Rick Johnson, assistant manager at Bicycles Inc., which has stores in Hurst, Fort Worth, Arlington and Southlake, says mountain bike riding is especially fun at night “because it’s very dark except for what your lights see.”
Johnson is an avid cyclist who keeps an eye out for copperheads and “walking speed bumps,” aka armadillos. He says with the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association, the Fort Worth Bicycling Association and the Fort Worth Mountain Bikers Association, “there are a lot of people who volunteer their time as trail stewards. They are the people who go out and voluntarily keep the trails built up, cleaned up, debris off of them, washouts, rebuilds … so that we can enjoy the trails and go have fun.”
880 Simmons Road, Flower Mound
This 22.5 mile, one-way, looped trail runs along the northern side of Lake Grapevine from Rockledge Park to Twin Coves Park. Its natural terrain ranges from easy to difficult, and its three trailheads are at Twin Coves, Rockledge Park and Murrell Park.
Each week, hundreds of cyclists visit North Shore Trail, which DORBA brands the “most well-known and most used trail in the entire Metroplex.”
The trail’s 12.5 mile eastern loop between Rockledge Park and Murrell Park is more suitable for beginners and is “a little more flat,” says John Mathney, park ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The western loop, between Murrell Park and Twin Coves, is a bit more technical, with more rocks and tree roots. DORBA maintains the trails, and park hours are from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
1629 Park Road 59, Glen Rose
Dinosaurs once roamed the muddy areas here along an ancient ocean. Today, their preserved tracks can be seen in the bed of the Paluxy River at Dinosaur Valley State Park, which is about an hour and a half drive from Dallas.
Joining the historical record are 20 miles of challenging trails for hiking, biking and other park activities such as geocaching. Customer service representative Josh Tiller says about 16 miles of the trails are used for biking. He describes the terrain as rugged and says most of the trails cross the Paluxy River with no bridges.
“It’s Texas Hill Country with limestone everywhere,” DORBA’s webpage says. “Lots of fire-breathing climbs. This is not the best groomed trail around, but it may be the best mountain bike adventure you can have in North Texas.”
Day use is $7 per adult, and children younger than 13 get in free. Trails may close in hazardous weather conditions, so it’s best to call 254-897-4588 before making the drive, Tiller says. The park is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., but office hours vary.
2875 Pierce St.
In the heart of Dallas, the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve is a 121-acre urban oasis with 8 miles of trails. The DART Red Line to Westmoreland Station stops near the trailhead, where cyclists can then explore the natural area’s intermediate trails while riding up hills and across open fields that are often filled with wildflowers. DORBA maintains the trails, and its website says two creeks cross the property 14 times, creating numerous wet water crossings.
“If you want to look at some place that’s pretty to ride, [Oak Cliff Nature Preserve] is probably one of the prettier places around here,” Johnson says.
300 NE 6th St., Fort Worth
Trinity Trails’ scenic pathways offer 40 miles of biking or running trails along with numerous trail heads, including the newly opened Airfield Falls Conservation Park, which is bordered by the Kings Branch and Farmers Branch arms of the Trinity River.
“There is a paved trail that leads down to Kings Branch and bridges over both,” says trinitytrails.org, a website dedicated to providing up-to-date trail information. “The trail follows the waterway to the waterfall and is beautifully landscaped with drought tolerant plants and butterfly-attracting, flowering plants.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price has been a strong advocate for a bike trail system linking Fort Worth and Dallas. An avid cyclist, she has also been known to host rolling town halls along the winding trails, which cyclist Ron Wofford says can accommodate most levels of cycling without interference from traffic.
“A cyclist can easily do a 50-mile loop without entering the roadways,” Wofford says on Trinity Trails’ Facebook page.
River Legacy Park (pictured at top)
701 NE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
In the natural bottomlands and prairies along the Trinity River in Arlington are eight miles of paved hike and bike trails, as well as 10 miles of mountain bike trails ranging from moderate to challenging.
The 1,000-plus-acre park, much of which is shaded, is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and its wooded areas are a natural habitat to hundreds of species of wildlife, including bobcats, armadillos, raccoons, wild boars, snakes, and turtles, which can often be spotted along the trail routes.
“Out there, the only thing I ever worry about is rounding a corner and running into a feral mama hog with piglets,” Johnson says.
