I had kind of forgotten what a park looks like. I do love an urban green space with an endless line of food trucks, a board game rental station, and an on-site upscale cafe where I can sip some vino on a sunny patio. So much so that I tricked myself into thinking all parks should be like that. And then I took my family and my dog to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve on the last day of March, when we were sick and tired of an icy winter, when all the tiny green buds were just popping out of the trees, and I was like “Oh yeah, this is what a park looks like.”
Arbor Hills is a 200-acre nature preserve smack in the middle of a city. There are hiking and biking trails galore. There is a bridge with a little creek that runs beneath it where you can explore to your heart’s content. There are birds and squirrels and, to be honest, a lot of other critters I really don’t want to run into. There is a LOT of dirt and grass and trees. As far as you can see. You can walk and walk and walk until you have forgotten you’re only a few miles from a heavily trafficked highway and a shopping mall.
Near the entrance, there is a giant interconnected set of playgrounds. My kids have deemed it as the best playground in Plano. There are pavilions where you have your own picnic or birthday party. No artisan goat cheese paninis to be found. Bring your own bag of Cheetos and some Kool-aid and you’re good.
Beyond there, you are just going to have use your imagination. For there is no wi-fi in the woods, my friends. My family and I walked down a trail to a large pond that had a bunch of dead-looking trees lining the edge (remember, it was technically still winter, I think). My kids were complaining of boredom. They wanted to go back to the playground. They wanted to play on the iPad. They wanted to go home.
We sat around on some tree stumps to take a break, just listening to the sound of absolutely nothing. My son noticed at the edge of the water there were dozens of tadpoles darting around. We spotted a fallen tree that made a cool hide-out. Pretty soon both kids were sword-fighting with bare limbs and had forgotten that nature was “like, so boring.”
Go to Arbor Hills. It’s perfect for dogs, kids, adults, old people, cyclists, unicyclists (yes, we saw one), runners, hikers, photographers, bird-watchers, kite-flyers, and anyone just needing to escape reality for a while. Get out there and just enjoy doing nothing.Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Website > Trail Map >