J R and Anna walk the White Rock Creek
Trail from White Rock Lake, north to just past LBJ. First, into
a brief, city-surrounded near-wilderness area, then up through the grime
of the city, and north of LBJ Freeway, where the trail disappears into
a slender forest surrounded
July 1 — The First Leg Up
Dista Vista — a long and winding path
through trees and wildlife forever north
A bicycler stopped
us to ask where was the North Trail (He said it went all the way to LBJ.)
a couple weeks ago, and we hadn't a clue. But I'd been meaning to follow
the mysterious path
of Mockingbird Lane at Lawther West for months, talked with folk who do,
one said there was hawk that flies up it every morning...
I walked the walk. And loved it.
Egret in a Tree
Got over flown by a Little Blue twice, up and down,
saw Yellow-crowns just standing mere feet from the path, another in a tree,
two eegs in trees, a lot of bicyclers wearing the same T-shirt and darned
few walkers or joggers. No more than two dozen total when the rest of the
lake park was inundated — no parking spaces left.
I walked about four miles total. My far point was just
north of the Subway on Skillman near Royal, where I tried to get a breakfast
sandwich, but they wouldn't open till 8. Next time I'll start there and
go north again. LBJ?
July 2 — Of Hawks and Horses
quite make it to LBJ, just Walnut Hill. Round trip,
according to Anna's pedometer, was over 4 miles. I used to be so proud
to walk two.
overpass underpassage cave bridge creek curve
The route north from Skillman is more urban than south
to the lake. Wider swaths of green, more bridges over, along and through.
Streets and residential areas are plainly visible, though the Parks Department
was watering trees that eventually will help hide those. Lucky residents,
except it feels more like a mild park than a wild trail. Pity.
On the southermore path it's difficult to get up much
ire for development. Here, it's scary. I'll walk north till the trail runs
out, but I doubt I'll come back except to find and photo the hawk.
Actual view, left. Over-enlarged,
not quite pixelated,
view, right (The left wing is tree,
Far fewer birds, except that hawk I'd hoped to see but
hardly expected this quick. Brought my wide angle lens, sharp but not good
for birds in tops of far trees.
This might be a Red-shouldered Hawk. According
to Birds of Texas, they like to
perch high and prefer wet woodlands, medium-sized mammals, small reptiles
and only an occasional bird, which may explain abundant birdsong nearby.
I thought I'd know a hawk by other birds' silence.
Back-biting Symbiotes — actually
very friendly, but shy of that fence
Major wild life we found was horses, maybe 100 yards
off the trail. Anna's still fond of those, so we got up close. Too close
at first; she got zapped by the electric fence. We were especially taken
by a tall, gray, tiny-spotted, attractive horse Anna called Seurat Pointillism
or Appaloosa; the horse lady called a Roan; I suggested "Dapploosa," but
its official name is Fleabitten Gray.
Fleabitten Gray - photo by
Notice how much bigger it is.
The minor wildlife we barely saw at some distance (me
standing there gaping, not thinking to raise my camera) was a family of
five dark, rounded, smallish-to-medium-sized mammals (nutrea? beaver?)
scurrying across the street and trail north of the Fair Oaks Tennis Center
our wilderness exploration, not far after we passed the hawk.
July 4 — Ever Northward
coolest bench yet
Way less wild
the norther we go along the Appalachian. er... White Rock Trail north
of the Equestrian Center, today's starting point. Makes day before yester's complained-about
trek seem like backwoods.
We saw one hawk twice in too-quick glimpses to photo
it; one plastic bag egret (looked so much like an egret, till
we got much closer); mockingbirds (yeah, they're ubiquitous, but I'm hoping
if I mention them specifically, one will fly perpendicular to my vision
when I have a camera in my hand with the lens aimed in its direction, so
I can high-speed pan it to capture that distinctive striping flash of wing);
cardinals and tons of other birds, but no real egrets or herons.
most of today's trek involved
circumnavigating a golf course
We also saw: an old friend — first serious stop
and talk since we started our extended journey; the best bench yet (comfy
if minimal); too much commerce; several beaver (?) dams in the creek behind
the trees along the trail; and it almost rained.
July 5, 2006 — The Longest Leg
Trash Meadow the Day After July 4
Our longest chunk
of the trail yet. Just under six miles round trip. Not that we planned
it. Just worked out, because we wanted
to get to LBJ before
went back. That seemed more important before we did it.
Store Closing Barrage Balloon
From the Fourth of July trash scattered
across the park where we started, to the red and white sales balloon
that hovered over the trees not far up the trail, and all those ugly buildings
and visual clutter interrupting what we had come to expect as more like
a wilderness experience, today's journey was
the most disappointing yet of our northward hike.
United Texas Bank towers beyond
It was the most visually diverse trek yet, and we're
still inspired enough to keep going, ever northward and a little east toward
Keller Springs, which the map I saw shows as the headwaters of the mighty
White Rock Creek (although I've since learned the source of this mini-Nile
is actually near Frisco, Texas).
It's not all ugly.
Somewhere without us quite noticing where exactly, the
creek turned from the mud and dirt banks of a natural creek into a paved
canal of water
stunk and foamed.
