Now that COVID-19 has restricted the majority of travelers from jet setting across the world, there has been more time to spend exploring locally. I wrote about the Texas Sculpture Garden in this post. Today, I will share my thoughts on the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve in Plano.
Although we visited this Park a couple of times for the balloon festival in September many years ago, we did not fully explore it. Spread out over 800 acres of lush green land, the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve must surely be Plano’s best treasure. It houses a nature and retreat center, an amphitheater, a lake, eight miles of concrete trails and five miles of soft-surface trails along Rowlett Creek. Stand-up paddling, canoeing, and kayaking are allowed in the lake, although kayak rentals are presently closed. Catch and release fishing is also popular here. Pavilions are available for reservations, although currently closed until mid-August. The southern end connects with Bob Woodruff Park and provides a large area for horseback riding. Given current conditions, trail closures are frequent. The nature and retreat center boasts an indoor nature exhibit. It also provides 2400 sq feet of rental space for events, such as weddings, conferences, meetings, reunions, etc.
One of the things the Park has done is to preserve the native trees and the flora of the Blackland Prairie. A tree and plant identification guide can be downloaded from the Park website, so visitors can try to spot them on their visit. We found Engelmann daisies and blanketflowers on our trip.
The Park also boasts a Go Ape treetop and ziplining adventure course, built about 27 feet high up in the woodland canopy. According to their website, “Go Ape will have you navigating 40 crossings with varying suspended obstacles and flying from treetop to the ground on one of our four ziplines. Our Go Ape Treetop Adventure course features thrilling views of the lush local landscape and even a zipline that crosses over Rowlett Creek. Our high-ropes adventure course takes between 2-3 hours to complete.” I must admit that I had not heard about this adventure until we found Oak Point Park online recently, which is a shame! This Go Ape course was closed on our visit at the end of June. It has since reopened with new COVID-19 guidelines.
On the evening of our visit, the Park was somewhat busy. We wore masks and maintained a reasonable distance from other visitors. We first hit the boardwalk trail, which was just a joy! The waters of the Creek were muddy after recent rains. The lush greenery, the quiet and solitude permeating the area, and the surroundings’ tranquility stirred the soul.
Next, we walked to the retreat center and onto the trail around the lake. The crowd here was more, but people were careful to maintain distancing. Few were fishing. Many sat on the steps at the edge of the lake, enjoying solitude or chatting with family or a friend. Some walked their pets. Others rode their bikes. We carried a picnic that we heartily enjoyed in the coolness of the evening breeze and the shade of some trees.
The trail around the lake is just short of a mile. We walked the distance, stopping to enjoy the wildflowers along the way. We watched the plants growing along the banks sway in the breeze, and watched the ripples on the lake. The sun was a golden orb in the sky and boldly posed for some beautiful photos. We saw a snake near the creek along the boardwalk, but didn’t come across other animals. Although as the Park website states: be watchful for wild animals, venomous snakes, insects and poison ivy, bring sunscreen and bug spray, and chiggers are prevalent during summer months.
Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve is a great getaway for an afternoon trail walking or an evening bike. Once COVID-19 settles down, we hope to do the treetop adventure with Go Ape. Until then, we will keep returning to explore the trails.