The Trinity River cuts through the west side of downtown Dallas, Texas and meanders through the Great Trinity River Forest—an area of relatively untouched old wood forest growth. A plethora of boat ramps and parks dot the banks. These paddling trails are perfect for city dwellers looking for a day trip.
The paddling trail from Trammell Crow Park to the chalk banks of McCommas Bluff Preserve is about 13 miles.
Destination Distance From Downtown
2 of 5 diamonds
A slow meandering river besides the turbulent Dallas Wave.
Time To Complete
A plethora of boat ramps and parks dot the banks. Make a day trip out of it or get few hours on the river.
Consistent, year round water flow means these paddling trails are open all the time. Cooler weather makes the fall and spring more ideal times to paddle it. But, the lack of foliage does detract from the experience quite a bit.
The Trinity River begins as an urban river making it accessible for those living in the metroplex. With consistent flow rates, local river lovers can get out on the water year round. Starting at the Trammell Crow Public Boat Ramp to the Dallas Wave water feature the channel flows straight and quick under a number of bridges dating from the 1930s to the recent Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. It cuts through the industrial section of west Dallas with a great view of downtown off to the East. After the first 4 miles the paddling trail winds into more established areas of the river. At Miller’s bend the river takes a horseshoe cut. This marks the start of more dense trees and provides the habitat for birds such as blue heron, wood storks, and red-shouldered hawks.
Around the Loop 12 bridge the Trinity River enters the Great Trinity River Forest, an urban forest of relatively untouched bottomland hardwood trees. Here the banks change from mud and sand to white rock escarpment. Elm, sycamore, and willow trees line the banks. Parking at the Joppa Preserve gives access to the concrete boat ramp and the Trinity Forest hiking trail. Stop here to stretch your legs and have a picnic.
Who is Going to Love It
More experienced paddlers will enjoy the full paddling trail. Besides the Dallas Wave water feature this river meanders through its course. Always check river height and flow rate before taking to the water. The Dallas Wave, deemed unsafe for canoes, may require portage around the feature. Take the proper precautions and know your skill level. After the Dallas Wave the river provides a calm paddling trail. Those looking to explore the river with a guide should contact the Trinity River Audubon Center.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
This paddling trial has no public bathrooms. Trammell Crow Park, 1001 Sylvan Ave, has the best parking available. The Dallas Wave, N 32° 45' 10.45" / W 96° 47' 29.21", and Joppa Preserve, via Texas Loop 12 Service Rd, also have parking. The pullout chalk bank at McCommas Bluff Preserve, 32°41'48.26"N, 96°41'27.60"W, sits at the end of a gravel road. Many of these boat ramps, located in more remote areas, lack consistent traffic from outdoors lovers—know your surroundings and take caution with your belongings. Please note, the Trinity River, as an urban river, remains subject to heavy pollution from urban runoff. Dallas Trinity Trails provides a more in depth account of the Trinity River features.