Trails of Cedar Hill State Park
There are four trails in Cedar Hill State Park. The largest trail, Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association (DORBA), is a shared-use mountain biking and hiking trail. The remaining trails, Overlook, Duck Pond, and Talala, are only for hiking. The trails are closed when wet to prevent erosion on the pathways. Fortunately, you can check on the status of the trails before you visit the park by calling 972-291-3900 or by visiting the Cedar Hill State Park Facebook page. You are also allowed to have your dog out on the trails, provided they are kept on a leash.
Take a look at the Trails Map (PDF) to print and bring along!
DORBA Trail was created primarily through the efforts of the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association (DORBA), hence the trail name. They worked closely with Cedar Hill State Park management to help design and build the trail. Their efforts returned a big dividend for off-road bicyclists as the trail is now considered one of the top mountain bike trails in the state.
DORBA Trail has three loops: Short (2.5 miles), Middle (7 miles) and Outer (10 plus miles). The paths pass through wooded areas but are fairly open for much of their length. Having the sun beating down on you can make a warm summer hike considerably warmer so be sure to plan ahead and bring an adequate supply of water.
The trail is what you might expect from a design made for mountain biking. There are plenty of twists, turns, and ups and downs. None of this is too strenuous, but if you are looking for an easy, short hike, you will be better off using one of the other three trails.
The most important rule on the DORBA Trail is that bikers travel in a clockwise direction and hikers travel counter-clockwise. When hiking, make sure you are attentive to watching and listening for approaching bicyclists. Their faster rate of travel and the fact a biker cannot 'hear' a walker makes it difficult for a rider to know there is a hiker ahead.
On the other hand, if you are walking it is relatively easy for you to hear approaching riders. When you hear a bicyclist, quickly find a place to stand off the trail and allow the biker(s) to pass.
Watch the YouTube video that was taken along the DORBA Trail to see how it looks.
The half-mile Duck Pond Trail is the shortest hiking trail in Cedar Hill State Park. This loop passes through small open fields, forest habitat, and along the edge of Duck Pond. There are also a few bridges along the way as the winding path crosses over a small creek.
The trail itself is rather wide throughout its course and the bridges prevent having to traverse any rough terrain. If you are just looking to stretch your legs without having to go on a rigorous trek, this is definitely the trail for you.
Overlook Trail is found at the north end of Cedar Hill State Park and is accessed from the Shady Ridge camping area. There is a small creek crossing the trail at its very beginning, but soon it begins to gain elevation and head up toward the overlook.
A Sweeping View
Nothing spectacular is found along this trail, but it is an easy trek through some nice woodland areas. The real attraction of this trail, besides the workout you get walking up the hill, is the sweeping view of Joe Pool Lake from the overlook.
For those folks that are not able to enter the trail from within the State Park, you can also access the overlook parking lot from FM 1382, north of the park entrance.
The Talala Trail winds through open fields, wooded areas and by, and through, a few small gullies. While you never get a view of the lake itself, the easternmost leg of the trail does pass close to the shore of Joe Pool Lake. The length of the trail and the ups and downs make it a bit more challenging than the Overlook and Duck Pond trails, but it is not difficult for anyone who considers themselves a hiker.
The trail is blazed, but there are also a few places where the trail's location can be a little confusing. The herbaceous vegetation grows dense and tall in low lying areas and this can obscure the path for short stretches. Since this trail passes through a range of habitats, it provides the best opportunity in Cedar Hill State Park for viewing the greatest diversity of birds in a relatively short amount of time.