Most everyone is still staying home – thanks, COVID-19. Though highly effective, this can be highly boring and may result in cabin fever. The good news, we can still walk out the front door without creating risk of catching the virus.
Below we’ve shared some great options for hiking areas and trails not far from Plano. Though Texas state parks closed during the shelter-in-place order, most are open again as of April 20. As long as the governor’s executive order is followed – wearing a face covering, keeping distance from others and limiting groups to five persons – visitors will be perfectly safe and able to blow off some steam. All of the spots listed below are close enough for a day trip, and are free unless otherwise stated. It’s best to call before visiting where possible in case of last-minute changes.
Lake Grapevine – .5-hour drive
Do all kinds of activities throughout the Lake Grapevine area including hiking, walking, running, biking, picnicking and fishing. Multiple trails run throughout the area including the North Shore Trail, the Meadowmere Park Trail, the C Shane Wilbanks Trail, the Oak Grove Trail and the Dove Loop Trail. Open 24/7.
Piedmont Ridge Trail – 1-hour drive
Only 1.3 miles long and just outside of Dallas, the Piedmont Ridge Trail is a quick outing for those looking to get out of the house but only for a couple of hours. The area is not highly trafficked, and visitors can bring leashed dogs. Drown out city noise and enjoy being in the middle of nature. Open 24/7.
Big Cedar Wilderness Trail – 1-hour drive
Between Grand Prairie and DeSoto are the Big Cedar Wilderness Trails. This beautiful collection of trails and mountain bike routes offers beautiful views of Texas trees, hills, and greenery. Similar to Piedmont Ridge, this is a quick outing; bring a speaker along for some tunes to enjoy while hiking or biking. Open 24/7.
Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve – 1-hour drive
Open from 6 a.m. ‘til dusk, Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve is another respite from sitting home all day. This place is a little slice of hill country just south of downtown Dallas. Navigate walking trails ranging from easy to difficult, and find native trees, grasses and wildflowers. Go bird watching here, or enjoy the butterfly gardens.
Eisenhower State Park – 1-hour drive
Located along the shores of Lake Texoma, Eisenhower State Park is a great spot to get away from city confines. Walk or bike along its trails, go swimming, bouldering, geocaching or picnicking along the shoreline. Visitors might find beautiful Texas wildflowers as well as fossils throughout the park. It’s also possible to go fishing if you have your own gear. The park is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily, and the entrance fee is $5 for adults and free for children 12 years old and younger.
Eagle Mountain Park – 1-hour drive
Fort Worth, TX
At Eagle Mountain Park, find 400 acres of Texas landscape to enjoy as well as animals, birds, and plants. At the park, hiking is the primary activity. There are more than five miles of well-maintained hiking trails. For the best view of Eagle Mountain Lake, take the Overlook Trail to the top. Pets are not allowed at this park, and it is open from dawn until 30 minutes after dusk every day.
Ray Roberts Lake State Park – 1-hour drive
Pilot Point, TX
Here at Ray Roberts Lake, hike, bike, ride your horse – if you have one – rollerblade, geocache or swim in one of the beach areas. Bring a camera and take photographs while enjoying nature. There is a 20-mile multiuse trail that runs from Ray Roberts Dam to Lake Lewisville. Visitors can use 12 miles of trail on horse, while 10 miles are for hike and bike use only. Entrance is $7 and the park is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.
Ladonia Fossil Park – 1.5-hour drive
Wear boots and take a bucket. Trek down to the river from a small parking area and walk as far as you want through the river, searching for fossils along the way. There is also a covered picnic area there that explorers can use. This is known to be an incredibly fun activity for kids to enjoy the outdoors while also getting dirty and discovering exciting artifacts. Open 24/7.
Daingerfield State Park – 2-hour drive
Known as the Cathedral of Trees, Daingerfield State Park is a forested area surrounding Little Pine Lake. Go hiking, birding, geocaching, swimming or fishing here. There is a 2.4-mile easy hike around the lake or a 1.2-mile intermediate hike called Mountain View Trail. Entrance fee is $4 and it is open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Dinosaur Valley State Park – 2-hour drive
Glen Rose, TX
When dinosaurs walked the Earth, they left footprints behind. Now, you can walk in their tracks in the bed of the Paluxy River. Here, check out dinosaur tracks, picnic, hike, mountain bike, swim, fish, explore wildlife, geocache or ride your horse. The dinosaur tracks will be found in the riverbed and are not always visible – check the park’s Facebook or Twitter before making a trip to see about track visibility that day. Entrance fee is $7 and it is open every day from 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
Always put personal safety first when spending time in any remote or wooded areas. Bring a hiking buddy, plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, bug spray and a simple first aid kit. Also, if hiking on a non-paved area, long socks and long pants are one’s best bet to avoid bug bites or cuts. And please take note – many of these areas do not offer public restrooms, so plan accordingly.