UPDATED OCT 17, 2019
We’ve got our fair share of outdoor cycling enthusiasts in Dallas, and with over 150 miles of paved pathways and 200 miles of scenic trails to explore, it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re biking to work or gearing up for a race, we’ve got you covered with the top bike trails in the Big D.
The bike trails at Rowlett Creek Preserve make for a low-elevation ride suited for beginners and intermediate cyclists alike. With around 15 miles of winding pathways on (mostly) flat, tree-heavy terrain and 14 looped routes to choose from, nature-lovers will enjoy the scenic views that the creek provides. It’s open from 6am to midnight, and along the trail you’ll find a picnic area with water fountains and a portable toilet, perfect for when you need to make a pit stop.
A ride along the trail in River Legacy Park is probably the prettiest on this list, and the bridges crossing the river provide natural photo ops along the way. The eight-mile route follows the curvy Trinity River amidst the breathtaking backdrop of Arlington’s forests. Beginners will fare well on this trail, but those that want a little more of a challenge can choose to forego the blue signs for the red. Get here as early as 5am for a breezy ride to start your day.
Leisurely rides not really your thing? Meet Boulder Park, home to a rocky, 11-mile trail on the southern tip of Dallas that offers more change in elevation than the Rowlett Creek Preserve and River Legacy Park trails combined. Get ready to work those legs as you face off a few steep(ish) hills — and then feel the rush of wind as you fly through the faster sections. The park is accessible from 6am to 11pm, so you can get in your outdoor sweat sesh practically any time of day. Oh, and parking is available in the Concord Church lot from Monday through Saturday.
Adrenaline junkies are in for quite the treat with this route filled with roller coaster dips, sharp turns, grueling climbs, and speedy descents. Known as “Prayer Mountain” by Dallas bikers, the Big Cedar route tops off at the highest elevation in DFW, around 700 feet above sea level, and consists of one main loop that feeds into multiple mini loops featuring various terrain. Keep in mind that helmets aren’t the only caution required: bikers must file a waiver with the steward before hitting the trail.
Perhaps the most challenging bike trail in DFW, North Shore Trail circles Grapevine Lake and totals approximately 22 miles of varied terrain broken up into two main loops: the East Loop, which includes 12.5 miles of smooth surface and the West Loop, that offers both one-way and out-and-back trails amidst rockier terrain. Three different trailheads make accessing the route incredibly easy, but make sure to start at Murrell Park for free entry (and bathrooms!).
City dwellers in search of alternative transportation can rent a bike and hop on the Katy Trail for a leisurely ride across Downtown Dallas. The 3.5-mile route stretches from Southern Methodist University to Victory Park and covers one of the densest parts of the city. Although, be aware that you’ll be sharing the path with the motor vehicles, walkers, and joggers that abound here — so slow your pace to smell the roses or stop at the Katy Trail Ice House along the way for a quick bite and/or beer.
You only have to drive five minutes outside of downtown to find one of the most popular trails in DFW. This 9.33-mile trail hugs the shoreline of White Rock Lake and boasts beautiful views of both the park and the city from the east side. Bathrooms and water fountains are abundant in this neck of the woods, as are picnic tables and pavilions — all you have to do is bring your wattle bottle and sense of adventure.
The trail at Cedar Hill State Park was created by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. Here’s how we know: it’s named after the volunteers of the Dallas Off Road Biking Association. (Read: it’s no piece of cake.) The DORBA trail sits on 1,200 acres of lush landscape and includes three consecutive trails that each span three to 12 miles. The route is open on dry days, but make sure you bring your wallet — bikers are required to pay $7 admission.
Five connected loops along the bank of the White Rock Creek come together to form the Harry S Moss Park Trail, almost six miles of mostly bench-cut singletrack to ride. This is a great trail for intermediate-level bikers, as it combines craggy hills, towering trees, and creek edges with human elements like wooden bridges and cement sidewalks. Park in the Buckeye Beverages lot to access the trail off Walnut Hill Ln. in Northwest Dallas.
A local favorite, Santa Fe Trail connects White Rock Lake and historic Deep Ellum, the hippest neighborhood in East Dallas, by a 12-foot-wide concrete path. Start your adventure where Garland Rd. and Gaston Ave. intersect, and ride the four miles down to the land of watering holes, graffiti walls, and eclectic shops for your touring pleasure. After you’ve refueled and relaxed, hop back on your bike take the path back to home base.
Need a little peace and quiet? The Oak Cliff bike trail is as secluded as it gets within the city walls, with six-plus miles of well-wooded area that (according to regulars) can make it easy to get lost. Which, for most, is part of the appeal. Let go of your sense of direction and take your wheels through the fields of wildflowers for a tranquil morning or afternoon trek you won’t forget.