|Bikerafting through the Trinity River Standing Wave Whitewater Upper Canoe Bypass in Dallas, Texas|
|Trinity River Standing Wave Sketch circa 1998 (City of Dallas)|
The Trinity River Project could be seen as a blank slate yet to make a mark on the city that surrounds it. There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about how many of these projects can be woven together into a twenty mile journey up and down the Trinity River. Limited only by your own imagination there are ample opprotunities for adventure. It's fun to see these renderings come to life, whether they are a signature bridge, a bike path, nature center or whitewater park.
|Evan and Will of Big City Bike Rafts|
At first glance one might see inflatable boats as a mediocre way to travel on water. These are no ordinary boats. Built by Alpacka Raft in Mancos, CO, they are the preferred choice for many cross country adventure travelers. Weighing in at five pounds and rolling up to dimensions the size of a loaf of bread, they allow for real flexibility in travel. Jonathan Waterman, author of the book published by National Geographic Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River used an Alpacka on his 1450 mile journey from the source of the Colorado River on the snowpack in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park all the way through Arizona's Grand Canyon and down to Mexico's Baja. Impressive boats with a load capacity in excess of 350 pounds and good steering manners.
|Will giving a demo on assembling the raft|
The boats don't carry through with as much of a gliding coast like a canoe but make up for it with added maneuverability and less draft it seems.
The Route Downriver-- Katy Trail Ice House to the Audubon Center
There must be thousands of people who use the Katy Trail on a Saturday. Few venture far off it. The trail itself serves as a great avenue for reaching other parts of Dallas. The Arts District, the American Airlines Center, the Audubon Center! Originally the MKT railroad, the old line cuts a bee-line right to the old river channel.
Above is the Google Map Route for the trip down the river starting at the Katy Trail Icehouse and heading south across the Continental Street Viaduct. The return trip was similar and can be found further down in the post. For those that keep score with their GPS, I believe Will of Big City Bike Rafts holds the Strava KOM for the route.
Relevant benchmark mileage points:
5.5 miles from the Katy Trail Ice house to the Trinity River Standing Wave.
6.2 miles down river from Standing Wave to Loop 12. 11.8 total miles from Ice House to Loop 12
4.7 miles from loop 12 to the Audubon Center. 16.5 miles total from Ice House to Audubon Center.
On walls that once housed the Italian Restaurant Cremona are chalkboards that line the exterior. Entitled "Before I Die I Want To.." the chicken scratched scribble of strangers profess things they always plan on doing but might not get around to in this lifetime. We were set on ours.........
Getting to the river is a snap. Down Continental and across the bridge one can be on the levee perimeter road in mere minutes. Open year round to non-motorized traffic the levee road is slowly becoming known as a great training ground for off-road cyclists and running groups looking for softer surface training.
|Trinity River Levee Perimeter Road with the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in the background|
|Assembling rafts and disassembling bikes|
The Dallas Wave -- Running the Trinity River Project's Standing Wave
|Launching from the Portage Ramp and approaching the Standing Wave|
The scrawny meandering wooded stream known to many as the Trinity River does not exist in the first one hundred yards downstream of the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. Here a canoe portage ramp exists serving as a bookend of where the Trinity River levee floodway ends and the untamed wild river begins. Whitewater.
Video summary of the trip, including negotiating the Standing Wave
|Taking the purpose built canoe bypass on the Standing Wave Project|
|Upper Wave slackwater area of the Trinity River Standing Wave|
|Negotiating the Lower Canoe Bypass|
|Lower Standing Wave looking upstream Corinth Street Viaduct in far background|
Beyond is the scenery of which Dallas can now boast, the sort of natural areas that people just don't see on their way down I-45 to Houston.
|Approaching the Cedar Crest Bridge|
The Cedar Crest Bridge is the first bridge on the float one reaches about 1/3 of a mile downstream of the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. Soon, the Corps of Engineers will radically alter the woods here, removing most of the trees to build wetland cells. It has already begun to some extent with the removal of a forested area on the southwest side of the bridge. Hope they know what they are doing!
|MKT Trestle circa 1905|
Hey, it's the Katy again. The next bridge up is rumored to be one of the oldest railroad bridges still in use that spans the Trinity, the MKT railroad bridge. Hidden from any street view one can only see it from the river. Interesting old bridge, the random train horns from locomotives crossing here keep South Dallas residents up at night.
