Looking to get away for a few hours? Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, with its 200 acres of pristine, all-natural beauty, just might be the perfect place to get lost.
Why You’ll Love Arbor Hills
When you’re in need of a little peace and quiet, Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is full of restorative vibes. These 200 acres are home to a variety of plants and animals, taking you out of the city and into a picturesque wilderness.
In the center of the park, you’ll find 3 miles of paved trails, perfect for everything from a leisurely, after-dinner stroll to a calorie-burning run. From the paved trails, you’ll find about 3 miles of unpaved trails, which ultimately frame the park. If you’ve got your hiking boots on, you can head deeper into the Arbor Hills wilderness. The unpaved trails link back to the paved trails at various places throughout the park.
One of the reserve’s main draws is its observation tower, which offers an amazing view of the city and surrounding suburbs. Bring your camera, because you won’t want to forget these panoramic views. The observation tower is about halfway down Tower Trail, making it a great place for a quick break.
Does your dog enjoy a stroll in the park even more than you do? Well, there’s more good news, because Arbor Hills is pet-friendly! Just make sure you bring a doggie bag to clean up after your pet.
Nature buffs will recognize that Arbor Hills features three eco-regions. The largest, Blackland Prairie, is home to grassy fields and wildflowers. It’s dotted with a few trees, but it’s not covered in forest. In the second eco-region, a riparian forest, you’ll find a branching creek. This region is home to its own specific variety of flora and fauna, including fish and reptiles.
On the north side of the preserve is the third eco-region. It’s an upland forest, perfect for hikers in search of the Texas cedar elm. These large trees make this the shadiest place in the preserve. Come spring, this region’s redbud and Eve’s Necklace trees are full of beautiful buds.
Hit the Trails
This 200-acre park is home to gorgeous, meandering trails. Whether you’re into running, hiking, or leisurely walks, you’ll enjoy the park’s all-natural backdrops. You’ll find about 3 miles of unpaved, pedestrian-only trails. If you want to ride your road bike through the preserve, you should stick to the 3 miles of paved trails. For dirt bikers, there are also trails designed specifically for off-road biking, which are about 2.8 miles long.
Before you head out, you should know that unpaved trails can sometimes close due to wet weather conditions. The idea is to prevent trail damage caused by erosion. If it’s been a few days since the last rainfall, there’s no need to wonder whether you can explore the trails. Just call 972-210-2936, option 9, for current trail conditions. Hardcore hikers can even download an app to check current conditions, the Rainout Line app.
In addition to miles of pristine trails, Arbor Hills also offers drinking fountains and picnic areas. If you’re planning on spending hours on the trail, however, we recommend bringing your own water bottle. This way, you can refill it at one of the water fountains as needed.
Party at the Pavilions
At Arbor Hills, there are three pavilions available for reservation: Redbud, Burr Oaky, and Hawthorn. All three make a great place to throw a party, whether it’s your kid’s birthday or time for a baby shower.
You can choose between two time slots for reservation, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Note that you can only choose one time slot per day. It’s easy to get a reservation, too. Just head to the park’s reservation page.
As of this writing, Arbor Hills Preserve pavilions are scheduled to reopen for reservation in late spring 2021. Texas residents pay $100 for a reservation, and non-residents pay $200. When you book your pavilion, you’ll be required to pay a $75 deposit. Note that payments are non-refundable, even when bad weather strikes.
As a nature preserve, Arbor Hills is home to a variety of wild animals, including bobcats and coyotes. You should also keep an eye out for chiggers, venomous snakes, and poison ivy. Bring your smartphone with you on the trail, so you can call 911 in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to take a bottle of sunscreen and bug spray with you on the trail, especially during the summer months.
What Not to Bring
There are a few things that you can’t bring to Arbor Hills. Skateboards are prohibited, as are motorized vehicles of any kind, including your kids’ hoverboards.
When you’re roaming the trails, be respectful to your fellow parkgoers. Clean up after your picnics and don’t leave any trash outside of trash bins. Remember that this is a special place that Plano residents visit when they want to get away from the trappings of city life. Help keep Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in the pristine state you found it.
If you want to help in a bigger way, you can also join the Arbor Hills community of volunteers who schedule park clean-ups on a regular basis. If you’re feeling especially altruistic, bring a plastic bag with you on your hike and help clean up any trash you find on the trail.
Where Is Arbor Hills?
You’ll find the entrance to this 200-acre park at 6701 W Parker Road in Plano, Texas.
When to Go
Hours vary throughout the week, so make sure you plan accordingly. The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is open Sunday through Tuesday from 5 a.m. till 11 p.m., on Wednesday from 2 p.m. till 11 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 5 a.m. till 11 p.m.
Park Maintenance and Construction
Check the park’s official website for current information on park maintenance and construction. Construction may affect parking and restroom availability.
On our days off, our team at Huffines Chevrolet Plano loves to cruise the wilderness at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. Where do you get your dose of Mother Nature? Swing by our website and let us know.
Image via Plano.gov