The Trinity River Audubon Center lies in the heart of the Great Trinity Forest, just minutes from downtown Dallas. The park contains a large educational center at the nexus of several miles of trails. It’s worth a visit just to see the building, the first LEED-certified structure in the Dallas park system. The trails themselves offer quiet paths through rare river-bottom forest habitat, with plentiful view points for observing waterfowl and other wildlife.
What Makes It Great
This may be the perfect park for sweltering Dallas summers: shaded paths, quiet woods, and a spectacularly beautiful air-conditioned building at the heart of the park. This is also an excellent destination for birders and wildlife enthusiasts due to the interpretive exhibits, and the diverse array of animal habitats in a relatively small space: ponds, river, broad-leaf forest, juniper forest and open prairie.
The Trinity River Audubon Center is a joint project between Dallas City Parks and the Audubon Society. The trails are pleasant, easy walking through surprisingly varied landscape. Pick up a trail map at the front desk since the trails are not well marked (although they’re short enough that it’s nearly impossible to get really lost). You could easily make the loops around the visitor center in an hour or two of ambling, including a view point on little hill-top that looks out across the tree-tops.
For a longer hike, look for the paved path that intersects the TRAC paths (labeled AT&T Trail on the map). Although technically a rails-to-trails bicycle path, the trail is sparsely used even on weekends. Parts of the trail are quite far from area roads, leaving the sounds of wind and river to dominate on your walk. The forest here is mature river-bottom oaks, cottonwoods and maples. It makes a pleasant change from the juniper scrub that is common elsewhere around Dallas. The AT&T trail does not loop, unfortunately, but the walk is so pleasant that returning the same way is not a chore.
Two words of caution: the paths around the nature center are just bare blackland prairie dirt. That is to say that in wet weather the clay soil will cling to your shoes until your feet have trebled in weight, and the black color will seep into cloth footwear (such as tennis shoes or ventilated hiking boots). The AT&T trail, by contrast is paved, but that means that poor quality footwear will punish the wearer.
Who is Going to Love It
This park will appeal to those looking for an easier walk in a unique habitat. None of the trails are particularly challenging, although you could link the nearby AT&T and Trinity Forest trails for an additional 8+ miles of walking. Come to Trinity River for the quiet, and to see a really unique interpretive center.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Seasonality: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m." Closed on Mondays and Major Holidays Third Thursday of each month, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (FREE general admission)
The center is located ten miles from Dallas at 6500 Great Trinity Forest Way Dallas, TX, 75217.