Cedar Hill State Park
They don’t call the Texas Water Safari “the world’s toughest canoe race” for nothing! The annual event draws about 150 die-hard paddlers who test their mettle in a 260-mile canoe race from San Marcos to Seadrift. It’s a grueling trip, one which few women attempt. We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador Debbie Richardson is one of the few, and this year’s race will mark the 12th consecutive time she’s competed. We caught up with her and first-time Texas Water Safari competitor Pam LeBlanc for a conversation about what it takes to train for such an endeavor.
Download or listen to this and previous broadcasts on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) web page.
We Will Not Be Tamed
Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is raising awareness and encouraging all Texans to get involved in conserving the wild things and wild places of our state. "We Will Not Be Tamed" calls you to appreciate the wildness of Texas, the vastness of our Texas spirit and why we should be inspired to conserve it.
Learn about the incredible Texas outdoorsmen and women who are standing with us to tell their stories at WeWillNotBeTamed.org.
2019 JANUARY 12 - The Pavilion, some camping areas, and the J-Loop day-use area (near Penn Farm) are closed due to prior flood damage. Trail accessibility depends on weather and trail repairs. The marina is permanently closed and bait cannot be purchased at the park.
Argentine ants, an invasive species, are in some campsites at this park. The ants do not sting. TPWD is working with experts to reduce the ants without harming natural resources. Before leaving, thoroughly inspect your vehicle, RV, camping gear, and other equipment. If you see the ants, please notify park staff immediately to receive guidance for treatment.
Contact the park for the latest information.
Take a walk on the wild side
Located on beautiful Joe Pool Lake, Cedar Hill State Park is one of the most visited parks in Texas consisting of 1,826 acres of rugged, natural beauty reminiscent of the Texas hill country. If not for spectacular views of the Dallas and Fort Worth skylines, visitors can easily forget they are in the largest urban park in the state and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the nation.
Penn Farm Agricultural History Center pays tribute to the disappearing Texas family farm and affords a glimpse into agrarian history when farm machinery took the place of the horse and mule. The farm is open seven days a week to self-guided tours (PDF). Special, guided tours are available for schools and other groups by calling 972-291-5940.
The 7,500 acre Joe Pool Lake is the main attraction for most park visitors with boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, boat ramps and a marina. But it's not all about the lake. The surrounding area's superb natural beauty and proximity to other attractions draw visitors from all over the country.
In addition to the marina and boat ramps, the park features numerous fishing piers, over 350 mostly wooded campsites, lakeside picnic sites, hike and bike trails, a swimming area and a 25-acre agricultural history center.
White crappie, largemouth bass and catfish are the main sport fish around Joe Pool Lake, but sunfish are also present and very catchable. The marina has an enclosed, pay-to-fish barge that sits on pilings over the water. It's a relaxing place to spend time with your line in the water.
Trails of Cedar Hill State Park
There are four trails in Cedar Hill State Park. The largest trail, 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. You are also allowed to have your dog out on the trails, provided they are kept on a leash.
Dorba Trail was created primarily through the efforts of the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association, 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.
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.
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.
Duck Pond Trail
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.
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.