The Dallas-Fort Worth area may be a sprawling metropolis, but there’s no shortage of natural beauty both in the city and among its (vast) outskirts. This is Texas, after all, and Texas is big. And spread out. And quite wild. Folks here also appreciate a good craft brew or a good number of other poisons with our long-loved Tito’s Vodka being made in state and, now, even bourbon and (Texas) moonshine. Our days are also long and, in the summer, often grueling. So we’ve gotten real good at pairing two of the things we love most ‘round here: trails and ales. Whether downtown lovin’ is your cup of tea (er, booze) or you prefer a watering hole outside of town, here are five pairings for your day off.
1. Dogwood Canyon | Bishop Cider Company
For those who appreciate rare flora, observing endangered birds, and fresh cider, this pairing goes quite nicely with a spring day. Begin your day just outside of Cedar Hill State Park , southwest of Dallas in Cedar Hill, Texas. Here you’ll find Dogwood Canyon, founded by the good people of Wild Birds Unlimited. In the spring, Dogwood Canyon is rich with color as the flowering dogwoods blossom, and also rich with birdsong, as hummingbirds are regulars around these parts. It’s also thought that the endangered golden-cheeked warblers live among the reserve. The trails within Dogwood Canyon are short, but they’re also hilly and picturesque with scenic overlooks providing views of nearby Cedar Hill State Park and Joe Pool Lake.
Once you’ve had your day’s flora and fauna fix, head just due north to Bishop Cider Company in Southwest Dallas’ Oak Cliff. With ciders named things like Crackberry and Suicider, Bishop’s cider may be unconventional in the text of the old school, offering up cider with jalapenos, peaches, pecans, and hops, but that’s precisely what makes it so Texas. Even better, you are assured a high-quality concoction at the Cider Company because the owners’ philosophy is simply: “Is this a cider that we want to drink all day every day?” And that’s a philosophy we can support.
2. Lake Grapevine’s North Shore Trail | Grapevine Craft Brewery
North Shore Trail runs along Lake Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas (northwest of Dallas) and offers an incredibly scenic out-and-back hike and bike trail up to 12 miles each way. There are three entry points to the trail, though you should take note of the two free entry points (because we’re saving our money for a post-hike brew, right?): Murrell Park and Twin Coves Park. Twin Coves Park technically has a fee, but the official Lake Grapevine site says if you park outside of the gate and enter the trail, there is no fee. Because the trail follows alongside Lake Grapevine, it’s an incredible place for those who enjoy chasing a stellar sunrise or sunset (though if drinking is on the agenda, perhaps sunset is a better choice).
After the sun sets (or rises—we aren’t judging), head over to Grapevine Craft Brewery. The local brew joint says “craft is their middle name.” There’s always a selection of rotating seasonal and limited release beers and the year-round staples like the crisp Monarch Pilsner (which is a great choice after a hot day aside the lake) and Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout (which makes for a good cool weather beer). Grapevine Craft Brewery is an award-winning kind of place, with awards won from events like the Great American Beer Festival and the Denver International Beer Competition. They often feature great local food trucks too, so you can sample the finest of Grapevine in just one sitting.
3. Big Cedar Wilderness Trails | Deep Ellum Brewery
Southwest of downtown, Big Cedar Wilderness Trails offer more than twenty miles of pristine, well-kept trails that are great for hiking and biking. There are both short and long loops that cross over the highest elevation in the city, which provides a great sunset viewing point and beautiful views of a nearby lake and downtown. Some of the trails are moderate, so those seeking a solid workout before imbibing have the opportunity to experience a good bit of elevation change, while still being close to downtown Dallas.
Once you’ve finished your Big Cedar elevation, it’s only appropriate to go to what is, perhaps, Dallas’ longest celebrated brewpub—Deep Ellum Brewery in the heart of downtown Dallas, where they say “love runs deep.” We can argue that post-hike cheer and a solid ABV can certainly lead to love running deep. The Deep Ellum IPA is a go-to classic at the brewery, while other local favorites include its Double Blonde and the Double Brown Stout. If you’re the kind who prefers to take a sixer for the road, the Easy Peasy IPA is described as a “perfect summer beer” and travels well.
4. Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge | The Collective Brewing Project
Fort Worth is a little less big city and a whole lot more old-school Texas. And that means the area immediately surrounding the city is a lot less developed than nearby Dallas. The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is a sprawling refuge that provides nearly 4,000 acres of beautiful land along the West Fork of the Trinity River. Paddlers and hikers love the park for its pristine landscapes and outside-the-city vibes. There are more than twenty miles of hiking trails ranging from a quarter of a mile to 3.3 miles, and several entry points to the river, so land and water folks alike will enjoy the well-preserved ecosystems within the refuge.
Whether you’ve spent the day paddling along the Trinity or hiking the refuge’s trails, Fort Worth’s The Collective Brewing Project is a perfect next stop to wind down and hydrate. They call themselves Fort Worth’s “first franken-monster of a brewery” and use the hashtag #funkytownbeer, both of which are a warm invite to their tucked away taproom in an unassuming corner of the city’s Southside. Staple beers include their Mustache Rye’d and Tropic Thunder. And, if you’re anything like the masterminds behind Collective Brewing, you may be tempted to take a growler to go. Maybe even all the way to Big Bend.
5. Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve | Nine Band Brewing
Just twenty miles northeast of Dallas in Plano, Texas is an 800-acre nature preserve called Oak Point Park . The park was recently named a Certified Audubon Sanctuary because of the number of bird species that flourish within the preserve, making it an ideal day trip for birdwatchers and photographers too. Offering 3.5 miles of paved trails and more than seven miles of soft-surface trails that follow along Rowlett Creek, the park provides access to an environment that's largely undisturbed as well as a pavilion and amphitheater. While the trails at Oak Point Park are not technical, they are far from the bustle of city life and immerse you into an important, peaceful, and beautiful ecosystem.
When you've finished exploring Oak Point's trails, head just six miles north of Plano to Nine Band Brewing in Allen, considered the Plano-area's first microbrewery. The 8,000-foot facility and taproom is filled with vats brewing up three signature beers and a range of seasonal blends, and communal, handmade wooden tables that make bringing a big crew or rallying a new one an easy task. Whether their 6% Nine Band Pale Ale or their 10.6% Toad Choker Barleywine is more your speed, Big Band's taps are eager to pour you a post-adventure brew that'll keep you on your toes, or bring you to your knees. Bottoms up!
Originally written for Toad&Co.