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ON THE TRAILS OR IN THE WATER, ENJOY THE OUTDOORS — ENJOY FORT WORTH
There's a variety of outdoor adventure at the 3,600-acre Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, visitors can experience everything from naturalist-led classes to activities and hikes; daytime kayaking and nighttime canoeing; and, at times, bison-feeding hayrides. Some 100,000 to 150,000 visitors enjoy the Nature Center and Refuge each year, with 40,000 to 50,000 annually stopping at the Hardwicke Interpretive Center. Hardwicke is home to a gift shop, a bird-watching area and a fairly large collection of live animals representative of what visitors might encounter during their visit to the Nature Center and Refuge. It's normal to spot bobcats, cottontail rabbits, prairie dogs, bison, herons, beavers, and a whole list of other critters native to the area. And it goes without mentioning that visitors are sure to see rustling grasslands, serene woodlands and quiet, still waters.
Stretched along the banks of the Trinity River and nestled next to the Fort Worth Zoo, Trinity Park is home to a duck pond, a miniature train, playgrounds and Trinity River Trails. The trails offer multi-use paved paths for joggers, walkers, skaters and cyclists. The park boasts five boat launches for canoes, kayaks and sculls, a water-ski slalom course, a number of fishing spots and equestrian trails for horseback riding. Periodically fish are released into the river, increasing the odds of catching something to brag about. Multiple picnic areas, playgrounds, restrooms and shelters are scattered throughout the park's shady trails, making it a great venue for families.
Just a short drive, bike ride or skate trip from downtown is a new park that is making one of America's hottest wake scenes even hotter - Cowtown Waterpark. The five-tower cable wakeboarding park opened in 2011 in a 5-acre lake adjacent to the Trinity River. Unlike traditional wakeboarding, park goers don't have to own a boat or know someone who does. Instead, as many as five riders are pulled simultaneously around the lake on cables. As they fall off, they swim to the dock and other riders are attached to the cables.
To bicycle or walk from one side of the Trinity River to the other, try the Phyllis Tilley Memorial Bridge located just south of the Lancaster Avenue bridge. The 384-foot bicycle and pedestrian overpass links the east and west side riverfront trails. Bikes can be rented from Trinity Bicycles and Bicycles Inc.
Saddle up for a daytime horseback ride along the Trinity River trails with experienced guides at Fort Worth Stockyards Stables. It's a great way to imagine the pride that Fort Worth settlers experienced when the city was established as a fort on the Trinity in 1849 and the beauty drovers encountered as they moved their cattle to market. Both one-hour and 30-minute rides are available. Stockyards Stables also offers authentic carriage and stagecoach adventures.
For a real outdoor thrill ride, try a few laps around the track at Texas Motor Speedway in a NASCAR or Indy-style race car at speeds up to 180 mph. The NASCAR and Mario Andretti racing experiences include one-on-one training before the adventure and two-way radio communications during the drive. Greats such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have driven the same cars. Those who don't want to push the pedal to the metal can sit shotgun for a NASCAR ride-along, whipping through three laps at a pure heart-pounding speed of 170 mph.
The whole family can stay active at Main Event, with bowling, billiards, golf, rock climbing and more. Located in Fort Worth's Cityview area, the family entertainment center has fun and food for everyone.
For the truly young, or young-at-heart, there's The Pier indoor skate park - made to look like the outdoors. Opened by Jackie Andrews as a safe place for kids to pursue their passion for skateboarding, the park is the handy work of San Diego-based Brent Kronmueller (who has designed and built skate parks and private training facilities for professional teams all over the world). The 6,000-square-foot park is filled with almost every "streetlike" trick spot imaginable.
For the true, rugged outdoor enthusiasts, there's fishing, boating and camping at Eagle Mountain Lake. Creek Harbor Fish Camp, on the northeast side of the lake, offers fishing, picnicking, and boating, as well as tent, RV-site and cabin rentals. Cabins are rustic (no indoor plumbing), with campsites located on the edge of the lake on a small peninsula. Camp amenities include volleyball, horseshoes, swings and fire pits.
Day or night, land or water, there's always something to do in Fort Worth for outdoor enthusiasts and those who want to get up and move. From a relaxed, scenic horseback ride to a heart-pounding turn in a race car, there's plenty to keep everyone busy and fit.
For more information about all that Fort Worth has to offer its residents and visitors visit www.FortWorth.com.
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