Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hiking in North Texas Part 1: Oak Point Nature Preserve

I was raised in Colorado. While I don't miss the snow, cold weather or downhill skiing, I DO miss all of the fantastic hiking. I have fabulous memories of hiking the trails at Mount Falcon Park as a kid with my family. I love the workout that comes with hiking in the mountains, and the sense of adventure that comes with turning a curve and never knowing what view you will see around the corner.

Now that my home is in North Texas, the hiking opportunities are not the same. Hiking is also not part of the state's culture like it is in Colorado. But I miss it, and I want my kids to experience hiking. And since an upcoming vacation next winter will involve some significant hiking, I want to get my family prepared so that we can enjoy the views without being so wiped out.

This part of Texas has a lot of paved walking and cycling paths, but I was somewhat unfamiliar with dirt trail hiking choices. I stumbled across this article, and we decided to try hiking at Oak Point Nature Preserve since it is the closest to our house.

Oak Point is one of Plano's newer parks on the east side of town. It has 3.5 miles of paved trails and 5 miles of soft surface trails. This park was also appealing to us because cyclists are not permitted on the soft trails, which we figured would be easier with our kids and dog.

Ready for our adventure.

We parked in the main parking lot off Los Rios Blvd. and walked on the paved path for a few feet until we saw the trail head for the Caddo Trail. Once we got on the dirt trails, we followed Rowlett Creek under tall trees that covered the trails in shade.

We saw some interesting tree root systems along the way.

And we had to climb over some large tree trunks throughout the paths. We figured these were there on purpose to deter cyclists from entering the trails.

The trails were narrow, so we had to walk single file. We ran into several benches along the way. My youngest kept saying, "We're exploring the forest! We're in the FOREST!"

We came out of the trails to the paved path at the south side of the lake. We stopped for a snack and to observe the turtles, frogs and fish.

Lots of turtles

We saw some cyclists on the paved path taking photos of something, and one came by and warned us about a copperhead snake on the path ahead.

We decided to walk back to our car on the paved path on the other side of the lake, but next time I think we would go the opposite way and explore the dirt trails on the other side of the creek. We were there a little less than 2 hours, and none of us were too wiped out. The kids say they want to return there to hike again.

We plan to try out a different hiking spot next week. Have you been hiking in North Texas? Where do you recommend?

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