“But about half of the city’s trail plan is still unfunded. And there is no immediate plan to ask voters to approve more bonds for the Park and Recreation Department, said Lee Kleinman, Dallas Park Board member for District 11.
That means the department is left scavenging for funding through grants and private partners, said Kleinman. He said the county, for example, has agreed to help fund the Union Pacific Trail, but that requires matching funds from the city.”
Dallas is still many miles from counting itself as hike-and-bike-friendly, but Saturday’s official opening of the Northaven Trail brings the city that much closer.
The trail, a 12-foot-wide concrete ribbon that stretches along Oncor’s power line easement just north of Royal Lane from Central Expressway to Preston Road, increases Dallas’ hike-and-bike trail system to 114 miles in all.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is slowly stitching together a network that meanders through the city, connecting disjointed neighborhoods and parks to DART rail stations and shopping centers.
The network has been extended almost 30 miles in the last seven years, funded mostly from the city’s last two bond projects, said Jared White, the department’s project coordinator.
“Trails are very important in this city. They open areas up,” said White, noting that runners and walkers could be spotted on the Northaven Trail even before its official opening.
The network’s longest stretch — 20 miles of interconnected trails — connects residents from Hillcrest Road and the Bush Turnpike in Far North Dallas to just east of Deep Ellum.
“People often say all people in Dallas do is drive,” White said. “Well, of course that’s all they did before; they didn’t have another option. We’re working on changing that.”
More than 20 major loop and linear trails are already completed, and that number is expected to grow in the next couple of years. Twelve projects are in the works to build new trails and extend and connect others. The addition of these trails would bring the mileage count to 125, approaching half of the 280 miles called for in the city master plan.
The idea is that residents could one day leave their cars at home when they go to work or shopping on foot, bicycle and mass transit.
“You can see more people riding on their way to work, but it’s been very slow here,” said Marc Mumby, president of BikeDFW.
Mumby, who bikes from his home in Lake Highlands to his job at UT Southwestern Medical Center, said he doesn’t expect that to change until the city gets off the dime on its bike plan.
The plan for more than 800 miles of street bike lanes has been endorsed by the City Council. But so far, City Hall has installed none, citing a lack of funds and the need to treat each street change as its own rezoning case.
“The trails are great for recreation, but you can’t go very fast,” said Mumby, who has been cycling in Dallas almost 30 years.
Though separate, the city’s bike and trail plans are designed to complement each other, White said.
So far, the trail network carries a $60 million price tag, for completed trails, trails in the works and others yet to come, White said.
But about half of the city’s trail plan is still unfunded. And there is no immediate plan to ask voters to approve more bonds for the Park and Recreation Department, said Lee Kleinman, Dallas Park Board member for District 11.
That means the department is left scavenging for funding through grants and private partners, said Kleinman. He said the county, for example, has agreed to help fund the Union Pacific Trail, but that requires matching funds from the city.
“It’s just people having different views of what the city’s priorities should be,” Kleinman said.
WHAT’S NEXT: Works in progress
Ridgewood Trail: Four-mile extension of the Katy Trail to the White Rock DART Station. To be finished next year.
Santa Fe Trail: 1.5-mile extension of the trail into Deep Ellum and Fair Park. To be completed early next year.
Trinity Strand Trail: Two-mile trail through the Design District to go out for bids soon. Construction to start later this year and be completed in mid- to late 2013.
Kiestwood Trail: 1.5-mile trial to connect Kiest Park to the Kiestwood neighborhood. To be completed later this year.
Lake Highlands Trail: One-mile trail north of Lake Highlands High School. To be completed in mid-2013.
White Rock Creek Trail: Portion of the trail is being rebuilt and widened while the Texas Department of Transportation elevates part of Northwest Highway east of West Lawther Drive. Once completed this summer, the trail will go under the bridge. Also, a three-quarter-mile extension of the trail from Valley View Park to Hillcrest Park is in the works, to be finished in 2013. About a half mile of the trail is also being rebuilt and widened from Forest Lane to Greenville Avenue and should be completed next year.
