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Health & Fitness

The 7 Best Dallas Running Trails

Running pro David Hanenburg likes to take the scenic route. Here, he shares his favorite running trails and tips to get us up to speed in no time.
Photo via Flickr user Roman Boed

Instead of pounding the pavement day after day, give trail running a go. Not only can you log valuable minutes of cardio, but you’ll also incorporate strength training into your workout.  “Every trail has its own character and something special about it,” says running guru David Hanenburg. “You’re always going to be using different muscles because the terrain is varied.”

Here, the expert trail runner and founder of EnduranceBuzz.com shares his seven favorite Dallas trails, which take us into the woods, through picturesque parks, lakeside at last.

1. Cedar Ridge Preserve
The Cedar Hill area is a goldmine for trail runners of all levels. The natural habitat at the Cedar Ridge Preserve offers close to nine miles of trails on 600 acres rich with wildflowers, butterfly gardens, and wildlife. Runners rejoice! The trail is off-limits to bikers, so those on foot can experience the path without the buzz of faster traffic.

2. Cedar Hill State Park: DORBA Trail
Located only miles from Cedar Ridge Preserve, this Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association (DORBA) trail is great for hikers and bikers alike. The trail is comprised of three loops—a short loop (3 miles), a mid loop (8 miles) and a long loop (12 miles)—and is designated as an intermediate course with tight, twisting trails shaded by leafy trees overhead.

3. Big Cedar Wilderness
The Big Cedar Wilderness Trail is the most challenging in the area. The paths begin on the property of the Mountain Creek Church and wind through 13 miles of terrain packed with steep climbs, quick drops, and even one tunnel.

4. Lake Lavon Trinity Trail
Equestrians and runners alike enjoy the scenic stretch that traces southwest portion of Lake Lavon. The nine-mile trail is wide and relatively flat (though some sections do occasionally have overgrowth). Grab a wildlife checklist and keep an eye out for everything from ferruginous hawks to brown creepers. 

5. Rowlett Creek Preserve
Amidst the 97 acres of woods and meadows lie 16-plus miles of looped trails of varying distances and terrains. This DORBA trail system offers flat, open paths for new runners, but also has dense, tight courses for advanced trailblazers. 

6. Sansom Park
Though the Sansom Park Trail is a modest 2.2-mile loop, it’s a technical course—runner lingo for rocky, root-filled and steep. Located in Fort Worth, the path will pass by breathtaking views and a roaring waterfall. Plus, the park is dog friendly, so your pup is welcome to come along for the run.

7. North Shore Trail
Located on the north side of Lake Grapevine, this popular nine-mile trail runs between Rockledge and Twin Coves parks. The terrain is moderately difficult morphing from wooded areas to rolling terrain. You can easily access the trail from several locations, and along the way, you’ll find an Instagram-worthy views from the lake’s many shores and cliffs.  

If you’re willing to stray from the Dallas area, Hanenburg also recommends Dinosaur Valley State Park, Possum Kingdom Lake Hike and Bike Trails, Tyler State Park, and Isle du Bois State Park

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