Review: The Katy Trail was is a rails to trails project, transforming an old rail line into a multi-use pathway through many key shopping and entertainment centers in central Dallas. This trail is well used, well maintained, and one of the top spots in Dallas to get outside and get outside.
Distance: 3.5 mile one way trail that uses an old railroad line; future plans include linking to White Rock Trail in the future
Area of Town: Highland Park to Victory Park, north of downtown Dallas
Facilities: According to the official Katy Trail website, there are three areas you can access a restroom. On the north side at Knox / Henderson, you could visit the Highland Park Pharmacy. There is also a nearby Starbucks and other restaurants in the area (always nice to purchase a drink while there). Katy Trail Ice House is on the trail, and they allow trail users to use their restroom. Finally at Reverchorn Park at the southern edge of the trail, there are public facilities.
Suitable for: Walking / Jogging / Biking / Skateboarding / Whatever
Type of Trail: Mix of cement and blacktop depending on where on the trail you are
Shade: This trail has areas of sun and shade, depending on where on the trail you are.
Where to Park: There are multiple places to access the trail throughout it’s length. This is a fairly busy area, so parking can be an issue. You can find parking off Knox, where the trail crosses Knox near the end of the shopping areas, west of 75. The parking lots do fill up on busy days for shoppers, so your luck will vary. There is also parking just south of Knox on the side roads in front of the condos that line the Katy trail, if you can’t find parking in by the retail parking. You can generally find easy access to the trail there. You can also access the trail from Victory Park at the end of the trail, but you would likely need to pay for parking in the area. Alternatively, Reverchon Park is somewhere to park for free at the southern part of Katy Trail, and has easy access to the trail, although they sometimes hold special events which makes parking difficult.
Official Site: Friends of Katy Trail
Aside from the White Rock trail, this is probably the most used paved trail in Dallas, and is considered one of the jewels of the Dallas trail system. This used to be part of the Katy Trail railroad line, but was repurposed into a mult-use trail. It starts north of the Knox-Henderson shopping area, and extends in Victory Park near the American Airlines Center, just north of downtown Dallas. The trail provides access to multiple areas for shopping and dining, including the famous Katy Trail Icehouse. The trail is a straight shot downtown from the Highland Park area, and has multiple overpasses which provide nice views of the city and surrounding areas.
The trail itself is a straight shot from Highland Park down to Victory Park, so don’t expect any curves or bends in the path. There is a slight downhill slant as you move from north to south, so if you bike or rollerblade down the path, expect a slight uphill gradient on your return.
Throughout the trail, you’ll be going over several major roads via the old railroad bridges, which can provide a nice vista watching the traffic go by. While much of the trail is surrounded by vegetation, there are often very nice views of downtown Dallas that you can spot. Also as you go through Turtle Creek and Reverchon Park, you can often look down and see those parks, Turtle Creek being especially beautiful. Beyond the views from above, their are also quite a few areas with structures that have been built, see below, that provide interesting views on the trail. These little areas provide a place to rest, enjoy the sights, and provide a nice visual break as you move down the path.
While it is a straight path, there are several places where you can hop off or on the trail. Several businesses and apartments / condos back into the trail, which makes it a convenient way for locals to get around on foot.
One notable spot on the trail is the Katy Trail Ice House, which is a popular destination for food, drinks, or to watch a game. Their patio is great, and they have a good selection of food and drink.
This is one of the most used paved trails in the area, so I’d definitely recommend it more for foot traffic than bike traffic. When I have tried to ride my bike on it, I’ve had to swerve quite a bit more, especially on more crowded days. You’ll see people getting around all kinds of ways. Some on foot, some on bikes. I’ve seen rollerbladers, skateboarders, even one guy using a skateboard and a stick to ‘punt’ down the trail. Given it’s proximity to the center of the city, plus the amount of young people in these areas, it’s definitely well used, as well as maintained.
There are plans to link this trail in the future, so it will cross Central Expressway, and then connect to the White Rock trail system. This is part of the Dallas master plan, and I’m not aware of when or how likely this would happen. There are quite a few secondary trails being linked together on the east side of the expressway, so this is looking more and more likely in the near future, as Dallas finally begins to link together these trails, vs the current status quo of trails scattered and isolated across the metroplex.
Where to Grab a Beer: The obvious choice here is the Katy Trail Ice House. It’s right on the trail, you can step direct from trail into the patio area. Here you can pick from nachos, burgers, and all kinds of food to enjoy with a host of beers available. If you want to go down to the very end of the trail, Victory Park offers quite a few options, and of course the Knox Henderson area to the north is full of places for food and drink (Chueys is always popular). Yelp is your friend here, there are too many to point out (and they change), but first choice would be Katy Trail Ice House without a doubt.