Go Outside

What Kind of Naturalist Are You?


The Naturalist-In-Training

Fascinated with all things outdoors? How could you possibly choose?

You don’t need to pick a topic to be a student of nature. What will it be today? A walk through the woods, a painted prairie in full bloom, a bird’s flight through binoculars, or a fossil from an ancient ocean? With so much to discover, there’s no time to waste. Nature calls!

The Outdoor Adventurer

Bring on the unpaved trails, rushing water, and rocky slopes!

Obstacles are a welcome challenge for the Outdoor Adventurer. An adrenaline seeker, you love all things active that test your skills. Mountain bikes, hiking boots, kayaks, and more, outdoor adventure is the best kind of fun.

The Birder

From cranes to songbirds and everything else in between, the Birder has eyes fixed on the sky.

When bird calls get stuck in your head instead of the latest hit single and you can read flight patterns better than social cues, you might just fit htis character.

The Botanist

Fascinated with all things plants? Why look up when you can look down?

There is so much to discover when the grasses, the trees, and the flowers all have a story to tell. From the prairies to the woods and beyond, the botanical world is full of wonder and complexity just waiting for you to take notice.

The Entomologist

Iridiscent beetles, flittering fritillaries, a flash of dragonfly wings–for the Entomologist, excitement comes from your next big little discovery!

When bug nets and headlamps become your favorite fashion accessories and your Friday night lights involve a white sheet and moths, this whole kingdom of life in miniature may be your calling.

The Forester

Called to the woods, the Forester is in awe of the gentle giants of the plant world.

A welcome environment for all, trees provide shade and shelter for many kinds of life. Find something new around every bend each time you walk down a winding wooded trail.

The Geologist

The history of the distant past is written in the land.

Landscapes, rocks, and fossils tell a vivid story of ancient oceans, lands, and life. Uncover your Geologist and hold in your hands a moment in the deep time of natural history.

The Wetlander

Are your daydreams filled with the warm feeling of sunlight on your skin, birds chattering overhead, and sparkling water?

Caught in the currents and swept along like the shimmering fish and underwater plants, you simply can’t resist. For this character, a rushing river, the salty coastline, or a sunrise over the wetland never fail to amaze.

The Wildlife Biologist

Channeling your inner “Crocodile Hunter,” reptiles, birds, and critters have never intimidated you.

Through the woods, under the logs, into the water, discovery awaits! When animals are easier to understand than people, and you follow more muddy tracks than Instagram pages, you might just be a Wildlife Biologist.



