This is the final post in Keeping the Flame’s “Farewell Denton” Series. This week will feature one post per day up until moving day, and will include reflections on my undergraduate experience, posts about Denton in general, and posts about graduation!
This is, by far, my most requested blog post to date.
I constantly have people asking me where I go hiking “around here,” considering how flat North Texas happens to be. I don’t exactly have time to drive to Colorado every time I want to take a forest bath, so I have to make do with trails I find in the Denton area.
Safe to say, I have found some of the best!
I am pleased to forward this knowledge onto you, in the hopes that you will also find enjoyment in the great outdoors. I’ve spent some of my happiest hours out on these trails, and I hope you will as well.
- Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
Spoiler: there actually isn’t a center. So don’t look for it!
I have thoroughly enjoyed hiking these trails with Leben all semester, and I love that they are most often empty. I prefer to walk with Leben off leash, and this is perfect for us.
I also like to pretend that I’m as far away from civilization as possible when I’m out on a hike, and passing strollers with blaring iPads really ruins the vibe.
If you’re looking for a nice couple-hour hike (max), this is the best place to go! You can of course hike shorter distances, but the entire loop is about 4 miles.
To get there, put 3310 Collins Rd, Denton, TX 76208 into your GPS. This place isn’t that hard to find, unlike SOME trails I have hunted for.
Or you can follow this handy dandy map I pulled up for you! 🙂
Yay for screenshots!
Here are some tips you will find useful if you’re visiting Clear Creek:
You’ll see a big gate with the sign hanging above it saying “Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center” on your right when you arrive. Just park anywhere in the gravel in front of the gate.
There’s a handy trail map immediately in front of the main gate, and you can see all the loops! (This is a rare convenience around North Texas.)
If you go right (at the beginning) you will come to a huge pond that’s beautiful for birdwatching. If you choose to go left (as we prefer to do) you will have to wade through some muddy swampland in order to get to a fork of the elm river. It’s all gorgeous!
Don’t go after a rain– it gets very buggy and the swampy areas are even more gross!
Wear waterproof boots.
If you’re interested in seeing more pictures from this particular trail, check out my earlier post: http://mandisadler.com/?p=1270
2. Eureka Park Nature Trails
These are our favorite “everyday” hiking trails.
If you’ve lived in Denton long, you’re probably familiar with Eureka park and the long loops of paved sidewalks that people run on. The ponds are lovely, and I really enjoy being there.
However, the hidden gem of this park is the mile-or-so of nature trails that exist just behind the tennis courts! Look for the sign that says “Nature Trail.”
The main loop of the trail is a standard gravel path. If it’s too rainy, Leben and I walk that path a few times to get in our exercise. If it’s a nice day, please be adventurous and take one of the side trails that branch into the woods on your right!
I love these winding trails. They’re so peaceful, and really easy to get to from Denton!
To get here, go to South Lakes Park, Denton, TX 76205.
The dirt nature trails are perfect for off-leash hiking. However, the main gravel loop as well as the paved sidewalks will definitely require a leash.
The nature trails aren’t really marked, and there are several different loops you can take off of the main gravel path. Do some exploring to find your favorites!
Some really great picnic hideaways can be found back in those woods if you’re willing to look.
Tennis shoes are perfectly fine for these trails, as are normal clothes. No need for boots here.
3. Wiggly Field Dog Park
These trails are really close by #2, and are PERFECT for hiking with your puppy! Because they’re behind the dog park… duh…
To find the Wiggly Fields trails, park in the gravel lot at the end of Duffy’s Way, and walk past the fenced-in dog run areas into the woods beyond. You will find a host of winding little trails, several ponds, and even a huge (small) lake!
The pond immediately behind the back corner of the “large dog” area is the perfect depth and size for dog swimming and splashing.
It is my urgent hope that Leben will figure out how to swim soon. He loves splashing in creeks… so we’re getting there?
To get here, travel to Wiggly Field Dog Park, Denton TX 76210:
Be aware that none of these trails are marked, and they’re all pretty windy. You might get lost, but who doesn’t love getting lost in the woods?? (…and home before dark! lol)
Pro tip: when going to this dog park, and especially when taking your dog swimming in the pond, and ESPECIALLY if you’re visiting this entire area after a rain, you need to plan on giving your dog a bath when you get home. And bring towels for your car. Trust me on this one.
I prefer to wear my rain boots to this dog park regardless of the weather. Some of the areas are sandy, and I just hate getting sand in my shoes. I’m definitely not the only one who has adopted the rainboots-at-the-dog-park trend!
I absolutely love taking Leben here. It may not be the right trail for you if you’re just hiking by yourself (especially if you don’t like dogs), but it’s perfect for our canine friends!
4. Rocky Point (Hidden) Trail in Flower Mound
This trail is one of those that took me half an hour of driving around in circles to find. It’s definitely not well-marked, and the trial head is almost impossible to find.
