Hit the trails. photo courtesy of DORBA

The Best Off-Road Bicycle Trails in Dallas

(It's North Texas, after all, so we can't exactly call it "mountain" biking.)

Did you know there are more than 200 miles of off-road biking trails in the Dallas area? Now you do! So dust off your bicycle and head outdoors to do a little riding.

In other, more mountainous areas of the country, biking on trails with rugged terrain might be referred to as mountain biking. “We call it off-road biking to take care of the mountain issue,” explains Cash Anglin, vice president of trails for Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association. But you can still get a good workout, and some elevation, on the trails Dallas has to offer. “For me, the best trails have some forest and trees and have some elevation. And, as a point of reference, I would say I’m not a beginner, but I’m not really a racer either. I like to go casually fast.”

Anglin helped create this list of the best off-road biking trails in Dallas. In our criteria, we were looking for those that would be challenging and fun for all levels of cyclists. The trails listed below fit that bill. Speaking of bills, these trails can all be used free of charge.

5. Rowlett Creek Preserve
Rowlett Creek Preserve offers a little less elevation than others on this list, but it’s still a challenging ride. With almost 15 miles in trails, the flat and twisting course is useful for building endurance and a useful training ground for a biking beginner. The trailhead is located at 2525 Castle Road in Garland, and it’s open 6 a.m. to midnight daily.

4. River Legacy Parks Mountain Bike Trail
Predominately flat and twisting throughout, this is a great trail for beginners. It offers 10 miles of cross-country riding, with some challenging areas that may be bypassed for those who aren’t quite ready. Follow the trail signs: red trails are better for more advanced riders and blue trails are meant for beginners. The park is located at 703 NW Green Oaks Blvd. in Arlington and is open to vehicular traffic from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. If you’re on foot, you can enter the park until midnight.

3. Boulder Park
This trail offers changes in elevation, with climbs that will work your legs, fields, lots of woods, and a number of twists mixed with a few fast sections to keep you on your toes. Two loops are marked for differing skill levels: one for more experienced riders and one that bypasses the harder stuff, better for all levels. This trail is also located in the southern sector of Dallas, not far from Duncanville and about 15 minutes from Joe Pool Lake. The trailhead is located at 6600 Pastor Bailey Drive, and it’s open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

2. Big Cedar Wilderness Trails
If you are looking for a mountain, Big Cedar is the closest thing Dallas has. Bikers call it “Prayer Mountain” It’s no Moab, but it is the highest elevation point in Dallas, more than 700 feet up at its highest point.  Many loops exist, each marked according to the skill level required. Located in southwest Dallas, not far from Duncanville and Cedar Hill, on land belonging to Mountain Creek Church, the trails are open to the public, but each rider must have a waiver on file with the church or trail steward. The waiver can be found here, along with the contact information for the trail steward. Big Cedar is open from “dawn to dusk,” and the trailhead is located at 5950 Eagle Ford Drive, Dallas.

1. Northshore Trail
Running along the north side of Grapevine Lake is one of the best-known and most-used trails in the Dallas area. It boasts a total length of 22.5 miles of varied terrain, making it ideal for all levels of riders. The East Loop should please intermediate riders while the West Loop is more technical in spots. There are three main trailheads: Murrell Park MADD Shelter, Twin Coves, and Rockledge Park, though you’ll have to pay an entrance fee when accessing the trail from Rockledge Park or Twin Coves Park. The trail is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.