Another prairie grows in Plano
The City of Plano established the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve to protect a bit of the original landscape from encroaching development. This sign provides information on the three ecoregion you will find in the park--Blackland Prairie, Riparian Forest, and Upland Forest. A detailed description of each is at the bottom of the website.
The day we visited was a typical north Texas summer day: hot, sunny, and windy. Our goal was to get some exercise so these photos were taken on the fly with my smaller camera.
It was definitely windy
At first glance this field of bluestem grass in the Blackland Prairie looks uninteresting
A closer look reveals wildflowers like button flowers, thistle, gaillardia, and milkweed pods
Prairie grass similar to millet
Beyond the prairie we entered the cool, shady Riparian Forest zone. Creeks with water always draw me in because our creeks only have water immediately after a rain.
Waterfalls provided a nice natural sound
I was particularly interested in the limestone cutaway along the trail. Even though we are nearly 300 miles from home, this is very similar to my own yard with a thin layer of soil over rock. It's amazing how roots of established plants make their way down through the rock bringing soil with them.
Then we headed to the Upland Forest area which was an even bigger surprise than the preserved prairie. I had not pictured a forested area in the vast suburbs of north Dallas.
It's an excellent place to walk with paved and unpaved trails for walking and separate designated mountain bike trails.
In addition to trees, the Upland Forest had clearings with meadows like this one
I'm not sure this blue salvia is native here, but it looked good with the queen anne's lace.
Butterflies at work were sheltered from the winds here in the meadows
At the top of one trail is this nice picnic pavilion, there's also a nearby parking lot for those who choose not to walk up.
A few more observations along the trail included this very knobby tree. I tried looking it up, but couldn't find any information.
The summit has an observation tower overlooking the park and some of the nearby houses.
Completing our walk we headed back down to the car and looked back at the stone tower from the trail below
Along the way my sister-in-law pointed out this savanna-style prairie her children loved to visit because it looked like the Africa they knew from their favorite Lion King video. The youngest is a sophomore in college now, but they still enjoy walking here when they are home.
It was a fun place for a good walk and to explore.