Trail of the Month: August 2005
Katy Trail, Texas
Texas' extension of the Katy Trail isn't quite as long as Missouri's, but that doesn't mean those who surround it are ignoring its presence. Dallas' top rail-trail is located in the densest portion of the city, which connects more than 300,000 residents who live or work within one mile of the path to 125 acres of urban parkland. What is even more impressive is this statistic from the Friends of the Katy Trail, a nonprofit group organized to raise funds for the trail: more than 15,000 walkers, cyclists, skaters and runners use this path weekly. That totals 720,000 users a year. Not bad for a three-mile trail!
Overall the Katy Trail is an attractive 30-acre linear park, which stretches from Airline Road to Lyte Street near the American Airlines Center. Most users begin their journey along the path at the northern terminus near Southern Methodist University, although you can access the trail from 15 different areas along the path. From Airline Road travel southwest on the trail through a tunnel of native pecan, cottonwood and oak trees toward Knox Street. If you're lucky enough to be on the trail at sunset make sure to look just past the trees for a beautiful skyline view of the city.
Once you arrive at Knox Street take a load off and check out some of the interactive artwork. The bollards, which were created by well-known artist Christopher Janney, produce soothing nature sounds and flash colored lights when someone touches or walks by; Janney has done several projects in other states such as New York and Illinois. Benches and a three-tiered water fountain make this a great place to relax.
From Knox Street, head south toward Reverchon Park. This portion of the trail features a second soft-surface trail that parallels the existing path. The new eight-foot wide soft-surface trail is made of recycled running shoes and helps to relieve some of the traffic along the original trail. The Friends of the Katy Trail group is planning to extend this soft-surface trail throughout the rest of the path by raising both public and private funds. One of the ways the group raises money for projects like the soft-surface trail is to have an annual 5k run. Officially billed as the Michelob Ultra 5K, the run occurs the third Thursday of every May and draws many participants. The Friends of the Katy Trail raised more than $70,000 last May and they expect the event to continue to gain in popularity in the coming years.
As you head toward the southern trailhead on Lyte Street, you'll pass the new sports arena, the American Airlines Center. The Friends of the Katy Trail recently received a grant from the arena to light a portion of the trail so Dallas Mavericks and Star's fans can safely use the path as a way to get to and from events. They are expecting to start that project within the year.
Once you arrive at Lyte Street you have completed 3.1 miles along the Katy Trail and are now perfectly positioned to visit the unique and chic West End area of Dallas. Feel free to jump off of the trail and visit the many shops and restaurants located in this area.