22 Dallas-Area Parks for the Naturalist in You

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve 200 acres of Blackland Prairie. Upland riparian forest ecoregions with creeks. Nine miles of paved, dirt, and DORBA trails, some with interpretive signage. Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Site. Partner in American Kestrel Partnership. Monarch migration stopover. Parking lot biofilter for rain runoff.
Boulder Park 100+ acres of upland forest on limestone hills. Highly rated for off-road biking—features one of the most difficult DORBA trails in DFW. Blue Trail—6 mile beginner, more family friendly, bypasses difficult terrain. Red Trail—12-mile intermediate/advanced, hills, rocky descents, creek crossings.
Breckenridge Park 400+ acres. East of Rowlett Creek: Home to Texas champion Box Elder. Deep woods on south end. West of Rowlett Creek: Limestone outcroppings and plentiful fossils in Beck’s Branch. A wildflower meadow with loop trail supports a vigorous Eastern Bluebird population.
Cedar Hill State Park 1200+ acres of rugged limestone hills with pockets of Blackland Prairie along 7,500-acre Joe Pool Lake. Off-road biking/hiking loop maintained by DORBA, with some interpretive signage. Home to over 200 bird species, including the endangered Black-Capped Vireo. Overnight camping, swimming, fishing.
Cedar Ridge Preserve Nearly 10 miles of well-maintained, rugged trails explore 600+ acres of steep limestone hills and soaring 755-feet escarpments with epic views. Lush valleys, riparian corridors, and ponds. Blackland prairie restorations. Butterfly garden. Site of native Texas orchids. Great spot for birders.
Coppell Nature Park & Biodiversity Education Center A few miles of gentle trails through 66 acres of Eastern Cross Timbers, Blackland Prairie, and riparian Cottonwood Creek corridor. Natural springs that flow north (a rarity) are found along the creek. Butterfly garden. Center offers naturalist training for children and guided nature walks.
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center Three hiking trails of varying difficulty trace the canyon floor up to the hill tops—one trail with a view all the way to Arlington! Dogwood grove flowers in spring. Superb bird watching. Rich in native plant species and pollinators. Excellent visitor center with talks and events for all ages.
Elm Fork Nature Preserve Quiet, deeply wooded preserve along Trinity’s Elm Fork with 14-acre pond, wetlands, and wildflower meadows. Loop walking path through the woods and along the pond.
John Bunker Sands Wetland Center Wetlands purify wastewater and provide habitat for waterfowl and wildlife. Home to nesting pair of bald eagles. Sightings of over 260 varieties of birds. Fantastic views of the wetlands from the one-mile boardwalk and a trail to the Trinity River. Water education center. Monthly public days.
Joppa Preserve Nearly 315-acre park with wetlands and Lemmon Lake, plentiful migrating waterfowl, year-round shorebirds. Paved lakeshore trail part of extensive Great Trinity Forest system that leads to Trinity River Audubon Center.
Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) 1100+ acres where Blackland Prairies and Eastern Cross Timbers meet. Bobcats, wild turkeys, river otter, beaver, wide variety of reptiles/amphibians. Wading and woodland birds and the iconic dickcissel in its prairie habitat. Two blinds for wetland wildlife viewing. 10+ miles of trails, including boardwalks and paddling trails. Pollinators, damselflies, dragonflies, and beetles galore! Guided walks/workshops.
Mountain Creek Preserve 60+ acres of wooded riparian habitat on Elm Fork of Trinity. Great views of river, birds, and wildlife. Four-mile loop trail connects to Campion system. Canoe launch. Equestrian area.
Oak Cliff Nature Preserve 121 acres of upland forest, steep limestone ravines, and Blackland Prairie with eight miles of DORBA trails. Abundant wildflowers in spring.
Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve 800-acre park along Rowlett Creek with 13 miles of concrete and soft surface trails through Blackland Prairie, woods, wetlands. Zip line. Equestrian area.
Rowlett Creek Preserve Nearly 100 acres of riparian hardwood forest along channelized creek. Four miles of flat naturalist trails with bird blinds. 15+ miles of DORBA trails. Wildlife tracks in bottomland mud. Pollinator garden.
Spring Creek Forest Preserve (Garland) About 200 acres of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest with some of the oldest (up to 150 years), tallest (100+ feet tall), and widest (trunks 4 feet wide) trees in the county. Paved/soft-surface trails.
Spring Creek Nature Preserve (Richardson) Over 100 deeply wooded acres along limestone creek. Several miles of paved trails with picnic areas. Trail links to Galatyn Woodland Preserve.
Trinity River Audubon Center 130 acres reclaimed from an illegal dump. Four miles of hiking trails and boardwalks with bird blinds through wetlands, riparian forest, and Blackland Prairie. Bottomland trail with river access. Pollinator garden. Excellent visitor center. Classes and events for all ages. Perfect place for new naturalists!
Trinity Skyline Trail Paved 5-mile trail atop levees along channelized section of Trinity River with views of downtown Dallas. Dirt trails in river bottom. Waterfowl, birds of prey, and wading birds when river is up. Ronald Kirk Bridge for bicyclists/pedestrians. Connects to extensive trails going south and north.
Twelve Hills Nature Center Wonderful getaway in heart of Oak Cliff. Gentle 5+ acres on former apartment site. Trails through woods and Blackland Prairie recreation. Pollinator garden. Outdoor classroom for elementary students.
White Rock Lake Beloved 1254-acre lake with 10 miles of paved trails. Great birdwatching at northern end, Sunset Bay, and below spillway. Brown pelicans and other waterfowl migrators overwinter. Look for twiggy nests of monk parakeet colony at electrical substation and nearby towers off White Rock Rd. Naturalist museum at Bath House Cultural Center. 250+ acres of Blackland Prairie. Sailboating, canoeing, kayaking.



