White Rock Lake Trail. (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

White Rock Lake Trail. (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

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White Rock Lake Trail (Map courtesy of the City of Dallas at happytrailsdallas.com/trail-maps)

Click to see a larger map of White Rock Lake Trail at happytrailsdallas.com/trail-maps  (Map courtesy of the City of Dallas)

The 9.2-mile trail connects at West Lawther under Northwest Highway to the White Rock Creek Trail and encircles one of our city’s main attractions, White Rock Lake.

Trekkers pass the historic Bath House Cultural Center; the picturesque spillway; the old filter building and a dog park along Mockingbird Lane, which recently received close to $1 million in improvements. A stretch of new trail opened on the lake’s east side last summer, after Dallas’ Park and Recreation Board and Dallas City Council in 2014 approved about $1.2 million for the next phase of upgrades. Improvements to the White Rock Lake Trail steadily have occurred over the last decade. The west side, for years now, provides a wide, smooth lakeside trail that runs parallel to the city street accommodating faster cyclists and motor vehicles. East of the lake, however, nearly all traffic, both wheel and foot, has long utilized the public road which runs along the shoreline, in lieu of a narrow, crumbling path above it. Cars, runners, strollers and cyclists all share space, often creating hairy situations. The new pedestrian path from the base of the Mockingbird Bridge to the Bath House Cultural Center, about a mile, stands to quell the chaos. The Dallas Park Department rebuilt the new 12-feet-wide trail over the existing beat-up route as opposed to constructing a new shoreline trail as it did west of the lake. The revamped section has been open for the past year (though many pedestrians don’t seem to have discovered it yet). It offers impeccable views of the water and Dallas skyline and more shade than the road as well as new rest areas with seating at Boy Scout Hill, Big Thicket and Bath House. Project manager Richard Stauffer says minor changes were made to the original plan; a realignment of the trail behind Big Thicket was allowed to spare an owl habitat, for example. Native prairie grasslands also were protected throughout construction, he notes. Insider tip: on the west side of the lake, just north of the Santa Fe Trail connection, step off the beaten path and explore a circuit of nature trails at the Old Fish Hatchery, whose entrance you’ll find between the spillway and the pump station.