Friday, May 27, 2011

Lower White Rock Creek Valley Trails

White Rock Creek runs south from Dallas' best-known land form, White Rock Lake. But for all the popularity of the old city reservoir, the creek that first had the name remains scarcely recognized. Once the water of the creek leaves the White Rock Lake Spillway in dramatic fashion it begins a slow and methodical march towards the Trinity River.

Texas Horned Lizard in Dallas at Devon Anderson Park

Piedmont Ridge Trail Lower White Rock Creek

Lower White Rock Creek, on its way to the vast hardwood bottoms of the Great Trinity Forest, runs nearly unknown through some of the city's best natural areas and most historic neighborhoods. This is the land that the Caddo and Comanche consider sacred ground. This is the land that sustained the first pioneers that settled Dallas. This is the land where Sam Houston and his men camped on the way to work a peace treaty. You do not have to look in a book or read accounts of the sites to imagine what it must have been like. Using these trails you can stand on the ancient sacred ground of the Comanche, wander across the old pioneer Beeman and Bryan homesteads, stand at the spring where President Sam Houston camped. All of it is still there, untouched. Dallas over the last century and a half grew up around it, oddly leaving it in it's original condition.

Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea (Asteraceae) in Lower White Rock Creek meadow

Video overview of trails:

The Lower White Rock Creek Trails are comprised of an ever expanding 4 mile soft surface trail network spanning three different City of Dallas Parks. JJ Beeman/Scyene Overlook on Scyene Road, Grover Keeton Park which includes Piedmont Ridge Trail and Devon Anderson Park south of Bruton Road. The JJ Beeman Trail starts near the corner of Lawnview and Scyene near the DART Lawnview Station and continues east to the Scyene Overlook. From there the trail roughly follows an Austin Chalk Escarpment high above the White Rock Creek Valley. One can see the VA Hospital in South Dallas, Duncanville, Hutchins as well as Downtown Dallas. The trail continues through Grover Keeton Park, up Piedmont Ridge, across Bruton and into Devon Anderson Park. 

Scyene Overlook with view of Great Trinity Forest

JJ Beeman Trail Scyene Overlook Trail Junction

Piedmont Ridge Trailhead Grover Keeton Park

Access to the trails are easiest from the Grover Keeton Parking Lot on Jim Miller Road; Devon Anderson Park on Umphress Road or via DART on the Green Line to Lawnview. Scyene Overlook is also just a quick 15 minute or less ride from White Rock Lake.


North Trailhead for Scyene Overlook:
2800 Renda Street Dallas

Grover Keeton and Gateway Park:
2300 Jim Miller Road

Devon Anderson Park:
1700 Eastcliff

White Rock Creek Trails Map --green dot notes Lawnview DART Rail Station on  Scyene. Yellow dots mark formal trailheads for Scyene Overlook, Piedmont Ridge Trail and Devon Anderson.

Some sections of the trails feature steep switchbacks, loose rocks and off camber surfaces. Caution should be taken when hiking or mountain biking these areas. Technical climbs and descents along with some steep dropoffs warrant diligence if you are riding a mountain bike. Some sections will require dismounts by even experienced riders.  

Devon Anderson Park sign noting distances to Comanche Storytelling Place .2 mile and one of the overlooks .4 mile.

Piedmont Ridge Overlook

Comanche Storytelling Place Devon Anderson Park Dallas, Texas

The Comanche Story Telling Place at Devon Anderson Park has been identified by the Comanche Nation as a sacred holy ground and has been identified as a candidate for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The natural limestone shaped amphitheatre was believed to have been used by Native Americans in the area prior to European settlement. Gateway Park was also the site of an Indian Marker tree, over 300 years old that served as a guide to Native Americans in the area. This tree was lost in 1998 during a thunderstorm.


  1. I got off the train at Lawnview today with the intention of finding this trail when a cop stopped me in the parking lot and forced me away from the forest. She didn't believe there was a trail back there. It doesn't help to have access to the GTF at the train station if we can't get to it.

  2. Sorry to hear that David. Next time you can ride from the Lawnview Station along the Scyene shoulder up the hill some distance till you reach a DART access road. It has a bar gate across it and leads down a dirt road. Enter the trail there. This section is known as the JJ Beeman Trail. Many sections of this trail have become overgrown this spring and might be hard to follow.

  3. Are you talking about the road right across from Grover Pass? I see there's a bus stop right in front of it and two routes that go directly from the station to there. I hike on foot so that may be the preferable way to get there rather than walk in this neighborhood. Thanks for responding.

  4. Yes, the dirt road on the south side of Scyene near Glover Pass. Just head down the dirt road there, hang a left before the railroad tracks. You can also head a little further up Scyene to the east before you reach Renda. You should see some vertical wooden posts in the ground there along the brush line. That trail entrance will take you directly to Scyene Overlook. If you were getting there via DART you could also start/finish at the Lake June Station. The trail terminates at Devon Anderson Park at Devon Circle. It's about 1000 feet to the train station from there. I actually think that walking/riding this trail might be better accomplished by walking South to North. Starting at Lake June and walking to Lawnview. At Bruton Road the trail can be hard to find if you are moving north to south. The trail is also somewhat difficult to ride on a mountain bike, not so much due to the terrain but the way the trail is built. Short turns and steep but narrow switchbacks make for a lot of walking of your bike. I'd leave the bike at home if you could. Walk it instead.