Although not 100 percent complete, River Legacy Trails are part of the vision to link Dallas and Fort Worth via trail, says Michael Debrecht, park operations manager.
“We are in the planning stages to extend our eastern portion to [State Highway] 360 where [Fort Worth] and Grand Prairie can then join and extend within their jurisdictions,” he says.
“There are plenty of trails to explore,” writes Daniel Alvarez on the park’s Facebook page. “The first time I went, I saw a coyote, a lynx, a snake and an armadillo.”
Mill Creek at Mill Wood Drive, Colleyville
This 46-acre urban paradise has 3.5 miles of multi-use trails. The natural refuge’s nine ponds provide a backdrop for inspiring views and a haven for wildlife such as heron, ducks and geese.
Colleyville Parks Manager Heather Dowell says the trails meander through thick forest along the creek edge, where people love that they can “step away from the fast-pace hustle and bustle and back in time to a park that has preserved the wonders of nature, allowing them to disconnect from the stresses of life and connect with nature.”
“An easily accessible, paved trail leads into a densely wooded area near Little Bear Creek," says the Texas Parks and Recreation webpage. “From here, unpaved nature trails loop around the area.”
The trails connect with other ponds, as well as a scattering of park benches and picnic tables that supply nicely shaded rest areas. Jeremy Martin’s review on alltrails.com calls the area “a great, hidden gem right smack dab in the middle of Colleyville.”
Teel Parkway at Gloryview Road, Frisco
Just minutes from the North Dallas Tollway, this 8-mile trail offers an easy ride for beginners, but its openness means that summer rides can be a scorcher.
“The more advanced rider has a couple of whoop-de-doos and tight turns to keep them entertained,” according to texasmountainbiketrails.com.
The 2.5 mile, beginner-friendly outer trail known as the Ranger Loop has blue way-markers, and the Wolverine is a little more than a mile and can be identified by orange way-markers. Wolverine has some tighter turns and steeper climbs, says the city’s website, along with a bypass near the trail’s end that allows cyclists to repeat the trail. Those who choose the 1.5-mile Redhawk trail, identified by its red way-markers, can expect some long climbs and large downhills. Cyclists can repeat this trail, as well.
1570 FM1382, Cedar Hill
DORBA designed this mountain bike trail, one of the most popular in the state. The organization's website describes it as “mostly dry hardpack with roots and some rocks.”
“It’s a lot different that the more flat, creek crossing and rock strewn areas of some of the other parts of the local bike trails,” Johnson says. “It allows climbing and switchbacks and downhills.”
The park’s largest trail is a triple-loop hiking and biking trail. The short loop is 2.5 miles, and the middle loop runs for 7 miles. Those looking to bike a longer distance can take the outside loop, which stretches more than 10 miles. The winding paths offer plenty of ups and downs, but the park webpage says none of the trails, which cover open and wooded areas, is overly strenuous.
The trail is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., but it is recommended that visitors call 972-291-3900 in advance to check for trail closures.
1366 California Crossing
In Northwest Dallas near the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, this 10-mile mountain bike trail is ideal for both endurance-building rides and leisure rides, says the Dallas Park and Recreation webpage. Many of the multi-use trails crowd the banks of the Trinity River and are surrounded by trees.
The park, which is open 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., offers two trailheads, one of which has 11 loops and is at California Crossing. The trailhead at Wildwood Road offers a few short loops and four trails: River Trail, Creek Trail, Beaver Trail and Swamp Trail.
“It’s pretty flat,” Johnson says, “but it’s a nice trail-riding area.”
2500 Roberts-Cut-Off, Fort Worth
This trail has “a lot of loose rock and many climbs,” with several fishing and deer trails crossing the bike paths and a skill level ranging from intermediate to expert, DORBA’s website says. The trails are made up of the main white loop with four white loops that spur off and boomerang back near the start of each loop. In addition, there are three red loops spurring from the white loop.
Johnson says the trails are very popular, and “it’s one of the more challenging courses around.”
Sansom Park’s 11 miles of trails “wind through a wooded area with scenic vistas overlooking Lake Worth,” says the Fort Worth Mountain Bikers Association website. The group also points out that the white loop is intermediate while the red loops are expert level.
White Rock Creek Trail is also popular, and Johnson says Gateway Park has added some new trails in the mid-cities. He recommends checking DORBA’s website for trail locations, conditions and maps.
“It’s a real neat place to go and peruse what’s available,” he says.