cedar hill state park

Cedar Hill State Park

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Cedar Hill State Park is located on the eastern shore of Joe Pool Lake approximately 20 miles southwest of downtown Dallas.  The 1,826 acre park features 350 campsites near restrooms with hot showers, ample fishing and boating opportunities, over 27 miles of biking and hiking trails, and the historic Penn Farm.

I visited Cedar Hill State Park to take my dog Annie on a hike.  A selection of shorts trails which combine to make a five-mile hike is located centrally near the historic Penn Farm.  There are also three longer DORBA loops in the southern section of the park which cater to mountain bikers.

Hiking in Cedar Hill State Park

Seeing as how I didn’t want to dodge mountain bikers and historic buildings intrigue me, I pieced together the shorter paths.  I headed south on the 2.3 mile Talala Trail, connected to the 0.8 Plum Valley Trail, continued on the 0.8 mile Duck Pond Trail before returning north and ending on the 0.6 mile path through Penn Farm.

I passed through grassland blooming with wildflowers and buzzing with bees, enjoyed the shade of a hardwood forest, took in a few views of the lake, and circled the pond as Annie bounced along the trail.  The hike crosses the road a few times and isn’t that well marked, so it is best to carry the trail map with you.

History of Penn Farm

I took my final loop walk through the Penn Farm which includes many historic buildings, cisterns, and lots of old farm equipment.  The Penn family came from Illinois in 1854 after hearing of the fertile Blackland Prairie.  Over the next decade, Major John Penn acquired over 2,200 acres of land and gave 800 acres to his son, John Wesley.

John Wesley expanded his land to 1,200 acres and such parcel is Penn Farm.  He built the first single-room farmhouse on the property in 1859 where the Penns and their five children lived (without A/C).  The Penns raised cattle, chicken, and pigs for food as well as horses to help work the land. They along with tenant farmers produced oats and grain.

house on penn farm

As a result, many other buildings such a granary, barns, and a chicken coop were constructed.  The main barn, which wasn’t built until 1915 includes an old schoolhouse and tenant cabin inside for support!

The family operated the farm for over 100 years before it was sold to the US Army Corp of Engineers for the construction of Joe Pool Lake in 1975. Today, Texas Parks and Wildlife stand watch over the farm and Cedar Hill State Park.

We enjoyed a great, though warm and humid Monday at the park.  We only ran into one group of hikers near the Duck Pond, and the rest of this May morning we sweated in solitude. 😊  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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