Trinity Forest Trail: Four-mile extension from the Trinity River Audubon Center through the Forest to Loop 12. To be completed later this year.
Five-Mile Creek Trail: One-mile trail will wind from Glendale Park to Arden Terrace Park. It should go out to bid soon and be completed next year.
Santa Fe Trestle Trail: One-mile trail reuses a 100-year-old train trestle bridge near Riverfront Boulevard and connects to Moore Park. To be completed later this year.
SOURCE: City of Dallas
GO & DO: Where to go for a roll or a stroll
With the opening of the new Northaven Trail, Dallas now boasts 114 miles of hike-and-bike trails. Many are small neighborhood loops or linear trails. For trail maps and more information, see the links below. Here’s a look a some of the longer trails:
1. Northaven Trail: The newest trail is 2.1 miles of concrete path, 12 feet wide. It connects several public and private schools, churches and a YMCA. It runs roughly from Central Expressway to Preston Road, although plans call for expansion. northaventrail.org
2. Turtle Creek Trail: 2.1 miles of concrete trail (8 feet wide) along Turtle Creek Boulevard in the Oaklawn area. Access point at Turtle Creek and Maple Avenue. dallasparks.org/Downloads/Trails/turtlecreek.pdf
3. Kiest Park Trail: An asphalt loop trail with several twists through the 176-acre southern Dallas park. At 3012 South Hampton. dallascityhall.com/pdf/park_and_rec/Kiest.pdf
4. Cottonwood Trial: The linear concrete trail, 2.9 miles long, will eventually connect North Dallas to White Rock Lake, the Arboretum and other points south to Fair Park. Now, it connects Spring Valley to the White Rock Creek Trail. cottonwoodtrail.org
5. Katy Trail: The popular 3.5-mile concrete trail through the city’s northern core runs from Lyte Street to Airline Drive. katytraildallas.org
6. Bachman Trail: The asphalt loop is 3.5 miles long around the lake. Address: 3500 Northwest Highway.dallascityhall.com/pdf/park_and_rec/Bachman.pdf
7. Santa Fe Trail: A 4.1-mile concrete linear trail from White Rock Lake toward Deep Ellum and Fair Park.friendsofsantafetrail.org
8. Boulder Park Trails: This 5.2-mile trail is listed as a nature trail, but watch out for mountain bikers. Trail winds through 106 wooded acres. There’s no parking, but you can access the trail at 3200 Red Bird Lane.dallascityhall.com/pdf/park_and_rec/BoulderPark.pdf
9. Preston Ridge Trail: Concrete, linear trail, 5.3 miles long, in the heart of Far North Dallas, largely along Meandering Way. It starts near the intersection of Spring Valley and Coit roads and ends close to the Collin County Line. A future phase goes into Collin County, ending at Frankford Road and the Bush Turnpike. Walkers, bikers and skaters are all welcome. prestonridgetrail.org/
10. Trinity Levee Trail: A 6-mile linear trail made of crushed stone. It runs along the levee top from Mockingbird Lane to Sylvan Avenue. dallastrinitytrails.blogspot.com
11. L.B. Houston Nature Area Trails: 6.6 miles of nature trails within the L.B. Houston Greenbelt and the Elm Fork Greenbelt in Northwest Dallas, near the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. There are two sections of trails, one adjacent to California Crossing Road, and the other east of Wildwood Road. The California Crossing section is maintained by the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association. Parking is available at both locations. dallasparks.org/Downloads/Trails/lbhouston.pdf
12. White Rock Creek Trail: A 7.7-mile concrete path that connects North Dallas to the tip of White Rock Lake. Access it from Valley View Park, off Hillcrest Road just north of Interstate 635. On the south side, park at Greenville Avenue and Royal Lane, or off Merriman Road near Abrams. whiterocktrail.org
13. White Rock Lake: One of the most popular routes in the city, a 9.5-mile loop around Dallas’ historic lake. whiterockdallas.org