Every year, the folks of Cedar Hill should have a massive festival. Two, maybe three days, with rides, funnel cakes, face painting, everything. The honored guest would be the Cretaceous period, and the party would be called something like the “Cretaceous Carnival” or “Bodacious Cretaceous.”
Because during those 79 million years, glaciers scraped across southern Dallas County and dropped soil and rocks and god knows what else into a formation now known as the White Rock Escarpment, and created a little Hill Country less than 25 minutes from downtown Dallas. Later, as the Western Interior Seaway receded, countless microscopic skeletons were deposited in the area, creating the Austin Chalk, the brilliant white layer that greets visitors on their way to Cedar Hill’s unfair collection of the region’s best trails.
The gem of Cedar Hill is Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, created in 2011 through the generosity of Wild Birds Unlimited owners Kim and David Hurt. They’d purchased the land for a house, then recognized its unique—and, in some cases, endangered—beauty. Instead of the house, they opened the land to the public, allowing hikers to climb a 1.65-mile trail, one that affords spectacular views of Joe Pool Lake below. Fallen Eastern red cedar sprays cushion the hike and make it feel like a walk in the clouds. Visitors should also be on the lookout for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and other rarities; Dogwood officials say this is the only place in the world where the black-chinned hummingbird nests in flowering dogwoods.
Dogwood Canyon is just a piece of a 3,000-acre greenbelt that stretches across southern Dallas County. Right across Belt Line Road, Cedar Ridge Preserve welcomes hikers and bikers, and warns them of a variety of snakes that may greet them. And Cedar Hill State Park, the fourth-most popular in the state, abuts Dogwood Canyon to the west.
So thanks, Cretaceous period. We just don’t say it enough. — Bradford Pearson
- Median Age: 32.7
- Population Growth (2000-2013): 45.40%
- Population Density: 1,303 people per square mile
- Students Passing STARR K-11: 73%
- Average SAT Score: 1342
- Students Taking SAT/ACT: 77.50%
- Instruction Spending Per Student: $4,066
- Violent Crime Rate: 2.28 per 1,000 residents
- Non-Violent Crime Rate: 35.42 per 1,000 residents
- Average Price of Homes Sold (2013): $149,558
- Sales Price Change (2011-2013): 11.40%
- Owner-Occupied Homes: 73.90%
- Walkability (New York City is an 88): 14