Local Adventures | Trinity Trail & the Gigantic Sycamore Tree


We found out about this gigantic sycamore tree via Chris’ mom’s landscaper. We tried to find a back way into this park but to no avail, so we went the long way from the Highland Park trailhead at Lake Lavon. It is 4.5 miles one way to the tree, but well worth it. This is a multi-use trail so in addition to foot traffic, horses are allowed on the trail.

Where: Trinity Trail at Lake Lavon, Highland Park Trailhead
Trip Distance: ~9 miles round trip.
Coordinates: Entrance is located at 33° 6.191’N 96° 32.583’W
Additional Information: Trinity Trail Riders, Trail Map, Scroll to C2: Highland Park, TWPD site
Bring water and snacks! Some of this trail is in the shade but some sections are in the open, so a hat is recommended

Instead of lugging around my dDSLR I opted for a point and shoot this time around. It was heavenly!

highlandpark
The gate down to this road at this sign (where I put the coordinates for the entrance above) was closed when we arrived. There is a trail head parking lot just to the south of this entrance and you can walk via the trail this way as well, which adds on an additional 0.5 miles. We started from the sign and walked down the road, probably a similar 0.5 miles since we didn’t see the trail head at the time. If the gate is open you can drive down the road, which leads to a boat ramp, and park there, eliminating the extra 0.5 miles. The trail head is easily visible as it is a hole cut in white pipes with a low pipe for horses to jump over.

sunrise
We left early and was at the trail head by 6:45 to beat the Texas heat. The morning was overcast but sunrise was still beautiful.

marker
The trail is marked well and the path is well worn. You shouldn’t get lost!

clematis
I didn’t get a good look at the leaves on this clematis, but I’d guess pitcherii or crispa.

euphorbia

elmrye

thistle
I know most people don’t like thistle but it really is a beautiful weed.

sunflowers

seedfs

cows
A few times the trail parallels cattle pastures, therefore the only large mammals we saw were these kind folks. We did see an armadillo and heard some other rustlings in the brush, but the wildlife was quiet. In the car before we got to the entrance we did see a skunk in someones pasture!

monarda
A lot of Monarda seed heads…not much blooming this time of year.

milkweed

trail
At around 3.5 miles you come to the bottom of the Sycamore loop trail. Either way, the tree is pretty much at the top of the loop.

creek2

trees
We knew we were getting close when we spotted other large sycamores lining the creek the trail began following.

sycamore1
And then we found it!

board
There’s a picnic table and places to tie up horses and would make a great spot to backpack in. The creek does run right by the site but I don’t recommend drinking from it unless you are desperate. There is quite a lot of trash in the creek and I’d also take into account the runoff from local farm fields.

horses

sycamore3

sycamore2
While the tree is a DFW metroplex champion and all the articles I kept finding said it was 3 points bigger than the one in Houston, the champion tree list for Texas still has the one in Houston on record. I’m guessing this is because the split of the trunks of the tree are below dbh (diameter at breast height, how trees are measured). I haven’t found anything else on it. Nonetheless, it’s still a cool tree!

You know how we like our big trees.

tree3

tree2

tree1

creek

5
On the way back we met two of these fellas. We’d seen one before in the Big Thicket and were amazed at their ability to climb up their silk to the limb of the trees.

locust2
On the way out we saw lots of these trees, what I think are honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos.

locust1

We walked fairly fast to get out off the trail before the summer heat came along, a little over 3 hours round trip. In the fall or a cooler time of year I’d take it slower and enjoy the trail more, particularly if it was spring and more blooms were out. Take a picnic lunch for the tables near the tree and enjoy the area when you are out there. About half way into the 4.5 mile stretch you will walk close to what we thought was a water treatment plant, therefore there could be a smell or two as well as some noise from the area, but once you get closer to the tree that goes away.

Don’t forget to hug the tree!

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3 thoughts on “Local Adventures | Trinity Trail & the Gigantic Sycamore Tree

  1. Mom says:

    Cool! Would love to go there.

  2. Jerry says:

    We enjoyed the Highland Park Trail on Labor Day 2011. Very dry but the sycamore tree was fantastic. Well marked trail due to this being an equestrian trail. We had several horses pass by and a couple of riders stopped to chat. Definitely about 10 miles round trip. Thanks for posting. Also, enjoy your photos and have bookmarked your website for further research on nature in DFW. Jery

  3. Wow that is a big tree. Thanks for letting me know about this trail. I will have to try it out sometime.

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