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The marina/lake are usually pretty crowded here, especially on weekends.
Cedar Hill State Park
Closest available address
Park is located 20 miles southwest of Dallas off of FM 1382.
Park is open 6-10. The Penn Farm is open 8-5.
Best time to visit
Cedar Hill State Park is one of the busiest state parks in Texas. It is an easy drive from Dallas. The 1,856 acre park is very popular for mountain biking, boating, swimming and camping. Cedar Hill was developed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1970s at the same time the Corps built Joe Pool Lake, a 7740 acre reservoir bordering the park.
The park was previously a farm and was operated by the Penn family for over 100 years. The family kept the farm free of most development and also preserved a small tract of native blackland prairie, a critically endangered habitat in North Texas. The park is part of the White Rock Escarpment geological formation, which makes the terrain more hilly and varied.
There are 3 mountain biking trails: a 3 mile intermediate option, a more difficult 8 mile trail and a 12 mile expert trail. The 3 mile trail was generally in good shape, though a few parts were eroded. It has a variety of twists and turns and a few moderate hills. Bikers and hikers share the trails, so vigilance is prudent to help avoid collisions. From a hiking perspective, the 3 mile trail was the best option even with bikers because most of the other trails were poorly maintained and overgrown with brush. Note that park trails can close after even a moderate rain so factor that into your plans. From a historical perspective, a number of Penn farm buildings built between 1850 and 1950 have been preserved and are worth visiting. The interpretive signs and old farm machinery are interesting. This park can get very busy on weekends and in nice weather when the throngs come to picnic, swim or go boating. Cedar Hill gets high marks for biking and the Penn farm site, a low score for hiking and a mediocre rating for swimming and picnicking due to crowds.
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