proceed further, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you do the same. This is also where we saw evidence of wild pigs, and encountered a large group of them. They ran away from us, and we continued to clap our hands loudly and talked very loud, to make sure they didn’t come back our way.
Again, these trails are not yet marked, and we didn’t encounter anyone out there. It felt very remote, the lack of cell service is something to keep in mind, and nobody will know where you are if you run into trouble. Use common sense, and I’d advise not exploring on your own.
There are some amazing trees back here, and the forest was peaceful and beautiful. It’s not often you can find a place that feels remote in Dallas, and being out here in this beautiful forest does give you that feeling! However, looking for the next red flag proved difficult, so while we did reach the Boi d’arc Fence Posts (see map above), we didn’t get too much further past those before giving up.
These trails are a work in progress, but once complete will provide a beautiful new trail system in an underserved area, in a gorgeous natural landscape!
Once we got back, we were hungry from our hike, so we stopped in at Bonton Farms for some lunch! I’d long read about Bonton Farms, just hadn’t yet had a chance to stop in. Honestly, I’m not sure what made the trip more worthwhile, the hike or the food!
Bonton Farms was established as an urban farm to provide jobs and fresh food for this neglected area of Dallas. Residents in the area didn’t have access to grocery stores or jobs, so Bonton Farms has provided a vital resource to support the community. Please read more here and here about the history of the farm, I won’t do it justice.
The farm has expanded to a marketplace which sells honey and other locally produced products, a coffee shop, and a restaurant. The food at the restaurant was amazing, you won’t be disappointed! There were a lot of great things to pick from, from a fried green tomato sandwich, to fried catfish, and I got this breakfast bowl pictured below with hash browns, eggs, and pork belly!