Snowy Egret Flying Over the Channel
Birds don't seem to mind, even the big ones that catch
maybe a half dozen Snowy Egrets, Two Great Egrets and one magnificent
over (flying) the channel. No little herons, however. They're shy.
bird house or holes in the tree
Bats? and that bird house with a bird
Looks like they're attempting to attract more flying
creatures to the area. And that can only help. Now, if they could delete
some of the clutter. Or plant a whole bunch more trees. No way to turn
back the clock on this area, but it's be nice not to have to see Forest
Avenue for the trees.
I think I understand this person's eye-popping distress.
Water — You Know It's Clean If It Foams
It's a busy place, with lots of big distractions
and important little attractions.
The Yellow Tongues of White Horsenettles
Sunflower Fence Along
The Joy of Buildings Along the Trail
The brown Parks Department sign on the right suggests
trail riders and hikers "Report Trail Concerns Hazards and Suggested Improvements
along the city side of the trail might help.
Some of the more in- and e-volved graffiti
Accentuating The Vertical
Tunnel of Green
Great Egret and Reflection in the Canal
Forest Lane Bridge
In the darkest shadows under the Forest Lane
Bridge a big guy
was camping out, lying lengthwise in the path, some sort of pillow
and his pack. He was still there when we came back.
Help Stamp Out Graffiti
Short Bridge Through Green on one side of Park Central
Big Steel & Glass Boxes on the other side of the
Path Almost Hidden from Road
We joked about that red bowtie shape in the puddle at
the bottom of what the bridge above was over being medical waste, since
we were across the street from Medical City. But it
cup amid all the other
a path through industrial areas.
Bikers and hikers don't litter, but fisherman and tourists
LBJ At Last!
Black Shrooms in the Woods Nearby
Anna At Rest with Sunflower
Heading Back South
We talked about catching a bus or calling a cab — we
were so weary and over-heated. Instead, we noshed at a SubWay along the
Great North Dallas Chip Channel and wearied our way south, taking far fewer
photographs and keeping one foot in front of the other, falling back home.
Out Standing in Red
Great Blue Chinning
Weary as we were, when I spotted this largish Great Blue
Heron way down below us in the channel, we were quietly amazed. He
just stood there. The only muscles moving were its tongue, which wavered
cheek, which vibrated as if he were chewing — or gargling.
Ledge Sitter with Biker
Left-over Fireworks back at Trash Meadow
in the Park
at Greenville and Royal
July 8 — The End of The Trail
Tree Clinging to the Cliff
Perhaps just as
I have procrastinated writing this end of our story, we procrastinated
ending our walk north on the White
Rock Trail. After hiking and sweating
every morning those days, striving ever northward, this final leg was
We parked in the lot just south of where we'd peaked
last time out — it hardly seemed momentous — and walked north,
stopping as we always do at every beaten path, every potentially scenic
White Rocks in White Rock Creek
I was surprised to see the creek wide and green below
us, filled with big, bright, nature-polished white rocks. I wondered whether
the creek and the lake it supplies was named after the rocks here or the
few in and along the lake itself. History, as often, is unclear on the
The creek here was the most scenically beautiful
we've seen — and deep. Only a few inches of water in it then,
but the whole creek bed was dangerously far below us, off a rocky edge
of earth with it.
Trees clung to the edge and protective fences were sporadic.
Deep drop-offs awaited the unwary. It was a fitting and somewhat spectacular
end to the official trail. On the map, the dotted line stopped
just south of
LBJ in that last park.
Six and a Half Miles — but from where?
There was no signage indicating the end — or the beginning
— of White Rock Creek Trail. This mile marker was as final as it got. The
friend we'd met on the trail said the part of the trail she biked daily
was 8.4 miles long, so we have no idea from where this 6.5 miles measure
although I vaguely recalled a 1 somewhere well south.
This is the most beautiful photograph I've ever taken
of Loop 635, more commonly known as LBJ Freeway, the outer loop that once
defined the far edges of urban Dallas.
Trail North of LBJ
The sidewalk, fences and wide spot between
the trees and wide, empty fields continued north of LBJ, and we followed,
past where the edge had crumbled and large chunks of the wood fence and
that had supported it were sliding ever so slowly but precariously into
the creek, a taller chain-link fence screening it as it did.
Picture Windows under the Last Overpass
Past another parking lot and the end of pavement,
minimal signage and only an opened gate and a thin trail under the last
overpass, then out into the woods beyond, the path widening slightly past
a weathered sign
marking the "Valley
View Nature Trail," into the dense woods like we'd always hoped
the Trail itself would become.
After a while, the path forked, looping into the forest,
the constant din of not so distant traffic almost louder than the birds
all around us. Nature, indeed, although we saw one Snowy Egret twice or
two of them once — and lots of plastic bag egrets.
Across the creek to the west, we saw a rickety tree house
and manicured lawns eventually giving way to another golf course as the
thin but worn trail wound near
the creek's edge, up and down little and bigger hills, eventually looping
back to the nature trail sign, a disintegrating bench, then back to LBJ,
the park playground, parking lots, and my car.
back to LBJ
Today's walk didn't seem that far. We'd have liked
to follow the creek northwest a couple more miles, then come back and done
it again the next day and the next. But it was over.