As the oppressive Texas summer finally makes way for autumn, people naturally flock to the great outdoors. In the DFW area, many fresh-air seekers head to Garland, where they discover more than 2,800 acres of recreational options. Garland is an unexpected oasis of lakes, lush parks, and nature preserves laced with winding trails. 

Hit the Lake!

The crown recreational jewel of Garland, of course, is Lake Ray Hubbard, a 21,000-acre lake that beckons the entire Dallas area to a peaceful place to relax and unwind.  

“Garland is one of those cities with so much square footage that some people don’t even realize that it stretches all the way down to Lake Ray Hubbard,” says Christopher Hallmark, marketing supervisor with the City of Garland Parks and Recreation. “So many restaurants in Garland with beautiful patio seating areas are the perfect outdoor spot to watch the sunrise or sunset over the lake with spectacular views.” 

Of course, the lake is not just for viewing—it’s for doing. When you feel the urge to get out on the water, load up your boat or jet skis, grab your fishing rod, or pack a picnic and head out for a full day of fun. From almost any point in Dallas, you’ll arrive to the shores of the lake in about 20 minutes. From boating, water skiing, and fishing to sailing and windsurfing, Lake Ray Hubbard redefines relaxation. Access the lake via Bass Pro Shops docks or through the Chaha Ramp at John Paul Jones Park. 

Photo courtesy of City of Garland

Hit the Trails!

When you think of Garland, the perks of modern suburbia typically come to mind. And while there is plenty to do, see, eat, and shop for in Garland, its hidden gems are what you don’t immediately see whenever you visit or pass through—64 parks and more than 15 trails totaling over 35 miles, to be exact. In fact, you can get so deep into the covered and secluded off-road trails in Garland that you can barely hear street noises anymore, making it an unexpected find in an urban setting. 

“People tend to view Garland as an urban and industrial city, so it often surprises them to learn about the miles of trails and the large number of parks we have that go beyond the typical soccer fields,” says Dana Lodge, director of the Garland Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They offer more of a true nature experience.” 

Photo courtesy of City of Garland

The best way to start exploring the trail system in Garland is to map them out and make a plan to explore them all with a hike, jog, or bike ride. Start at GarlandTX.gov to learn more about the city’s trail systems and discover more than 60 parks, including a disc golf park and a dog park. Three of Garland’s largest and most popular trails are Rowlett Creek Preserve, Spring Creek Forest Preserve, and Duck Creek Greenbelt Trail. 

Located off Centerville Road in Garland, Rowlett Creek Preserve is a 16-mile, stacked-loop trail system that allows users the flexibility to choose various loop combinations to obtain distances that vary from one to 16 miles. The trail is comprised of 14 connected loops numbered in the way they were built. Half of the trail is wooded with portions that are tight and twisty, while the rest is out in the open with some fast straightaways. Relatively flat with some short climbs, Rowlett Creek Preserve is open to all skill levels, but as the loop ID number increases, so does the skill level required to negotiate it, making it a hit with adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. Rowlett Creek Preserve is expansive—574.9 total acres of park land, 2.2 acres of developed land, and 16.3 miles of unpaved trail. 

Photo courtesy of City of Garland

Spring Creek Forest Preserve is a natural forest preserve offering a combination of both paved and natural surface trails. The Preservation Society for Spring Creek Forest nurtures this beautiful space and biological museum, which is home to more than 650 species of plants and animals. 

The Duck Creek Greenbelt Trail spans 5.7 miles and has a wide paved trail with various looped segments. The trail parallels both banks of Duck Creek, making it a scenic spot for almost any outdoor adventure. 

Hit the Greens!

Nothing goes better with a nice fall day than golf, and many North Texans head to Garland to get their fix. Whether you’re an avid golfer ready to play a round or a novice player looking to hit a bucket of balls, you’ll experience a day you won’t forget at Firewheel Golf Park. The park contains 63 holes of championship-caliber golf, including three regulation courses with designs that challenge and delight. 

Photo courtesy of City of Garland

Hit the Mark!

You wouldn’t expect to find so much nature this close to downtown Dallas, but Garland is full of surprises. The city invites you to Make Your Mark by conquering the path less traveled and embarking on an adventure on miles of paths, trails, and green space envied by the asphalt jungle. 

Visit MakeYourMarkGarland.com and click “See & Do” then “Outdoor Adventures” to plan your escape.