Many people think of the entire state of Texas as an unending flat, dry, desert-like realm populated with cowboys, horses, pickup trucks, and cacti. To the contrary, Texas is sufficiently large to encompass a variety of ecosystems. It extends from the high plains of the Llano Estacado in the Texas Panhandle to the alpine mountain region of the Big Bend. It sweeps across the tropical Rio Grande Valley and across the coastal plains of the Gulf Coast. Further inland finds the forested regions of East Texas and further west, the Texas Hill Country.
Contrary to the stereotype, much of Texas – not just the Texas Hill Country – consists of rolling hills and valleys. And although West Texas and the Texas Panhandle appear flat along much of the interstates, travelers through those areas will find a considerable change in altitude as they progress across the state, and if they travel far enough, they will see mesas and mountain vistas.
In an effort to expand people’s impressions of our fair state, the Texas Historical Commission is charged with educating the public about the history of our great state and encouraging tourism throughout the state. The Commission devised a series of travel routes, the Texas Heritage Trails Program. Each route has a regional theme for the interested tourist to follow, in whole or in part: Texas Lakes Trail, Texas Forts Trail, Texas Forest Trail, Texas Independence Trail, Texas Mountain Trail, Texas Plains Trail, Texas Pecos Trail, Texas Brazos Trail, Texas Tropical Trail, and the Texas Hill Country Trail.
The Texas Lakes Trail covers North East Texas and is so named for the numerous lakes dotting the area, created by impounding sections of the Brazos and Trinity Rivers and their tributaries. The Lakes Trail is subdivided into four areas and encompasses the greater Dallas – Fort Worth area and surrounding counties. The Southeastern Corridor includes Dallas and its neighbors: Cedar Hill, Mesquite, Waxahachie, Ennis, Corsicana, Athens, Canton, and Edgewood. The Northeastern Corridor continues with historic cities and towns of North Texas from Farmers Branch, Carrollton, Plano, and McKinney to the Red River areas of Sherman, Denison, Bonham, and Paris, as well as Sulphur Springs, Farmersville, and Greenville.
Dallas highlights featured along the Texas Lakes Trail include the Fair Park (the home of the annual State Fair of Texas) and the museums located there, as well as the “Old Red” Courthouse/Museum, the Adolphus Hotel, Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum, the Majestic Theatre, the Arts District, the McKinney Avenue Trolley, and Old City Park.
So if you want to see what Texas is really like, enjoy a drive along the Texas Lakes Trail, or choose another one of the Heritage Trails and see for yourself! Pamphlets and maps with suggested routes – which are also marked with special Texas Heritage Trails signs – are available through the Texas Historical Commission.