22 Dallas-Area Parks for the Naturalist In You

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Grand park with many features and activities, balancing naturalist and recreational. Interpretive trail guide available online. Observation tower offers a spectacular view of landscape. Pavilion for rent.
Boulder Park Best known for complex off-road biking trails.
Breckenridge Park Open areas and deep woods. Pavilion, sports fields, playgrounds, and more.
Cedar Hill State Park Quiet and wooded trails along Beck’s Branch. Wildflower meadow.
Cedar Ridge Preserve Family fun at Joe Pool Lake with hiking, swimming, developed and primitive campsites, fishing piers, boat ramps. Tour historic Penn Farm Agricultural Center.
Coppell Nature Park & Biodiversity Education Center Sprawling preserve with a variety of terrain types from escarpments to wetlands, laced by miles of trails in a range of difficulties, some with immense views. Terrific nature immersion.
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center Gentle nature oasis tucked between warehouse district and sports-oriented Wagon Wheel Park complex. Biodiversity Education Center provides hands-on environmental education to schools and the community.
Elm Fork Nature Preserve Wonderful place to learn about nature and watch birds from inside the center or outside in the preserve. Easy to moderate trails, some with naturalist signage. Dogs welcome on Saturdays.
John Bunker Sands Wetland Center Naturalist nirvana with immense bottomland trees and access to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.
Joppa Preserve Bring your binoculars to sprawling wetlands with boardwalks that get you close to wildlife on monthly open-house days. Great educational trails and visitor center in this unusual habitat.
Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) Fishing/waterbird wonderland on western edge of Great Trinity Forest. Named for historic Freedman community. Fun pop-culture trivia—Texas Ranger scene in Bonnie & Clyde filmed on footbridge over creek separating Little Lemmon and Lemmon Lakes.
Mountain Creek Preserve Largest nature preserve in Dallas area features wide range of habitats. Easy to hike deep and forget the city here. Self-guided canoeing/kayaking and guided kayak tours (see LLELA website). Nine campsites for primitive camping. Charming 1870s homestead log cabin in the woods.
Oak Cliff Nature Preserve Park with bottomland forest and trails on the Trinity River. Watch a cricket match! Site of pioneer river crossing.
Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve A wild wooded urban oasis on rocky hills. Plentiful complex trails make it easy to get wonderfully lost.
Rowlett Creek Preserve Large park with features to please naturalist and sports enthusiast alike. Lake provides pastoral spot for fishing. Great views of Rowlett Creek.
Spring Creek Forest Preserve (Garland) Deep bottomland hardwood forest with trails is cool, even in summer.
Spring Creek Nature Preserve (Richardson) Download interpretive guide for trail through riparian woods and Blackland Prairie on preserve’s west side. Paved trails on east side enable everyone to experience the creek and forest. Trout lily tours in the spring.
Spring Creek Nature Area (Richardson) Paved trails through deep forest for peaceful strolling. Picnic, bring your horseshoes for fun in the horseshoe pit, and visit two historic cemeteries. Best access from Lookout Rd. with trail under Plano Rd. leading to nature area.
Trinity River Audubon Center Premiere nature center in LEED Gold building with educational displays on the river ecosystem. Easy trails with educational signage through a variety of habitats. Best access to the Trinity River in the county and occasional kayak tours.
Trinity Skyline Trail A blend of nature and downtown delights. Follow up a dinner at Trinity Groves with a trail amble as the skyscrapers light up. Pedestrian bridge over river provides impressive views.
Twelve Hills Nature Center Retreat to this inspiring neighborhood park in Oak Cliff that is beloved by adults and children. Participate in guided educational bird and plant walks. Eco-education site for the community.
White Rock Lake Treasured urban lake with extensive paved trails for bicycling/walking, birdwatching areas, cultural center with naturalist museum, and watersports from paddleboard to kayaking to sailing. Popular dog park and picnic pavilions with views.

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