By Sharon Kurtz ~
Looking for inviting walking trails surrounded by trees, water and wildlife? The Trinity River Audubon Center offers everyone the opportunity to connect with nature and experience the outdoors.
Located just 10 miles south of downtown Dallas, the area serves as the gateway to the Great Trinity Forest, the largest urban bottomland hardwood forest in the United States.
Shelly White, the director of the Center, believes a walk on one of the trails can take people into a whole other world.
“One of the greatest things about this place is that feeling you get here,” she said. “If you go outside, it’s quiet, you hear the birds sing, you may see a little critter or two, and it is so peaceful. I don’t feel that Dallas has another place that can bring peace like that.”
The Center’s 120-acres were built on a former landfill, now a reclaimed haven for the more than 50 resident species of birds and other wildlife in Dallas’ increasingly urbanized metropolitan area. Primarily used for hiking, walking, and birdwatching, five miles of trails lead visitors along the Trinity River and through hardwood forests, ponds, wetlands, and prairie ecosystems – simply one of the best escapes from the bustle of the city.
Since its inception in 2008, The Trinity River Audubon Center has been welcoming visitors to its sanctuaries and offering academic and public programs throughout the year. The LEED-certified building is uniquely designed to draw you outside. The stunning structure mimics a bird rising into flight over the forest.
The Center is used as a living laboratory and serves as an outdoor classroom for students of all levels to have experiences in nature.
“The solitude and peacefulness that you can feel here can’t be beaten,” said White. “You’ve got to get out and experience what I am telling you. It is truly amazing.”
Leaving the Center and crossing the elevated wooden walkway that spans the surrounding wetlands, I found myself immediately enveloped in nature. The reflection of the Center was shimmering on the water’s surface, seeming to meld into the surrounding land.
As I meandered the winding trails, the only sounds were of softly chirping birds and the rumblings of leaves in the wind. I encountered tooth-marked toppled trees strewn about the edge of the wetlands — evidence of industrious beavers nearby — and a fat red-breasted robin hopping from branch to branch. The towering cedars, reaching for the sky, swayed as filtered morning sunlight danced across the forest floor.
A peaceful oasis so close to Downtown, yet hiding in plain sight, Trinity River Audubon Center is a nature-lovers dream, a calming refuge from the hustle and bustle of Dallas.
The Center offers something for everyone, including guided nature walks for visitors of all ages, academic lectures, workshops, exhibits, nature clubs, and more. CLICK HERE for a complete list of activities.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER:
Sean Fitzgerald is a Dallas-based nature, conservation and travel photographer whose work is found in magazines, museums, and corporate and private art collections across the country. His conservation work focuses on endangered ecosystems in Texas and the southwest. Sean is a past president of the North American Nature. Photography Association. You can see more of his images at seanfitzgerald.com.