  5. That sounds like a good idea going from Lake June to Lawnview but is that a safe neighborhood to walk through?

  6. When I have been down there on the weekends or the evenings...there are always plenty of children around playing in the streets. Pretty safe. Neighborhood might not be the best but with all the kids under 12 around, I think it's not that bad. Once you get on the trail, you will probably not see any people.

  7. I made the journey today from Lake June to Lawnview. I had no problems walking through the neighborhood though all the barred doors and windows were a little unsettling. Getting on the trail though, I had a little difficulty as there were a lot of fallen trees and overgrowth. I lost the trail at one point and depended on my phone and your map to lead me back to it. I finally used a vine to climb up the steep embankment from the creek and found myself at the Story Telling Place. From then on, the trail was easy to follow until I got close to Lawnview where I lost it again. It was well worth it though. This trail probably provided the best scenery of any part of the Great Trinity Forest I've been to. I had to skip Scyene Overlook because it was getting dark but I saw two other overlooks with breathtaking views. The trip, including the train rides, took about 6 hours with about 3 1/2 hours of hiking. I plan to go back when it cools off next fall. Thanks for posting a trail map and helping me plan this out.

  8. Thanks for the info. Tried the Gateway Trail from Keeton Park today. Found the trailhead easy enough (behind the golf course clubhouse, right at the back of the parking lot). But about a half mile in, got stuck in 6-foot grass, and then found my way to a Dart Rail crossing, but no sign of the trail on the other side. Turned around and headed to Piedmont Ridge Trail. Took some searching, but I found the trailhead at the south end of the park, across a field (from the main entrance, look left, to the treeline). The trail was nice until I crossed Bruton Road. Couldn't find the trail on the other side, so I headed back. Then drove up to the Scyene Overlook trailhead at Renda Street. The parking lot was closed, so I parked on the street, just out of view of the no parking sign, and crossed my fingers. That trail was very easy to follow, except there are countless spurs and alternate routes and storm washes that mimic trails. They all basically lead the same way, but if you're not paying attention, you could end up going in circles. Never did find the connection back to the gateway trail.

  9. To get to the Scyene Overlook trail from the intersection of the Gateway Trail with the Dart Rail crossing, take a right along the road and cross over the Dart Rail line. Very shortly after crossing the Dart line, you will see a trail on the right side of the road. Following that trail will take you to a fork (marked by a sign), with one route leading to the overlook and the other route leading to the trailhead at Renda.

    Finding the continuation of the Peidmont Ridge Trail after its crossing of Bruton Road is a little trickier. Cross Bruton Road and head left along the shoulder. After maybe thirty yards you should see the trail, making a fairly sharp right turn from the road. After crossing through some brush, the trail is pretty well marked through the end.

  10. June 8, 2012: Due to the confusion and overgrown nature of the trail at Bruton road, I have marked with flagging tape the two trail entrances on the north and south sides of Bruton. I also flagged some of the "question mark" areas of the trail south of Bruton Road. Also cut back some of the overgrown spots and deadfall. Should be no problem finding the trail sections now near Bruton.

  11. Thanks for that. When I was walking it, I was wishing I'd had some tape to flag certain spots with myself.

  12. What a wonderful site! Can't wait for cooler weather, so I can find the trail. I plan to share your information and site with fellow board members of For the Love of the Lake.

    I ran across your site trying to find out if there are deer around White Rock Lake. I could swear I saw a deer this morning(6 A.M.) while walking in my neighborhood near the lake. Do you know if there are deer at WRL? Thanks in advance!

    1. Lucan,

      Deer have been found as far north as the White Rock Creek Spillway as recently as 2010. Two bucks were fighting there in a gated community off Garland Road, one buck fled, the other buck got its rack stuck in a fence and had to be euthanized.

      The Lower White Rock Creek Trails are really not far from White Rock Lake. The same white rock escarpment that the Arboretum is built upon can be followed all the way down to where it reaches the Trinity at McCommas Bluff.

  13. love everything about this blog. plan on doing the commanche storytelling place hike this weekend. is there a trailhead at devon anderson park on umphress? or where exactly is the trailhead.

  14. Tried yesterday (12/1/13) without luck to find the trail head at the Lawnview Dart Station. There are presently no clear trail head markings or any visible trail at the Lawnview Dart Station. Was able to enter at Renda & Lacywood, but access to the overlook was completely overgrown too.
    Send in the boy scouts to do some clean up.

    1. I had the same problem today at the Dart station.

  15. I tried starting at the Lawnview station today with the intention of hiking south towards the Scyne overlook. I was not able to find the beginning of a trail anywhere around that area! I did find stinky sewer lines, trash piles, & urban ruin! I was very frustrated! I loaded my dogs up in the car and sought out the trail beginning at Randa Rd. It was a wonderful hike! We hiked to the Scyne overlook. I was sad to see the litter on the trail and in the washes tho. The view at the overlook was breathtaking! I plan on going back again and starting at a different point because i still want to see the rest of the trails. It looks like a wonderful opportunity for community service!