Arbor Hills Nature Preserve: a great outdoor experience in Plano

The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is one of Plano’s outdoor treasures. If you haven’t visited because you didn’t know about it or haven’t had time to check it out, learn about it here. arbor hills entrance

The Preserve is located at 6701 West Parker Road in the west part of Plano. This 200-acre park provides access to three miles of paved hiking paths, three miles of unpaved hiking paths (pedestrian only) for those who are more adventurous, and close to three miles of off-road bike trails for the truly physical. The unpaved trails branch out like veins into the abundant greenery, a wonderful route through nature at its best.

paved path
Paved trails are accessible to everyone.

 

Exploration is invited in this Mecca for walkers–singles, pairs, or entire families, with or without dogs, strollers, or wheelchairs–and runners and cyclists. The Preserve is an easily accessible excuse for outdoor exercise even if you’re not normally drawn to outdoor activities. After all, it’s free, it’s pretty, and you can choose a path that suits your inclination.

unpaved path
Unpaved paths aren’t wheelchair friendly.

 

 

In terms of nature, the Preserve boasts sections of Blackland Prairie, which is the major ecosystem of this region of north Texas, as well as riparian forest and upland forest.

 

 

beautiful greenery

 

uplands 2
Uplands are spacious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the spring, the prairie areas are profuse with wildflowers tended by enamored insects. Our state wildflower, the Bluebonnet, blooms in sweeping swaths from around mid-March to mid-April. Not a long life, but a glorious expression of tiny bonnets in blue! It’s a great time to get those photos of loved ones out in the fields.

bees on flowers

bluebonnet

wildflowers 2

The riparian forest generally occurs along the creeks, thick with various species of proud oak tangled in shrubs and the vines so inevitable in that type of growth.

thick growth by a stream

small bridge

wildlife warning sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife adore inaccessible vegetation, meaning you may well encounter owls and woodpeckers and, if you’re lucky, an egret or heron.

turtles sunbathing                                 Turtles love to hang out in the sun warmed creeks.

The upland forest is a shade tree hangout, including, among others, Cedar elm and flowering Redbud.  redbud tree 2

 

 

 

Great picnic areas under those trees. And the upland is a more comfortable hiking location with numerous open areas where you might see a darting rabbit, a deer, or the rare coyote slinking through the grass.

Chatty squirrels are prolific.

deer            armadillo

 

 

 

 

 

Besides the obvious pleasantries of the environment, the Preserve also provides amenities to increase your enjoyment. There’s a children’s playground, an observation tower, a Pavilion for group gatherings (that requires reservations to use), and restrooms.

pavillion
Pavillion

As in every public park, there are rules and responsibilities to be aware of:

  • unpaved trails are closed during the rainy season to prevent damage
  • nature, when verdant in the summer, harbors unpleasant insects, such as chiggers and mosquitoes. Remember the bug spray!
  • snakes are fascinating, but don’t get too close. Retreat is the rule. Keep a close eye on your pets as you walk them. Don’t let them run loose; a leash is required.

copperhead        signs and rules

  • use the garbage cans provided for litter and dog deposits.
  • skate boards, long boards, and all motorized vehicles (this includes hover boards) are prohibited.

If you’re a Plano resident, a resident of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, or even a visitor from afar, the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is a wonderful day destination for you, your family, and your friends. Obviously, the best time is during warmer weather, so once spring breaks head on over!

The Reserve is open from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. seven days a week. Prior to driving over, call 972-210-2936, option 7, to update yourself on trail conditions. Go to the website at http://www.plano.gov/facilities/facility/details/Arbor-Hills-Nature-Preserve-20 for details and for links to various maps.

Have fun!

 

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