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Exploring Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, Plano Texas

With 200 acres of open park space, it is perfect for hiking, running, biking, or even just sitting and getting some peace and quiet. AND IT’S PET FRIENDLY!!!

Finding a spot to hike in North Texas can be a little difficult. Part of my family recently moved from Southern California to McKinney County (just North of Dallas) and much of the area lacks good online content pointing people in the direction of local parks and nature preserves.

One post isn’t much, but hopefully, I can help make things easier for all of us.

The park is framed around 3 miles of looping paved trails. These sections are beautiful and perfect for walking with the family or taking a nice meditative stroll, and if you’re looking to get a work out those same stroller-friendly conditions make it perfect for running.

Extending from the central frame of the paved trails there are 4.7 miles of long natural surface trails all around the park and a small web of 14 short naturally surfaced trails weaving in the space between the paved trails and the creek.

When hiking or running your way around the park the Observation Tower is a great stopping point. It’s easily accessed and offers panoramic views of the park and surrounding neighborhoods.

Moreover, the park has 2.7 miles of designated off-road bicycle trails! This is for dirt biking and dirt biking only. You can take your bike for a nice ride on the paved roads, but this is for a whole different kind of biking! If you haven’t already tried dirt biking I highly recommend it.

Be aware: naturally surfaced trails will be closed during periods of wet weather. This is done to prevent erosion and maintain the overall quality of the trails and the park itself. Depending on the weather the closure might last a couple of days after raining stops, giving the trails time to dry.

To spice things up from your typical hike checkout the Interpretive Trail Map. Arbor Hills has an interactive trail marker system throughout the preserve to help people identify all sorts of cool details about the park.

25 points of interest are placed throughout the park and the PDF comes with plenty of information for each of these points! This can be fun especially for children and give them a reason to run around the park almost like a scavenger hike, but it really is for all ages.

As you can see on the interactive map, the park is home to 3 distinct eco-regions.

The biggest eco-region in the park is the Blackland Prairie. These are vast expanses of grasses and wildflowers with a few trees. Much of the area around here would have originally been Blackland Prairie until being disturbed by farming, ranching, and city construction.

blackland prairie

Next, you will find what is referred to as a riparian forest. Apparently coming from the Latin word for river, you will find this eco-region along the multi-armed creek running through the park. This eco-region is home to a variety of different trees, vines, birds, fish, and reptiles.

riparian forest riparian forest riparian forest

Lastly, a little higher up in the park, you’ll find yourself in the upland forest. Trees like cedar elm will provide great shade in this region and small flowering trees like redbud and Eve’s Necklace will bloom beautifully in the spring.

(Unfortunately, my phone died before I made my way over to this region of the park. I don’t have any pictures, but take my word, it is beautiful!)

In addition, this is a park well developed with drinking fountains, reservable and non-reservable pavilion and picnic areas, a public restroom, a playground, and two locations for parking.

If you would like to reserve the pavilions for something like a birthday party call 972-941-7275 from 8 am to 5 pm, Mon-Fri to check availability and make a reservation.

Reservations are available for one of two 6 hour time slots – 8 am to 2 pm and 3 pm to 9 pm. The fee per 6 hour time slot is $100 for residents and $200 for non-residents and is non-refundable. In addition, a refundable reservation deposit of $75 will be required at the time of booking.

Map of points in relation to reservable pavilion

Above all else, make sure to be a good steward during your stay at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. This park is a special place amongst the suburban area for people to enjoy the mostly undisturbed naturally occurring eco-regions

Do your part to keep this place healthy by disposing of litter and pet waste properly, not disturbing the plants or animals, and staying on the clearly marked trails.

If you live in the area and want to volunteer for things like community clean-ups click here for more information. Your help would be greatly appreciated

While I was at the park me my little siblings and I had a plastic bag for litter we found on the ground, and it worked well. It doesn’t take too much and all of our individual actions put together really make a huge difference. Change happens one piece of trash at a time.

(For additional information on the park visit their page on the Plano city website.)

Thank you again for reading. I hope that you enjoyed it and I hope that this information helps connect you with nature!

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(This post was originally published on camandtheoutdoors.com).

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Cameron Catanzano

Blogger and avid lover of the outdoors!