You've probably strolled through a park near your house, apartment or hotel. Perhaps you've made a trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens or Fort Worth Nature Center Refuge. Maybe you've even xeriscaped your yard. But Fort Worth just might offer a few opportunities to experience the natural world you haven't considered.
So if you've only happened upon undiscovered back country when searching for your golf ball, plan a trip to one of these spots to see what you've missed.
PC: Trinity Park Duck Pond
The parts of Trinity Park you can see from the I-30 expressway make for a nice outdoor stroll, but if you go a little deeper into the park, nature will swim right up to you - assuming you’ve brought some bread with you and are willing to share. That's because if you head to the north side of the park, you'll find the Trinity Park Duck Pond. It's home to a variety of species of fowl and suitable for all ages.
More Than Flowers
Across University Drive from Trinity Park, you will find the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. It covers 110 vegetative acres, and, per Senior Horticulturist Steve Huddleston, has some spots not everyone finds.
PC: Victor and Cleyone Tinsley Garden at Fort Worth Botanic Gardens
The Victor and Cleyone Tinsley Garden ("what we commonly call the Rock Springs Garden," says Steve) can be seen from the freeway. But you might not have thought to check it out yet because it was recently revamped and dedicated in April 2016. It's part of the Garden's original 1912 remit and features ponds, a boardwalk, a stone walkway and bridge and a great view. Continue east from here and you will stubble upon some shaded nature trails perfect for a leisurely walk.
One of Huddleston's favorite less-obvious areas is the Four Seasons Garden. You'll find this intimate linear space right by the Japanese Gardens parking lot under shade trees. Its plants represent the four seasons.
PC: Charlie Company Memorial in Four Seasons Garden
West of the Four Seasons Garden lies the Charlie Company memorial. It's in a serene area Huddleston describes as "underused." The nearby shady clearing provides an opportunity to reflect on the monument, which commemorates an effort city residents undertook to boost the morale of a company of soldiers serving in Vietnam.
Find Your Refuge
The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge sits in northwestern Fort Worth and offers 20 miles of hiking trails full of opportunities to observe what Mother Nature has to offer. For something off the beaten path, Michael Perez, the Parks and Recreation Department's onsite Natural Scientist Supervisor recommends their Canyon Ridge Trail. This 3.25 mile point-to-point trail follows offers stunning views of Lake Worth and is the park’s most difficult trail. Hikers should be prepared for steep inclines.
PC: Greer Island, Trinity Arts Photo Club, courtesy of Fort Worth Nature Center
While you're out hiking, make sure to see the Civilian Conservation Corps structures along the trail to get some historical perspective on the efforts taken to preserve the area over the past eight decades or so. Speaking of history, you can access the trail from Greer Island, which, as Perez points out, is where the center began back in 1964.
Take to the Lake
Jump in and cool off this summer! Eagle Mountain Lake is located 20 miles from downtown Fort Worth in northwest Fort Worth, just past the Nature Center & Refuge. The 9,104-acre lake is a popular destination for water sports such as boating and sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, waterskiing and wakeboarding and, of course, fishing.
Stick your toes in the sand at Twin Points Park on the southside of Eagle Mountain Lake. The beachfront is open Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day weekend, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and is the hot spot for family fun.
PC: Twin Points Park, Tarrant Regional Water District
Birdwatchers and geocachers will rejoice at the sight of Eagle Mountain Park, a 400-acre scenic park that has been left untouched for the majority. Download the park map to begin exploring Fort Worth in its most natural form.
PC: Overland Lake Park
You can’t see it from any major roads, but Oakland Lake Park in east Fort Worth offers an opportunity for a relaxing stroll, feeding some ducks at its small lake, enjoying a picnic lunch and just generally enjoying the outdoors. Plus, it’s just two exits from downtown off I-30. Just turn right on Oakland Avenue and take one of your next three lefts and you will arrive at the park.
While you’re on the city’s east side, take time to visit Tandy Hills Park, too. The Tandy Hills Natural Area features a plot of undeveloped prairie that will give you an idea of what North Texas might have looked like before human settlement. To find it, search for 3400 View Street in Fort Worth.
The Airfield Falls Trailhead and Conservation Park just opened to the public last month, so this Westworth Village destination might not have made it onto your radar yet. There’s an airborne theme with part of a retired McDonnell Douglas C-9 on display and a pavilion on the site of the former Carswell base commander’s home. It also features the county’s largest natural waterfall. The landscaping is done with an eye to water conservation, so take note as you explore the trails and waterways.
PC: Airfield Falls, Joseph Dalcour
More Than a Bench
If you visit Foster Park in southwestern Fort Worth, walk northwest past the playgrounds toward Overton Park. In a clearing under the tree canopy, you’ll find the Legacy of Love Breast Cancer Memorial. It commemorates those who have battled the disease with a brick walkway laid out in the shape of the familiar ribbon that has long symbolized the movement. Sit on the bench in the center to ponder the nature around you and the courage of the women memorialized.
PC: Foster Park Breast Cancer Memorial