On a recent cloudy (and therefore cooler) June morning, John and I took a break from packing for our upcoming move to go hiking at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge on the north side of Fort Worth. We had hiked at the park last June but had not returned in a year (due to lack of time, not desire). The nature center is a quiet oasis within the busy Metroplex, and both times I could not believe we were within Fort Worth city limits.
Initially we thought we’d hike the same trail as last time, the Canyon Ridge Trail, yet we’re more out of shape than we were at this time last June. As we drove into the park, we both had to admit that perhaps we should choose an easier, flatter path. We selected the Crosstimbers Trail, a 3.37-mile loop trail through “ancient forest” (according to the park’s trail map, at least).
We parked at the Canoe Launch and enjoyed a short stroll down part of the Riverbottom Trail, which runs along the West Fork of the Trinity River. Fishermen were already in boats along the river, and we paused a moment in the bird blind. Our avian sightings would come later in the day, however, as no birds made themselves visible while we were in the blind.
Soon we reached the Crosstimbers trailhead. The trail first heads over a levee across the river and then follows a branch of the river for a while. We passed very few other hikers on this trail, which enhanced the quiet beauty that surrounded us.
Deer tracks were easily visible in the soft, sandy soil, although we never spied an actual deer during our morning-long visit at the park.
The Crosstimbers Trail splits and forms a loop after veering away from the river. We chose the path on the right and walked counterclockwise around the loop.
The foliage was a highlight of this trail; the trumpet vines and honeysuckle were especially eye- and nose-catching. The mosquitoes, however, were not. I received multiple bites on my legs and rued leaving the bug spray at home.
We completed the Crosstimbers Trail in good time, and, energized, I felt that we were just hitting our stride. I cajoled John into continuing our explorations of the park. He sleepily agreed, although at the Marsh Boardwalk trailhead he made it clear that he’d rather be napping.
I, however, was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on our hike down the boardwalk.
The boardwalk was not extensive, but it was picturesque and led to several unique vistas for northern Texas.
It was in the marsh that we finally had our major bird sightings. And what a sight – wading birds in flight!
John tried to enjoy the view, but he was still a bit sleepy.
He was a good sport, though, and agreed to finish our morning hike with the Forked Tail Creek Trail, an easy 0.62-mile trail through trees and over numerous dry creeks.
The long wooden bridges were my favorite feature of this trail.
In fact, the only thing that I didn’t like about the Forked Tail Creek Trail was how quickly it came to an end. The same could be said of our entire morning at the Fort Worth Nature Center. Its varied trails and sites (I haven’t even mentioned the bison range!) are impressive; after two trips here, we still have seen only a fraction of what’s available. At $5 per person admission, it’s well worth the cost, and it’s one of the places I’ll miss after we move away.