wildflowers at fort worth nature center and refuge

Happy Hiking: Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

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Anyone that follows my blog likely knows that I prefer hiking in the crisp mountain air to a body of water, like this hike to Sawtooth Lake, so metroplex hikes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area don’t exactly compare.  That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge.

History of Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is located 11 miles northwest of Fort Worth.  The nature area comprised of forests, prairies, and wetlands was established in 1964.  Owned and operated by the City of Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is one of the largest city-owned nature centers in the United States.

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The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge covers 3,621 acres which surround the man-made Lake Worth and line the West Fork of the Trinity River.  The refuge features 20 miles of hiking trails, an interpretive center, a prairie dog town and bison range, picnic areas and a Texas Parks and Wildlife Paddling Trail.

The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge charges an admission fee (including $1 for dogs) and has somewhat limited opening hours as it closes every day by 5 pm.

map of fort worth nature center

My crazy dog Annie and I visited on a Monday in late May.  The entrance road was lined with prairies of wildflowers.  It was so lovely and I truly hoped our hike to Greer Island and along Canyon Ridge Trail would afford me a chance to snap some photos.

Greer Island

Greer Island and Canyon Ridge Trail are located in the southeast corner of the park.  We parked in nice paved lot and began our 6.1 mile hike at the entrance to Greer Island.  The well maintained gravel trail followed the levee that once was wide enough for vehicular traffic.

Now the path is lined with black willow and buttonbush as it passes through the wetlands home to herons and other waterbirds.  While we came across some Texas bull nettle and trumpet vine, there was not an abundance of wildflowers to be found here.

After a short time exploring and overgrown section of the trail whose low hanging branches took my visor off a few times, I turned back toward the lollipop loop which circled through the shaded forest.

Canyon Ridge Trailhead

From Greer Island, we crossed the parking lot to the Canyon Ridge Trailhead. This trail also began in dense forest, and I thought to myself, I hope I didn’t make a mistake and pick a hike that doesn’t pass through the wildflowers.

Much to my relief the undulating limestone and sand trail, soon reached a patch of wildflowers and continued to pass intermittently between shady forest and prairie pockets of wildflowers.  Orange and white blanketed the grasslands as butterflies flitted from flower to flower.

Also, much to my surprise, I stumbled across three different ruins of CCC cabins constructed during the depression era.  One cabin even had a tiny, rusted box spring.  Two sets of ruins were tucked into the wildflower meadows, while two afforded distant views.

Old stone stairs led to these structures perched atop the ridge.  For a trail near sea level, there were several short ascents and descents through small canyons and across dry creek beds.  Additionally, lizards darted across the dirt path as vultures roosted in the tree canopies.

The hike, with interesting topography, wonderful wildflowers, historical cabins, and wildlife, made for a lovely visit to the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. As always, I recommend packing your ten hiking essentials and using a map. I like Alltrails.

I will definitely be returning to check out some other trails, to view the bison, and to paddle along the Trinity!  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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