CITY HIKES: The Trinity River Audubon Center (& then the police showed up)

The next hiking trail on my “City Hikes” agenda was the Trinity River Audubon Center so I hit it last week on a warm, sunny day. It was quiet with no other apparent visitors and I was excited to have the place to myself. I was hoping I’d have better luck and see some actual animals this time and the TRAC is known for its bobcats.

This facility is just a few miles from downtown Dallas and is easy to access from the highway. There’s a misconception that it’s a long drive but it isn’t (maybe that was just MY misconception). The TRAC building itself is STUNNING. It made me want to sign up for one of their many programs or get my kids into their Summer Camp.

The trails themselves are a little less exciting. One side of the property is essentially treeless so you never lose sight of the main building. A nearby subdivision is also visible so it never feels like you’re in the “wilderness.” I kept thinking how HOT the hike would be on a summer day as well, since there is little tree-cover. I HEARD some interesting bird calls but I never saw them. The only evidence of wildlife that I witnessed (other than the occasional sparrow or blue jay) was the remains of what appeared to be a fluffy bunny. I got excited, thinking that I MIGHT actually run into a bobcat but that never happened.

I thought I’d have more luck with the trails on the other side of the TRAC, which is wooded, but that’s when a Dallas police helicopter showed up. It was circling near the ground close-by but not over the actual property. I decided it was probably nothing and continued my walk into the trees. I noticed a man walking behind me, which startled me because no one else had been on the trails. The sounds of the helicopter seemed to be getting closer when I came to be a small washed out bridge. Boards had been placed on the ground to allow access but it still seemed a bit unstable. I was trying to navigate this part of the path when I noticed the man behind me had vanished. I’m not going to lie. I had a full-blown moment of “I AM ABOUT TO BE ATTACKED BY SOME PERP WHO IS HIDING OUT IN THESE WOODS!!!

I am not proud of this moment.

I know that I am paranoid to the point of insanity so I kept it together and slowly started making my way out of the woods. The helicopter kept circling and I kept telling myself, “It’s nothing. You’re overreacting.”

I walked to the TRAC building and found two police officers having coffee right inside (to be fair, they were there when I started my hike). I asked what the helicopter was for and they said police were chasing a suspect and that the police dogs had him cornered in the woods. I must’ve gotten a crazy-lady look on my face because he immediately switched to his “Move Along Nothing To See Here” voice and told me it was no biggie. I’d be fine if I just stayed on the other side of the facility.

Yeah, I just went home instead.

This is why I’m giving the Trinity River Audubon Center a 9 out of 10 on my CREEP-O-METER. It’s important to feel safe when you’re a woman hiking alone and police helicopters don’t help.

The hike itself wasn’t very impressive either because it was never challenging and I never once felt like I was truly in the woods.

The TRAC gets an overall C+ from me but I think it would be FAR more enjoyable if you tried one of their programs. They have several options for birders or folks who’d prefer to see the Trinity River by canoe or kayak. I suspect it is all best enjoyed with a guide who can point out things that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Also try to go when police aren’t chasing a suspect nearby. I imagine that makes a huge difference. Here’s the link:

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