Hit the Trails
Explore parks, cities by bicycle this summer
By Sydni Ellis
I learned how to ride a bike on a pink glitter bicycle with white wheels, a cute basket, and rainbow tassel handles. As a kid, I spent countless hours exploring the neighborhood streets with my matching pink helmet. Recently, I’ve been enjoying biking once again on different local trails. It’s a great way to get some fresh air, enjoy nature, and burn calories — Harvard University says bicycling at 12-13.9 mph can burn anywhere from 240-336 calories in 30 minutes depending on your starting weight. That’s some serious motivation! If you’re ready to hit the trails, check out a few of
these local Texas spots this summer.
Connect with Nature
Ride your bike up the beautiful North Shore Trail in Grapevine, which offers amazing views of Lake Grapevine’s cliffs and shores. Despite its moderately difficult trek (with a few more challenging areas), this trail is one of the most popular in North Texas! Access the trail from Rockledge Park, Murrell Park, or Twin Coves Park, then ride the entire 9.5-mile trail before cooling off in the water. RockledgePark.com.
Made up of six beginner and intermediate loops (and one tiny expert-only
loop) covering six miles, the Squabble Creek Mountain Bike Trail in Rockwall is perfect for new cyclists or those wanting an easy ride. Start at the trailhead at Lakeshore Drive, where you will go over short, steep climbs on your way to the twists of the other loops. Riders will get to enjoy plenty of breezy rolling areas and views of the nearby creek. Find the map at PlayRockwall.com.
Looking for something a little more challenging? Try the Northeast Texas Trail, a rail-trail that will go 132 miles from Farmersville to New Boston when completed. It will be the longest hike/bike/equestrian trail in Texas (and fourth largest in the U.S.) when it is fully connected —
right now, it’s split up into sections that are only connected by driving. The trail begins in Farmersville, on a 35.8-mile stretch called the Chaparral Rail Trail. This trail connects four counties: Collin, Delta, Fannin and Hunt.
Start in Farmersville, at the Audie L. Murphy Head near the Historic Onion Shed in downtown, to go on the Chaparral Rail Trail. The first 2.5 miles are totally paved, which makes it easily accessible for everyone. Walk five miles from Farmersville to Merit, 7.7 miles to Celeste, 8.7 miles to Wolfe City, 8.6 miles to Ladonia, and 5.8 miles to Pecan Gap. This easy trail is filled with natural beauty; rustic train bridges; paved walkways; crushed stone, dirt, and gravel surfaces; as well as plenty of stopping points to grab a bite to eat and recharge. You can even bring a tent and set up a campsite along the path.
For information on the rest of the trail, including detailed maps that show damaged areas, parking lots, road closures, places that need driving access, and more, visit NETexasTrail.org/trail-maps/.
State & National Parks
History buffs should try the Hike and Bike Trail in Missions National Historical Park in San Antonio. This amazing trail connects The Alamo, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada. Each stretch of trail between the five missions is only about 2.5 miles in length, making it an enjoyable way to explore history on your bike. Find the map at nps.gov/saan.
Another interesting biking adventure — one you will love sharing with your kids — is located at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose. The Paluxy River Trail is a 1.9-mile easy trail that takes you past many unique dinosaur tracks as you go over the limestone ledge of the Paluxy River. Be sure to bring your camera! If you’re there with little ones, be sure to also check out the 15-minute Monarch Trail filled with butterflies and birds, as well as the many other cool exhibits, fossil digging, and more at Dinosaur Valley. Visit tpwd.Texas.gov/State-Parks/Dinosaur-Valley/map.
Cyclists of all skill levels will find a trail they can enjoy at Tyler State Park, which offers an A, B, C, D, and EZ Loop for cyclists. The EZ Loop is just 0.7 miles that you can walk on its own or use to connect to a different trail. A and B Loops are moderate trails, which are 2.5 miles and 3.1 miles respectively. They include elevation changes and features beautiful views. Finally, the C and D Loops are both Challenging at 1.5 miles and 2.1 miles. The first offers a chance to see some of the larger pines in the park, and the latter shows different forest types that attract migratory birds. Find the map at tpwd.Texas.gov/State-Parks/Tyler.
Head to Austin to try the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, a 10-mile trail that offers picturesque views of the water at Lady Bird Lake, skyscrapers, neighborhoods, ball fields, cultural attractions, and a boardwalk. It’s no wonder it attracts more than 2.6 million visitors a year! If you don’t mind the crowds, this is definitely a beautiful area in the heart of our capital. For more info, visit AustinTexas.gov.
When completed (estimated 2025), the Campion Trail in Irving will be a 22-mile, master-planned greenbelt trail that runs along the Elm Fork and West Fork of the Trinity River. It is part of the Fort Worth to Dallas Regional Trail initiative to connect these two major cities. Right now, cyclists can go along the 8.5-mile Elm Fork section in the north and the 6.5-mile West Fork section in the south. CityofIrving.org.
For amazing views of Downtown Dallas, take your bike to the popular White Rock Creek/Lake Trail in Dallas, which is 17.1 miles in total. The Lake Trail portion is a 9.5-mile loop around the beautiful White Rock Lake, which also passes by playgrounds, a dog park, restrooms, and picnic areas. The 7.6-mile White Rock Creek Trail portion includes urban, skyline, and park views as you make your way through Dallas. Do a leisurely ride along part of the lake, or commit to finishing both — either way, it’s easy to see why this one is so beloved by residents and visitors.
If you love biking, consider supporting the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to rail-trails: multi-use public paths created from former railroad corridors. RTC is committed to protecting and creating these rail-trails, to provide everyone free, accessible, and safe places to walk, bike, and be active. According to their website, “We believe trails have the power to transform communities and create joyful, vibrant public spaces that are equitable and inclusive.” Learn more and support the cause at RailstoTrails.org.
Whether you are looking for a way to exercise, explore Texas’ natural beauty, spend time with your family, or just re-live the glory days of your childhood (minus the scraped knees), bicycling on a local trail is the way to do it. I may be on a basic black mountain bike — or guiding two toddlers on red tricycles — but my inner 7-year-old is riding a pink sparkly bike in my heart. And I’m getting to see much prettier views, too! Dust off your old bicycle, air up the tires, strap on your helmet, and get ready for a classic summertime activity. There’s a reason “it’s as easy as riding a bike” is a saying…you just have to push off the pedals and embrace pure childlike bliss once again.