This post is the next in our series, Hidden Gems, where we visit places hidden in plain view, in and around Dallas, that we have explored this summer and in the past. You can access that series of posts here.
Last week, while researching neighborhood parks, I came across this hidden gem, Prairie Creek Park in Richardson. It was surprising to know that such a large park existed in this area and that it had a man-made waterfalls. Of course, we had to visit such a beauty!
Prairie Creek Park is a short drive from US 75 and the UT Dallas campus. I have driven past that area many times, never once registering that such a beautiful piece of nature lay close-by. According to the TRAPS (Texas Recreation and Park Society) website, the Park was established in 1966 when the department director “purchased 37.2 acres for protecting nature and wildlife habitat.” Since then the Park has had only minimal improvements done to maintain it as a wildlife preserve. The website further adds that the “Important improvements developed within the Park over the years include two wooden pedestrian bridges, a spectacular waterfall, the Discovery Point outdoor learning area, and the Huck Finn soft surface nature trail.”
We packed a picnic for our outing to the Park. Even as we turned onto W Prairie Creek Drive to access the Park, I felt disbelief. Could there be such a vast area of seclusion and greenery amid all the traffic, just a short distance away on US 75? The Park is one side of the street and a row of homes on the other. There were two pedestrian bridges we crossed, trying to find a spot to park. There were vast tracts of open green spaces where kids and adults played in. Eventually, we parked near the falls. There were large and tall shady trees providing adequate shade for picnicking. There were benches scattered in a few areas.
The natural wooded lands around the Park were magnificent. But the falls themselves were a bit of a disappointment as only a small stream of water gushed over the lip of the fall. The water above the falls was stagnant and green with algae. A friend who visited at the end of May had much better luck; they were able to capture the falls in its full form! See the first photo above. But I guess one cannot be too hopeful in the middle of a hot Texan summer!
After enjoying a fine dinner and some family banter, we packed all the items back in the car. Then we walked across the falls to follow the nature trail. By now, dusk was rapidly falling. Beneath the dense canopy of the trees, the path was in the shadows. We followed it for a distance before taking one of the pedestrian bridges to get the main road. The trail was easy to hike and would fit children and adults.
The Park was busy at the time of our visit. Families were out playing Frisbee or soccer, walking dogs, hanging out with friends, celebrating birthdays, and just chilling. Young girls in costumes, a well-turned-out couple and a teenager celebrating her quinceanera were busy with a host of photoshoots. Surprisingly, we weren’t bothered by mosquitoes, despite the lateness of the evening.
The Park was a pleasant getaway for an evening. An oasis of peace in the midst of a concrete jungle and one worth a visit.
Prairie Creek Park is located at 2400 W Prairie Creek Dr, Richardson, TX 75080