The TADRA Point Trailhead is the starting point for a network of 70+ miles of trails that loop across several units of the LBJ/Caddo Grasslands. The LBJ Grasslands cover over 20,000 scattered acres in North Central Texas.
The TADRA Point Trailhead is the starting point for a network of 70+ miles of trails that loop across several units of the LBJ/Caddo Grasslands. The LBJ Grasslands cover over 20,000 scattered acres in North Central Texas, and there are multiple recreational opportunities in that area. This article covers just the TADRA Point system of trails.
What Makes It Great
Where else in North Central Texas can you find 70 contiguous miles of well-marked trails through quiet back country? The presence of wind-mill filled stock tanks makes multi day mid-summer hikes a real possibility (with proper water purification technology on hand). Shorter hikes through forest and grassland, in near-total solitude with only occasional, distant car noise are very doable. Plus cheap-to-free primitive car-side camping is available next to Cottonwood Lake near the trail head.
The TADRA trail system is complex. DO NOT ATTEMPT these trails without a color print-out of the trail maps and/or a gps unit with extra batteries. The trails here are very well marked with frequent color-coded paint splotches on trees and fence posts, but the trails loop and braid and cross each other with wild abandon. Much of the area is beyond cell-phone range so google maps will be unreliable at best (and shows forest service roads that may or may not actually exist). On the ground, the “black trail” in the maps above is marked with white blazes. Finally, do not count on using the green dotted “shortcut” trails on the maps. In practice, the shortcuts are difficult to find and are not as well maintained.
The trails themselves, however, traverse beautiful low woodlands and open ridge-top prairies. On a recent Memorial Day weekend, we encountered only two other parties in a day-long hike. Best of all, traffic sounds are non-existent. There is real quiet and peace to be found here, along with expansive views over miles of rural North Texas countryside. This is not wilderness – farms abut and interweave with the National Grassland patches – but it is as far from the city as you can get within a reasonable drive of DFW.
Although this is technically a national grassland, actual grassland is in short supply except on the highest areas, and in occasional open clearings. The trail surfaces are mostly red clay with occasional patches of bare limestone or limestone cobbles. In wet weather, the trails become drainages and the mud can be ankle deep in places, and remarkably slick and/or clinging.
Keep in mind that TADRA stands for the Texas Arabian Distance Riding Association. TADRA built and maintains the trails for equestrian use. Hikers are welcome, but be aware of the dual use. While the trails are largely free of obstructions, and are remarkably uniform in grade, they are also very wide and, in many places, dug deeply into the ground. This can create the impression of walking down a narrow country lane, rather than the narrow foot path we often associate with a hiking trail. On the plus side, the wide trails provide some protection from the abundant and exuberant poison ivy.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers looking for a significant distance challenge, or just some real, deep quiet far from the crowds at other North Central Texas parks.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Seasonality: No potable water is available anywhere along the trail, although wind-mill fed stock tanks (marked on the trail maps) provide water clean enough to use with a water purification system.
The many stock tanks and small creek dams make for ideal mosquito habitat – bring repellent even if not spending time near the lakes.
No gate or permanent staff presence. Check with National Grassland Headquarters ((940) 627-5475 ) for local conditions – trails and roads may be closed due to extreme weather, but not noted on the website.
54 miles north of downtown Fort Worth, 85 miles northwest of downtown Dallas; travel FM 730 north 10 miles; turn left on CR 2461 and bear to the right on to CR 2560 for 3 miles and turn left on FS Road 900. TADRA Point Trailhead is on the right at 2 miles.