Best Outdoors Experience (2001)

Cedar Hill State Park

Except for the distant whine of cars on Interstate 20, filtered through parched hills of mesquite, you'd easily forget you were anywhere near Dallas. Cedar Hill State Park, on the shores of Joe Pool Lake, offers the closest-to-unspoiled scenery you'll find in Dallas County, as well as attractive campsites and picnic areas. Lots of people come here to swim in the summer, but we avoid them and head for the web of hiking trails on the south side of the park. Amid the rolling hills and thickly scented forest and prairie greenery, we imagine we live someplace wild and picturesque, and the illusion holds pretty well until you spot a speeding SUV hauling a pair of Jetskis. Outdoor nuisances aside, you can almost always find a wilderness space to yourself at Cedar Hill State Park. Buy a $50 Conservation Pass and use the park (as well as any other state park) year-round; otherwise, the single-day fee is $10.

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