That being said, if you DO happen to come across this trail, you will find yourself in a little haven of happiness in the middle of suburban Flower Mound!
This is the smallest trail in my list, with a path only wide enough for one person to walk on. Leben and I can’t even walk side by side!
The trail winds downhill to a beautiful creek, passing by houses and pastures on the way, and winds around near horse farms at the bottom. It is definitely the best workout of all of these trails! Coming back up is the closest thing you’ll get to “real hiking” in this area.
Pro Instructions from a hiking website: Turn south onto High Road (there is a light at this intersection) and continue .5 miles to a small parking area on the left (east) side of the road. If you make it to Sunnyview Lane you have gone to far. There is no signage, and the parking area is just a wide spot in the road.
If you’re hiking this trail, please wear real boots. Some places are muddy and washed out, and you might slip down a bank here and there. Be prepared to face some serious mud at the bottom, even if it hasn’t just rained.
You will see some unbelievable wildlife on this trail that makes all the hassle worth it! (Cough HORSES cough)
If you remember, this is the site of my “perfect hike” post, which you can find here: http://mandisadler.com/?p=1371
5. Old Alton Bridge Trail
This was one of the first trails I happened upon in Denton, and it’s a nice brief and wide path that’s suitable for normal clothes and shoes.
I love visiting Old Alton Bridge at any time of year, and hiking the trail just in front of the parking area is a great way to give the landmark some attention. The bridge is also a popular spot for taking graduation/roommate/engagement pictures!
Unfortunately, every time I have hiked this trail I have had to turn around due to flooding out of the path about a half mile in. It’s mud that even I and my boots weren’t really keen to slosh through. But, before that point it’s a nice and peaceful area!
To get here, travel to Old Alton Bridge, Argyle, TX 76226:
This is also a pretty crowded trail, especially on weekend mornings with good weather. If you prefer strangers with your hiking, this is the place to go. People will for sure greet you.
This path is the perfect place to take a friend for a casual stroll-and-chat, because the path is wide and requires no bushwhacking. (AKA: This is hiking approved for non-nature-lovers.)
If you want more pictures of this trail, check them out here: http://mandisadler.com/?p=1203
Closed/Washed Out Trails:
One of the most prominent lessons you learn in this area is that the hiking trail you’re seeking might not be there anymore. It might be closed due to flooding, it might be under construction, or it might have been demolished as a future subdivision site.
When you’ve driven an hour to find this particular trail, realizing it’s not there is the most frustrating thing in the world.
Before you go hunting for trails around Denton, please be aware that the following trails are INACCESSIBLE as of May 2016:
My very favorite summer hiking trail is the Greenbelt Corridor, which is accessible off of University (380) just a little further past the turn-off for Clear Creek. However, this trail has been flooded out for over 1.5 years due to heavy rains.
Used to be, you could park in the lot for $7 (or buy a season pass for cheaper) and you could hike OR BIKE all the way to the lake! That’s almost ten miles one way!
This trail is also really wide and mostly gravel, so it’s perfect for strollers and bicyclists. It’s also great for the summer, when bugs make the smaller trails almost unbearable.
Cross Timbers Trail Head in Flower Mound near the corner of Cross Timbers and 377 is also closed due to flooding. It’s also nearly impossible to find due to the construction on Cross Timbers road– you can’t access the trail head easily.
If you’re interested in checking this one out, get yourself to that intersection and follow the tiny little brown signs that point toward the trail head. You’ll end up driving on some random farm roads, but you’ll end up in the right place.
LLELA Nature Preserve in Lewisville might be a great place to hike, but they don’t allow pets. When I inquired about this, the lady told me they’ve had bobcat problems. I’d struggle to think that a bobcat would have a problem with Leben (lol) but there you have it. I considered this trail a bust.
Wichita Forest Trail in Lewisville is in the middle of suburbia, and has succumbed to the pressures of capitalism. The trail no longer exists, while the tiny little playground at the trailhead is still standing. This entire area has been flattened to put in a new subdivision. Yay.
Helpful Denton Area Hiking Websites:
These sites have been my starting place for finding plenty of new trails. They give you great information on the terrain, policies, and location of each local trail they feature. However, please note that they are hardly ever current as to trail closures!
Cross Timbers Equestrian Trail Association: http://www.cteta.org/cteta-trails.php
Every Trail–Lewisville: http://www.everytrail.com/best/hiking-lewisville-texas
All Trails– Flower Mound: http://alltrails.com/trail/us/texas/rocky-point-trail
Well, there you have it folks! Five years of local Denton hiking knowledge and experience condensed for your reading pleasure.
I DO hope you will check out some of these trails and enjoy some of the beautiful nature that North Texas has to offer.
Until next time, farewell Denton!
“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” –Henry David Thoreau