I wrote all about our first visit to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge here. Last weekend, we returned to hike the longest trail there, the Meadow Pond Trail. At 2.85 miles one way, the hike would be just shy of 6 miles. The path leads past Deaver Pond and Meadow Pond to the end and back. According to the Hagerman website, the trail is “Located near the Big Mineral Day Use Area at the west end of Wildlife Drive. Situated on the old KATY Rail bed, this trail hosts a variety of habitats, including shallow ponds, farm fields, forests, and bottomland hardwoods. Wading birds, turkey, deer, squirrel, and numerous species of sparrows are often seen along the route. The surface is gravel, and may be your best bet for a hike after a rain.”

Meadow Pond Trail at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
Meadow Pond Trail at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
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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.

Dallas has so many hiking trails, and it has now become a habit for Mr. JJ and me to check out a different trail course each weekend. This past weekend, we decided to walk the trail at Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Garland. (This trail is separate from the Spring Creek Nature Area on N. Plano Rd in Richardson near UTD). First discovered in 1980 by Bobby Scott, who identified the forest’s uniqueness and the wildflowers that grew in this area, the Preservation Society for Spring Creek Forest was created to preserve and protect this area.

Spring Creek Forest Preserve, Garland
Spring Creek Forest Preserve, Garland
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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.

I have said it a lot while writing this series, and I will repeat it. How did I not know that such a wonderful place existed so close, and I had no clue about it??!! Here I was, traveling the world, seeking biodiversity, all the while ignoring what lay in my backyard! Terrible!!

Of all the places we have visited this summer/ fall, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge takes the cake. A mere 45-minute drive from home, with little to no traffic both ways, very few people at the refuge, and with no entrance fee! Mr. JJ and I made a trip yesterday afternoon, a couple of hours before the refuge closed at sunset. The weather was perfect, enough golden sun for enjoying the area, a light breeze, and sufficient crispness in the air for a couple of brisk walks.

Heron stalking prey at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
Heron stalking prey at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
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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.

In the southwest corner of Dallas County, across from Cedar Hill State Park, lie 600 acres of land. Home to Cedar Ridge Preserve, this hidden gem is filled with towering trees, flowering meadows, leaves starting to turn color, trails that climb up and slide down, those that meander left, right, and center. As its website states, a nature preserve’s “primary focus is to maintain and/or restore natural ecological conditions to protect native plants and wildlife.” As may be self-evident, preserves provide hiking and educational opportunities but not as many recreational activities or amenities as parks. Audubon Dallas, which manages Cedar Ridge, runs on the backs of volunteers, their time and commitment. From what I learned of its history, this area started as a cattle ranch in the 1960s to 1970s that became an environmental center, then was the Dallas Nature Center from the 1980s to when Audubon Dallas took over in 2002.

Cattail Pond at Cedar Ridge Preserve
Cattail Pond at Cedar Ridge Preserve
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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.

Recently, we came to know through friends about the Legacy Trail. Linking three different pre-existing trails, the Legacy Trail runs from Rockledge (near Coit and McDermott) to Spring Creek Pkwy. Nearly a month ago, Mr. JJ and I took our first walk on the newly minted route from Rockledge to just past McDermott. But last week, we went with our friends, the SS family, who invited us to walk this trail with them.

Trail marker for Legacy Trail
Legacy Trail marker at Rockledge
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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.

Chandor Gardens, named for its original owners, Douglas and Ina Chandor, is located in Weatherford, TX. A ninety-minute drive from our home in North Texas. The gardens are open over the weekends, from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday and noon to 4 pm on Sundays. Last weekend, Mr. JJ offered to drive me to (re)visit these lovely gardens. Our first trip here was several years ago, while the children were still young. It was early spring, and after a visit to Chandor, we stopped along the roadside meadows to take photos in a sea of bluebonnets. I wrote a snippet about it here.

tree lined walkway
Walk path leading to the Cave Grotto
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Arbor Hills is one of Plano’s best-known sites for a day in the sun and has been for as long as I can remember. When our kids were younger, we have met friends there, celebrated birthday parties, and taken the kids on nature walks. I distinctly remember going up to the observation tower but have never made it past that area. To rectify that, Mr. JJ and I went to take our weekend walk two Sundays ago. By the time we got there, it was already close to 9 am and cars packed the parking lot. Not wishing to waste time looking for a spot, we went elsewhere for our hike. But last weekend, we woke up early and made it to the parking lot at Arbor Hills just as the sun was a beautiful orange ball on the horizon.

Entrance to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
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