Katy Trail vies with White Rock Lake as the best loved park in Dallas. The trail is a converted railway that stretches 3 ½ miles from Victory Park near the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas to the SMU campus.
Katy Trail vies with White Rock Lake as the best loved park in Dallas. The trail is a converted railway that stretches 3 ½ miles from Victory Park near the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas to the SMU campus. Eventually, it will link up with the White Rock Trail and the Trinity River Trail to create a 12-mile stretch.
What Makes It Great
Dallas may be America’s most car-centric city. Groups like the Friends of Katy Trail are trying to change that by building attractive tree-lined paths that thread the more densely populated neighborhoods of the city. Walking the Katy Trail is as much about communing with your city as it is a chance for exercise and blue skies.
Walking the Katy Trail feels a bit like striking a tiny blow against the prevailing car culture of Dallas. There are certainly trails within an hour or two that are closer to nature, but there’s something deliciously subversive about walking through downtown. If you walk on any but the hottest or coldest days, you’ll find plenty of fellow revolutionaries. To ease the traffic burden, the trail actually has two parallel paths marked for walking and running. Better still, the track largely avoids cross walks and traffic lights by using bridges and tunnels that date from a time when the path was a rail corridor.
Much of the trail follows Turtle Creek and the skirts the park that borders the waterway. The Katy Trail proper is too far from the creek to really be called a waterside walk, but it does benefit from the increased distance from major streets. There is no reason not to take detours, though, and walk along the creek for part of the way. Since Turtle Creek Park abuts one of DFW’s most exclusive neighborhoods, the park is exquisitely landscaped and very well maintained. Katy Trail benefits from this attention, too: it is very clean and tidy considering the urban setting and the many visitors.
One additional perk of the trail are the facilities: several indoor flush toilets scattered along the path, frequent water fountains and even several trail-side bars and restaurants beckon the weary walker with outdoor tables and open yards dotted with tables and benches.
Despite all this extravagance, Katy Trail is clearly a long step above just rambling along Dallas city streets. The tall trees, the bordering parks, the absence of car traffic all make this a very pleasant walk on a weekend afternoon,
Who is Going to Love It
This is certainly not the trail for the nature enthusiast seeking solitude. The Katy Trail is as much a social experience of several of Dallas’ hippest neighborhoods as it is a hiking destination. This is the perfect trail for people looking for a walk through the heart of Texas’ largest city without being beset by buildings or walking alongside car traffic.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Just west and north of downtown Dallas. Refer to the trail map for access points. The American Airlines Center parking lots may be used on the southern end, provided no event is being staged. On the northern end, parking is available near the Lamps Plus on Knox.
Also, the DART Orange Rail Line brackets the beginning and end of the trail: Victory Station on the south, Mockingbird on the north. With just a ½ mile of sidewalk, you could park at one end (such as the DART park and ride at Mockingbird Station), walk the trail, and ride back.