Oak Cliff Nature Preserve, Dallas

The thing about winter hiking in Texas is you never can know exactly how to dress.  We visited Oak Cliff Nature Preserve in Dallas today, and we started the morning off with coats, scarves and mittens and ended our hike stripped down to our shorts and short sleeve shirts.

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The Oak Cliff Nature Preserve is an urban nature area, meaning that these 125 acres smack in the middle of the city have been protected from development.  There are approximately 8 miles of multi-use trails, for hiking, mountain biking, running, or just enjoying nature.

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I’m not sure if it’s always so popular, but on our visit the parking lot was filled, and there were cars parked along the street.  We were lucky to catch an open space just as someone was leaving.

Yes, my six year old is howling from a rock placed at the trailhead.

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Don’t you love how wooded it is?  I was surprised by how narrow some of the trails are, but in a very good way.  I appreciate that they haven’t cut much back, maintaining much of its natural appearance.  That’s thanks to the owners, the Texas Land Conservancy.

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Throughout the season’s barren trees and bleak undergrowth, the red berries of the invasive nandina just pop with color, a welcome treat on a winter hike.

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When hiking or running on a multi-use trail, it’s important to remember to keep an open eye out for bikes, but my little guy jumped when he saw this incredible black spider.  There was nothing references who made it or why it was there, but we got a great laugh!

The bike trails are maintained by Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association. They offer current trail updates on their website.

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The gnarled branches of some of the older trees show some fire damage, adding to feeling of being miles and miles away from the city.  There are six loops on the trails, and no maps, so it’s easy to get turned around.  You might pack a compass or GPS, and get your bearings before setting out.

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Two small creeks run through the preserve, and the trails cut across several times.  Some crossings have bridges and some do not.

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We were warned of several wild dogs on the property, some of which have shown aggressive behavior.  We didn’t see any, although we heard barking. Although I’m usually brave about these things, this was one of the reasons I planned this hike when my husband would be joining us.  The TLC and DORBA are working to remove the dogs, and any potential criminal activity at the preserve.  Because there were SO many people using the trails, I never felt uncomfortable during our hike.  For safety, remember to never hike or bike alone (the more the merrier applies here) and I would suggest visiting in the morning or midday instead of the evening.

The DORBA website says that this section of the trail is wall to wall wildflowers in the Spring.  I looked around, and there are plenty of growing plants, promising a lovely landscape in a few months!

** Reminder ** Check the DORBA website, TLC or facebook page  for trail updates.

Click HERE for more information on other Texas Land Conservancy properties across the state.

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As usual, we were starving after our hike, and headed to the nearby Bishop Arts District to grab a bite to eat.  We chose 303 Grill, and were not disappointed!  I love buildings with a past, and this was an old residence on West Davis.

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I’m drawn to a fire like a moth, and love the unusual mantle in this eclectic restaurant, as well as the open patio and Sinatra coming off the speakers.   We ordered off the Weekend Brunch menu, which offered frittatas, burgers, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits and tempting pulled pork waffles.  My husband ordered the chicken fried steak, which was served with 2 fried eggs on top, and I had a burger.  The kids ate off the children’s menu at $4 w/ a drink.  After our meal, we were thrilled with little carrot cake muffins that they passed around to all the guest, a whim of the chef.

We are anxiously awaiting the opening of a sister restaurant across the street, by the same owner, with a seafood menu.  It’s located in an old, remodeled gas station, with bay doors that open to the street.

After our meal, we headed to Penguin Days at the nearby Dallas Zoo!

Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!!

Michelle  

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