White Rock Lake may be Dallas’s best loved park. Located just to the north and east of down town Dallas, White Rock offers a 9 mile trail with long views over the lake. Although hardly the picture of solitude, the trail around White Rock Lake offers an unusually long urban hike in the heart of a major American City.
What Makes It Great
Visiting White Rock Lake on a sunny spring day is a top-five Dallas experience. There is something really wonderful about sharing the outdoors with your fellow citizens. Perhaps it’s the sense of glee that comes of escaping the concrete jungle all together. Plus, there are a few hidden nooks that make for a feeling of true escape.
Winfrey Point may be the best spot along lake. There are many access points to the loop trail, but if at all possible, try to time your walk such that you end up back at Winfrey Point at dusk. The hill top benches at the point are a perfect spot to reflect on your walk as you watch the sun set over the Dallas skyline across the lake.
At nearly all points along the trail, your sight lines extend all the way across the lake making it possible to mark your progress. There are several other loop trails that are as long, but none with such wide-open views. The main trail is paved and marked with a center line. On weekends, you will share the path with young children on tricycles, road bikes, roller bladers and runners, so do pay attention to the traffic around you. Along the way, look for the Boat House museum and cultural center, the Dallas Arboretum (an all-day trip on its own) and several public art installations.
One of the major drawbacks of the park is the difficulty in getting to the trail after early morning. The city’s DART green line has a stop near Flag Pole Hill at the north end of the park. Alternatively, the parking lot near the old chlorination plant at the south end of the park also offers a hidden and rarely-used lot.
For a shorter and quieter walk, the south end of the lake also hosts an abandoned fish hatchery nestled between the White Rock Lake dam and the water plant. The hatchery area is poorly marked (although it is visible on the map as point #17). The hatchery has densely wooded trails and old overgrown ponds that create a unique, forested wetland environment. Deer, fox, and even coyotes have been spotted, as well as abundant bird life.
Who is Going to Love It
Everyone in Dallas should visit at least once. Those who are looking to spend a day outside without driving far will love the lake, as will people who don’t mind a few hundred companions joining in the nature walk.