Some of the more detailed history and backstory of this stretch of river can be found in a previous post from November on a canoe trip with a historian, wildlife expert, two master naturalists and a pig blood drone pilot Exploring the Trinity By Canoe.
Beyond the railroad trestle, the river exhibits a cross section of the sediments that underlie the Blackland Prairie plains, an apron of gravel debris laid down anciently by immense rivers coursing out of the mountain west when those peaks were young and high. Behind the old Procter and Gamble Plant the gravels here point to a much older time.
|Historic Miller's Ferry Site|
|William B. Miller|
The namesake of the crossing is William B. Miller an early Dallas pioneer who made a lasting mark on much of Dallas as a whole. An enterprising businessman on the south bank of the Trinity, he needed a ferry crossing to reach Dallas. In turn, Dallas needed a reliable ferry crossing to reach Hutchins, Corsicana and points south. Miller's Ferry road still exists today in southern Dallas County and served as the piggybacked route for the first railroad, first highway and first interstate into Dallas.
|Millermore Mansion in Old City Park|
Through Rochester Park and up White Rock Creek
|Navigating the mouth of White Rock Creek, looking upstream|
|Remote canoeists camp on White Rock Creek|
The sheltered creek mouth here makes for an excellent stop and makes for an excellent overnight canoe camp spot on the river, high and away from the bank.
Take Out at Loop 12
We took out at the Loop 12 Boat Ramp where the Trinity River Trailhead begins and travels through Joppa Preserve on a 4 mile paved path that loops around to the Trinity River Audubon Center. From here it's all bikes. Dismantling and packing boats and assembling bikes on a jaunt down the river to the Audubon Center.
|Trinity River Trail Bike Path Bridge Over The Trinity River|
|Trinity Trailhead on the Audubon Center entrance way|
Speaking of the Audubon Center, we were met by Ben Jones the director of the Audubon Center and a staff member in the center's breezeway. Will and Evan's photo made the Audubon Center's blog:
Ben Jones mentioned that this day in particular was a peak day for the annual hawk migration and it clicked with us since we had seen so many hawks while on the river. The final count of hawks for our party was in the ballpark of two dozen hawks and two Bald Eagles, one mature adult and one juvenile.
|Red-Tailed Hawk near Miller's Ferry on the Trinity River|
Google Map Route Return Route Above is the return route used in the trip. Utilizing the Trinity River Trail from the Audubon Center to Loop 12. The next section follows the crude doubletrack of the Wetland Cells abutting the Freedman's community of Joppa to Highway 310 at Miller's Ferry. Crossing the bridge and taking South Lamar through the Bon-Ton, Cedars and eventually Downtown Dallas back to the Katy Trail.
14 miles, one way. If someone wished to ride mountain bikes, a cyclocross bike or even a beach cruiser from Uptown or Downtown to the Audubon Center this is the very best route to take. We took this route back to make it as clear and concise as possible for anyone else wishing to replicate the route. Naturally, there are many other side routes, detours and trails one can take off this route. I think one will find that the generosity, friendliness, in its width and scope among the people there is unique to Dallas. It is good-people country.
|Evan riding the Wetland Cells approaching Highway 310/Lamar|
|Lamar Street under the Dallas Convention Center|
Lamar has become newly marked in late 2012 and early 2013 with shared bike lane symbols from the Convention Center to the Katy Trail. We used the marked lanes on our ride past John Neely Bryan's cabin site in the distance and through Victory Park back to the Katy Trail. Great adventure. One you can take too.
Seems that much of this kind of thing is new to Dallas and still lacks an anchor point for exploring down the river. The next few months are the very best time to visit the Great Trinity Forest.
New projects like Dallas County's Gateway Park seen below at Dowdy Ferry and I-20 will open up river access to the far reaches of Dallas this spring. The large fishing piers, horse trailer parking and trails will open up a large part of the Great Trinity Forest that few have ever seen. Gateway Park will connect with the Trinity Trail near Audubon Center within the next year.
For those seeking high adventure, rolling your own way and no hand holding, the Great Trinity Forest and the Trinity River itself serve as a great venue to really push your limits. It continues to amaze me that more people do not get down here and explore. On this fine Saturday, other than the sole fisherman who drowns worms at the wastewater treatment plant outlet and a guy with a stuck 4x4 in the Wetland Cells, we saw ZERO people. Amazing.
|Dallas County Gateway Park at Dowdy Ferry and I-20|