Review: If you explore the Trinity Skyline Trail or Levee Trails, prepare for an entirely different view of Downtown Dallas or the Trinity River than you are used to. I drive past the Trinity bottomlands many times in the past, but the views and experience of being down in it affords some beautiful views of the surrounding areas. When you get beyond the Trinity Skyline trail along the gravel levee trails, you’ll often find yourself completely alone with nature. You can explore the Trinity Levee trails in either direction, including passing beneath I-35 as you near the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. After you are done exploring, you can finish up at nearby Trinity Groves, to grab a bite to eat after working up an appetite!
Distance: The Trinity Skyline Trail is officialy 4,6 miles. The Trinity Levee trails distance is a bit more nebulous. I’ve seen references that they are a combined 40 miles, and this post on All Trails indicates 13.9 miles.
Area of Town: Along the Trinity River, just outside of Downtown Dallas
Facilities: There may be portable toilets at the trailhead by the Contintnetal Bridge, otherwise bathrooms can be found at Trinity Groves nearby
Suitable for: Hiking, Walking, Biking
Type of Trail: Both paved and gravel
Shade: Don’t look for any shade here aside from going underneath the overpasses and bridges
Where to Park: There is parking near Trinity Groves at the Continental Bridge area, or at Trammell Crow Park
Official Website: Official website
If you’ve lived in the DFW area long enough, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Trinity River Park project. Originally sold as a beautiful park with sailboats going down the river, that’s not exactly gone to plan. The project has been talked about for years, but with little to show for it. Originally designed as a natural oasis to rival Central Park in New York, the project was delayed and bedeviled with plans to put in a highway through the park, a white water feature that was too dangerous to actually use, and concerns about the river’s periodic flooding (notably in 2015). However, Dallas has delivered the designer bridges, and along with them the Trinity Skyline Trail, to explore the river bottoms. At present there are about 4.6 miles of paved trail along the river between the Continental bridge and Trammell Crow Park, and an additional 40+ miles of gravel trails along the Levees. Quite a lot to explore!
Trinity Skyline Trail
The easiest ways to access the Skyline Trail are either parking by the Continental Bridge access point (just off Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, near Trinity Groves), or at the Trammel Crow Park area. If you park at Continental Bridge, you will then ride down a paved path from the top of the levee, down into the river bottom. From here you can go right which will eventually dead end into gravel section (the perimeter road), or go left, where the trail will take you (one way), through the river bed up to Trammel Crow Park, allowing you to cross the river, and then come back to the southeast, eventually dead-ending at the Commerce Bridge. This is a oneway trail, so you’ll either need to back-track, or come back up the levee to Commerce Street and cross over, to then come down the levees once again, to take the Skyline trail back to your starting point.
The views here are amazing! It’s not the most thrilling ride, given it’s very flat, but come for the views of downtown and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. You’ll also pass by an old railroad bridge, giving a lot of opportunities to see downtown from a very different vantage point. The first time i visited the trail, shortly after it opened, there were not many people using it. When i came back, after the expansion at Trinity Groves and nearby apartments going up, I saw alot more people using the trails. As you pass through the Trammel Crow Park, keep an eye out for the cow statues, and if you are lucky you can stop and watch people playing Cricket.
The Trinity Skyline Trail is paved, but will dead end in spots where the concrete trail stops and gravel roads begin. That would be the Perimiter Road trails, and for road bikers, that’s the end of the road for you!
Trinity Levee Trails / Perimeter Road
Aside from the paved Skyline Trail, you’ll also encounter several gravel sections either along the tops of the levees, or inside the levees (called Perimeter Roads). There are conflicting reports on their total mileage, i’ve seen some reports of them being 40 miles in total, others far less. You can see them on Google Maps if you look at the area, and the gravel trails are dashed lines, vs the solid lines for the Skyline Trail.
The Levee Trails extend across the tops of the levees, and the perimeter roads are inside the levees themselves, and greatly expand the reach of your riding adventures by the river. I’ve heard you can ride from Bachman Lake (by Love Field) and hit the levees by Stroker’s Ice House, and ride all the way downtown. I’ve never done that, so not sure of access points or how safe that area will be. When I visited, I did ride quite a bit on the southern side of the river, and could have gone all the way to the Santa Fe Trestle Trail, but turned back. This is not an area for road bikes, you’ll need a mountain bike or gravel bike to traverse these rocky and bumpy trails. I also was very alone the further I got from the Skyline Trail, and aside from one lady who was talking to herself and had a few loose dogs, i didn’t see anyone else down there. It was quiet and remote, I didn’t feel unsafe, but I did feel isolated. I would just advise caution and be aware of your surroundings if you explore this area on your own.
Definitley one of the more unique trails in the DFW area, you should consider visiting just for the unique views. Biking or walking underneath the bridges and seeing downtown from a different vantage point is certainly worth experiencing at least once. If you are looking for major miles, there is potential here along the gravel roads to extend well beyond the more limited paved Skyline Trail. Just make sure to bring enough water and be prepared for very little shade or cover from the sun. I’d also exercise caution, especially as you get further from the more heavily used sections of the trail, as you will be relatively isolated and alone. As always, keep an eye on your surroundings and enjoy!