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Published February 26th 2017
Escape Plano in Plano
As the saying goes: everything is bigger in Texas; so it's no surprise to learn that a 200 acre nature preserve is nestled in the heart of Plano. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore this large expanse of ground that sprawls across three eco-regions that can be found in North Central Texas. With spring approaching, now is the perfect time to discover the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve.
This peaceful oasis boasts miles of trails, diverse flora and fauna and a large playground. While the three miles of paved trails are popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists, a highlight of the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is the opportunity to get off the beaten track with its three miles of unpaved paths and 2.8 miles of designated off-road cycling trails.
The Blackland Prairie, Riparian Forest and Upland Forest eco-regions are all fascinating areas to explore. Named after its black clay soil, the Blackland Prairie comes alive in spring with colourful blooms. Grasses and wildflowers dominate the prairie. Bluebonnet, winecup, horsemint and daisies are just some of the flowers that carpet the ground while the turkey vultures and scissor-tailed flycatchers soar overhead. Information plaques identify unique features on the trails.
In the Riparian forest, poison ivy and vines wrap around the trees. The jungle-like region follows Indian Creek, which is popular with children who search for the turtles and fish that dwell in the water.
Willows, Bur Oaks and Red Oaks call this area home and egrets, herons and woodpeckers are just some of the birds that inhabit the region.
As the name suggests, Upland Forest is located at a higher elevation, away from the creeks. Cedar elms provide plenty of shade and flowering trees provide colour in spring. The Texas redbud trees are already beginning to display their vibrant pink flowers. Keep a look out for the elusive coyotes and bobcats!
A day can be spent enjoying this sanctuary. The playground, located near the entrance, is popular with young children and barbeque facilities are available. Dogs are welcome to enjoy the trails, providing they are on a lead.