Cedar Ridge Preserve, formerly Dallas Nature Center

Hiking through a grasslands area along the Fossil Ridge Trail.

Cat Tail Pond

Looking for a free, fun, family activity as the hectic holiday season is winding down?  The Cedar Ridge Preserve, formerly the Dallas Nature Center just 20 minutes outside downtown Dallas, Texas may be exactly what you need for a change of pace.  At an elevation of 755 feet, the highest point in the Dallas/Fort Worth area,  you may think you have discovered a bit of Hill Country as you explore the 633 acre preserve right off of Interstate 20 in Dallas, Texas.  10 miles of wooded trails offer hikers of all abilities an opportunity to enjoy the native juniper, grasses and wildflowers.  The Little Bluestem Trail, Butterfly Trail and Possum Haw Trail offer easy walks from 1/4 miles to 3/4 miles round trip.  The Cattail Pond Trail is one of the most popular hikes rewarding the hiker with a view of Joe Pool Lake if you climb the observation platform midway down and on a clear day the skyline of the city of Fort Worth is yours to enjoy.  Allow 1 1/2 hours for the moderate Cattail Pond Trail hike of 1.5 miles round trip.  More difficult trails include the Fossil Valley Trail and the Cedar Brake Trail.  Allow 2 hours for The Fossil Valley Trail, the most challenging trail at the preserve, requiring mostly climbing and then descending steep grades.  For the second half of the hike rather than backtracking you can continue onto the gentler Cattail Pond Trail for your return to the Visitor’s Center.  The Cedar Brake Trail is also for those desiring a more challenging hike.  Allow 2 hours for the sometimes steep slopes on this 2.5 mile round trip hike.  The shorter Mulberry Trail (1/2 mile round trip) intersects with the Bluebonnet Trail (1 mile round trip) offering generally easy walks with spectacular nature experiences.  The Cedar Ridge Preserve managed by the Dallas Audubon Society as a non profit natural habitat is open every day but Monday.  Winter hours are 630AM-6PM.  Summer hours are 630AM-830PM.  Admission is free.  A donation is requested for parking.  Most special programs are free however some may charge a fee.  Motorized vehicles of any kind are forbidden as well as bicycles and skateboards not allowed.  7171 Mountain Creek Pkwy, Dallas Texas, 75249 972-709-7784   audubondallas.org/cedarridge.html

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