Crystal Canyon Natural Area, Arlington

Yes, there is a canyon in Arlington!  Set on 40 acres, the CCNA has a .8 mile soft surface trail for walking, hiking, appreciating nature and looking for treasure, both that from nature and a legendary one!

I hope I’ve intrigued you, and you’ll visit and find out for yourself why it’s called Crystal Canyon.  Check out my Mommy Tips for making the most of your visit.

Crystal Canyon Natural Area Arlington Texas

Know Before You Go

Bring water.

As a Natural Area, there are no picnic tables or playgrounds.

The canyon makes itself obvious before you get to it.  Turning East on Brown Blvd. from Collins, the road goes D-O-W-N!  If like me, you are concentrating on the road, you’ll drive right past the entrance, so take it slow and keep an eye out!  The entrance is on the south (right) side of the road, if you are heading East (towards Hwy 360).  Welcome to the Canyon!



Nice bridges make for easy crossing of the streams that dug out Crystal Canyon.


The Trail

The .8 mile soft surface trail is friendly for most strollers, especially those with larger wheels.

While the canyon is said to have an elevation change of over 100′, the CCNC is in the bottom of the canyon, and offers mostly flat terrain.



Leashed dogs are permitted on the trail.  Bring yours and then you won’t have a sad little boy when he realizes his best friend could have come with him.


Formation of the Canyon

Just as the Grand Canyon was created by the mighty Colorado River cutting through the earth, Crystal Canyon was also created by water, but on a much smaller scale. One of the educational kiosk along the trails explains that Crystal Canyon has 3 small tributaries of the Trinity River, called seasonal streams, which water only flows in during the wet times of the year.



On the pretense of picking up a carelessly discarded soda bottle from another visitor, I let my boys wander down to the stream bed to get a closer look at the rock layers of the CCNC.


The Crystals

Selenite is a gypsum crystal for which the canyon gets its name.

This is where I confess to being a bad mother.  My seven-year-old was thrilled to search for crystals during our walk, and since I had already explained that we weren’t allowed to pick up or take any of the crystals from the CCNC, I was more than happy to let him believe the occasional sparkling bits of broken glass we spotted off the trail were in fact crystals!


The Treasure

I found this story of treasure in, of all places, a ghost story.  In Mitchell Whittington’s book, Ghost of North Texas, he tells the story of a raid on Mexican wagons and gold seized and then buried, but never found! The author makes no claims that the story is true, however it was still fun to read to the kids of the treasure, and keep an open eye as we walked around!

Click HERE to read Whittington’s story of the legendary gold of Crystal Canyon.  Like all good ghost stories, his book is full of history on the areas he claims to be haunted, and a good read even if it’s not October!

Are you surprised to hear that there was once a fort in Arlington? The location seems to be on private property, although there are 2 historical markers in the vicinity.  While it appears nothing remains of the fort, the City of Irving has a 58 acre park named Bird’s Fort Trail Park, named for the trail from Fort Bird to Grape Vine Spring, which the President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston traveled to negotiate the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with 10 Native American nations.


More Things to do in Arlington  

River Legacy Living Science Center is open 7 days a week, and has a terrific interpretive center with live animals.  Click HERE to read more about it. River Legacy Park offers walking and mountain bike trails, a paddling trail along the Trinity River, playground with grills and much more!  Click HERE to read more!  The park offers many annual activities, including Tents & Tales campout, click HERE for more information.

Southwest Nature Preserve offers more a more strenuous 1 mile loop with steep terrain, plus 3 fishing ponds and picnic tables. Click HERE to read more.

Crystal Canyon Natural Area

1000 Brown Blvd. Arlington

Click HERE to visit the Crystal Canyon Natural Area’s webpage. 

Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!


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