Fit in the City: Dallas

Shape up in the Lone Star State with these eight outdoor activities.

Amid the sprawling plains, Dallas has beautiful scenery to explore and plenty of opportunities for you to work up a sweat. You can strap on some boots and strut your stuff in the city’s parks, hit the dusty trails on a mountain bike, or try your hand at horseback riding for the true cowboy experience.

The next time you find yourself in Dallas, be sure to check out these Lone Star landmarks:

Katy Trail

Built on an old railroad line, the historic Katy Trail is a favorite spot for Dallas locals and visitors to stretch their legs. The trail system stretches 3.5 miles through the core of downtown Dallas, offering the perfect place for jogging, rollerblading and biking right in the city.

White Rock Lake

White Rock Lake has provided a respite from the sweltering Texas heat since 1911, when construction was completed on the adjacent White Rock Dam. Swimming is off-limits in the lake, but it’s prime territory for kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and fishing.

White Rock also hosts several land-based events throughout the year, including the White Rock Marathon, which circles the lake and is considered one of the top 10 marathons in the United States.

Lake Ray Hubbard

One of the largest lakes in Texas, Lake Ray Hubbard spans a total of 22,000 acres. In the six parks that surround the lake and on the water itself, you can enjoy hiking, biking, water skiing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and other outdoor activities. There are also restaurants and entertainment venues within walking distance of the water, so you can easily make a full day out of a visit to the lake.

Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve

If you want to get up close and personal with Texas’ vibrant wildlife, head to the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve, just 20 minutes from downtown Dallas. It’s a popular destination for bird watchers, but you can also observe wildflowers, native butterflies and small mammals. The preserve spans 600 acres of land and contains nine miles of walking trails ranging from easy to difficult.

Arts District Walking Tour

Combine fitness with cultural appreciation on a Dallas art district walking tour. This stroll takes you through the heart of the arts district, where you’ll examine architecture and other notable Dallas landmarks. The tour kicks off at the Dallas Museum of Art, which offers free general admission if you feel like showing up early for the tour to explore the museum’s impressive collection.

Great Trinity Forest

With 6,000 acres of land, the Great Trinity Forest is the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States. You can hike and bike the trails or tap into Texas’ rich equestrian history by visiting the Texas Horse Park, located within the Great Trinity Forest. The Trinity River Audubon Center, which describes itself as the gateway to exploring the forest, is a perfect starting point for a day full of outdoor activities.

Disc Golf at B.B. Owen Park

Disc golf: half flying discs, half golf, all fun. The goal in disc golf is to fling a disc into a series of baskets. It’s the perfect game for travelers because it requires almost no equipment to play. Just bring yourself and a disc over to the 18-basket course at B.B. Owen Park and let it fly.

Boulder Park Mountain Bike Trail

This varied trail has a little bit of everything: shaded woods, rocky terrain, slopes, fields, creek crossings, twists and turns. The trail spans over 11 miles total, with shorter sections ranging from difficult to beginner-friendly. Between the hill climbs and many obstacles, a ride through Boulder Park is a great way to test your fitness.

Mountain bikers in search of a challenge can follow the red trail, a difficult 2.5 mile loop nestled into a stretch of shaded woods. Stick to the blue trail if you prefer a smoother ride. Outdoor enthusiasts who frequent Boulder Park report that it is best for biking, but the trail can also be used for hiking and trail running. Just keep in mind that it’s recommended that pedestrians travel in the direction opposite the bikers for better visibility.

Last but not least, if you need to squeeze in a workout or you just don’t feel like working up a sweat outside, there are multiple 24 Hour Fitness clubs in the Dallas area. The local staff will welcome you with their signature Texas hospitality and will be happy to show you the ropes of their particular club.

Photo credit: Thinkstock, iStock, dibrova.