Wild DFW


Wild DFW: Explore the Amazing Nature Around Dallas-Fort Worth

by Amy Martin

Texas longhorns by Chris Emory.

“There’s no real nature in North Texas.” Oh really? Hardwood bottomland forests. Well-preserved swaths of the “cast iron forest” of Eastern Cross Timbers. Soaring limestone escarpments and quizzical cuestas. Vast wetlands and swamps. Rich riparian corridors along rivers and large creeks. Rare remnants of wildflower-filled Blackland and Fort Worth Prairies. Three immense preserves from 2600 to 3600 acres, plus the 6000-acre Great Trinity Forest. Two large lake-based state parks. A huge national wildlife refuge for water-loving birds. North Central Texas has all this and more. 

Travel down the many forks of the Trinity River—Clear, East, Elm, and West—and their reservoirs to discover the watery roadmap that shapes our terrain and is home to a 127-mile-long nationally recognized paddling trail. North Central Texas is an ecotone that transitions the eastern deciduous forest into the western plains. Its astounding ecological diversity arises from many tilted bedrock layers ranging from 75 to 350 million years old, the multitude of soil types which that generates, and the wide-ranging flora those foster. The river ties it all together. 

Wild DFW’s front section on natural history and ecology also covers:

  • The wild ways of nature after dark.
  • Geology forged by an ancient inland sea.
  • Invasive species that threaten the region’s ecology.
  • How to turn your backyard into a nature sanctuary.
  • Epic migrations of birds and insects through the area.
  • Native wildlife and the native flora that sustains them.
  • The citizen scientists who are surveying nature for further study.
  • Weather accentuated by tornadoes, ice storms, drought, and floods.
  • Urban creeks that provide an entry to nature for many, especially children. 

Wild DFW includes a field guide detailing over 120 species of interesting animals, insects, and plants, with fascinating facts and tidbits for regaling your friends. These flora and fauna populate the astounding adventures section covering 25 of North Texas’s finest nature parks and preserves. Read about the author’s hikes through these spaces, led by volunteers and managers who know the land the best and share their inspiring stories. Gain insight into North Texas as never before while enjoying practical tips and complete information for exploring these outdoor treasures. 

Wild DFW Table of Contents


  • Wild Dallas-Fort Worth
  • Where Forest Meets Prairie
  • Bound by the Trinity
  • Shores of an Ancient Ocean
  • Tip of Tornado Alley 
  • Native Species
  • Exotic Species
  • Migration
  • Creeks and Watersheds 
  • Backyards
  • After Dark
  • Citizen Science

FIELD GUIDE—North Texas Species to Know 

  • Birds
  • Insects and Spiders
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians, Fish, and Crustaceans
  • Plants


Adventure Advice

Big Creeks & Rivers of Eastern Dallas County

  • Spring Creek: Spring Creek Forest Preserve
  • White Rock Creek: White Rock Lake Park 
  • Oak Creek: Piedmont Ridge 
  • East Fork: John Bunker Sands Wetland Center

Wild Lands of the North

  • Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge   
  • Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary 
  • Parkhill Prairie  

Big Creeks of Southern Collin County

  • Rowlett Creek: Connemara Meadow  
  • Rowlett Creek: Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

Great Trinity Forest

  • Trinity River Audubon Center and Trinity Forest Trail. 
  • Ned & Genie Fritz Buckeye Trail and Bonton Woods  
  • Holland Trail 
  • Goat Island Preserve 

Southwest Dallas Escarpment

  • Cedar Ridge Preserve  
  • Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center 

Elm Fork of the Trinity River

  • Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center  
  • Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area  
  • Ray Roberts Lake State Park: Isle du Bois 

Where the West Begins

  • Bob Jones Nature Center and Walnut Grove Trail 
  • Southwest Nature Preserve
  • Tandy Hills Natural Area

West and Clear Forks of the Trinity

  • West Fork: Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge 
  • Clear Fork: Richardson Tract Prairie
  • West Fork: Trinity River Float Trip  
  • West Fork: River Legacy Park and Village Creek Drying Beds  

Far Flung Adventures