Hiking Opportunities Just 30 Minutes Away

As the pandemic rages on, my husband and I have cancelled many of our travel plans in favor of road and day trips, especially those which allow us to social distance. Two of our day trips were to destinations only 30 minutes up Hwy 67 – Cedar Hill State Park and Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve. These two areas, although separated only by FM 1382, are very different.

Preserves and parks are different by their very definition. The main purpose of a preserve is to protect plants and wildlife. Parks, while also protecting native plants and animals, also provide outdoor recreation for the public, but, no matter, the name, we enjoyed seeing the various plants and experiencing nature at each.

Both areas have good, well-marked trails with plenty of hiking opportunities. (The only negative about the Cedar Hill State Park trails is that some were so worn by bikes that it was difficult to walk.) I have discovered alltrails.com that provides trail information nationwide. The ratings—easy, moderate, and challenging—have proven to be reliable and help us evaluate trails wherever we go. Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve has more elevation changes and moderate trails than those of Cedar Hill State Park, almost all of which are rated as easy. Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve overlooks are equipped with benches for hikers to catch their breath or even enjoy a picnic while viewing the Hill Country-like setting. Many of Cedar Hill State Park’s trails wind around Joe Pool lake which offers beaches and picnic areas for fun-filled days.

Cedar Hill State Park also provides boating, swimming, and fishing opportunities, although the weather was too cold for us to consider taking advantage of these opportunities. Cedar Hill State Park has overnight camping and RV facilities for those who want to get away from home for a night. Both areas offer educational opportunities, although most of these are unavailable at this time due to Covid-19.

Cedar Hill State Park allows camping and is open daily while Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve is only open Tuesday through Sunday to give the land a chance to recuperate from the many visitors. Camping is not available at the Preserve which is operated by Audubon Dallas. Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve also closes after rain to prevent damage to the trails. Cedar Hill, being a state park, charges admission while Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve simply asks for a donation. (The Texas State Parks pass is worth the investment if you plan to visit many state parks.) We found the trails at Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve to be much busier than those of Cedar Hill, a negative when trying to social distance.

After these day trips my recommendation is strong. Pack a picnic, pull on your hiking shoes, and get outside. Numerous opportunities are only minutes away.

Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoys reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers. 


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