When summer gets hot — and it's going to get really, really hot — the best way to keep cool is to spend lots of time in the lakes of D-FW. There are more lakes than you might expect, too, so check out a few on our list.
Note: Always check water levels before planning a visit to local lakes. Occasionally attractions close due to heavy rainfall or other natural events.
White Rock Lake
This 1,015-acre lake, originally developed as a water source for Dallas, was once a creek where buffalo roamed. Today, you can try the 9-mile hike-and-bike trail or visit the Audubon Society bird-watching area and wetlands site. You can fish for catfish, sunfish and bass (license required). Four-legged friends might appreciate a romp at the dog park with separate areas for big and little canines.
Kayakpower.com and White Rock Paddle Co. rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards; Dallas Bike Works and Richardson Bike Mart rent bikes, with Dallas Bike Works coordinating rides, too. The Dallas Arboretum offers excellent views of the lake and photo ops galore in a splendid natural setting. The aptly named volunteer group For the Love of the Lake leads programs and coordinates opportunities to preserve and enhance the lake as an urban oasis.
One special attraction is the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, a lush 2,000-acre wildlife-management area featuring bottomland forests, prairies and wetlands, as well as more than 280 species of birds. There are 6 miles of hiking trails and fishing, kayaking, canoeing, bird-watching and camping opportunities.
The 29,592-acre Lewisville Lake is bustling with activities, and it borders multiple cities — The Colony, Hickory Creek, Lake Dallas, Highland Village and others. Examples? Little Elm Park Beach offers an open sand beach, sand volleyball court and bring-your-own-wood fire pits. DFW Surf offers paddleboard classes and rentals, including SUP paddleboard yoga (yep, that’s yoga on a paddleboard on the water).
Lake Ray Hubbard
This 22,745-acre lake is in Dallas, Kaufman, Collin, and Rockwall counties, just north of Forney. One option for fun is Sail With Scott’s group, shared and private sailing cruises on a catamaran. There are great fishing opportunities, and ramps and other services at other city parks and private marinas around the lake; some are free, others charge fees.
One highlight offered by the city of Rockwall is the free Concerts by the Lake Series, featuring lakeside tribute and party bands.
Ray Roberts Lake
One of the jewels around this 29,350-acre reservoir, 10 miles north of Denton between Pilot Point and Sanger, is an 11-mile trail between US 380 and FM 455 (the 4.5-mile hiking and biking trail from FM428 to FM455 is currently open, pending reconstruction of other sections of the trail). Canoeists, bird-watchers and anglers also can access the trail, calling for river conditions is recommended.
You’ll also find swimming beaches, fishing, boating, camping opportunities and a nature lodge, Lantana Resort, for an array of fees. There are also lots of organized activities included in the general admission fee to Ray Roberts Lake State Park. There are two camping and recreation areas, at Isle du Bois and Johnson Branch.
Water sports, fishing, biking, hiking, walking and camping are all part of the fun at this 7,200-acre lake with 60 miles of shoreline. At Scott’s Landing Marina, you’ll find sailboaters, powerboaters, boat clubs, and more. Another option is Silver Lake Marina, home of Black Watch Sailing Charters, which sails the largest wooden-mast boat on the lake.
Joe Pool Lake
The 7,500-acre lake borders Cedar Hill State Park, Loyd Park, Lynn Creek Park and Britton Park, and offers fishing, boating and camping. As for the Grand Prairie lake parks, the city’s parks site sums it up nicely: Loyd Park’s big on camping with an 18-room lodge, 221 campsites and eight cabins (you can also rent a canoe or kayak for the 4.9-mile paddling trail), Lynn Creek has upward of 100 picnic shelters along with a swimming beach and playground, and Britton Park has a boat ramp and fishing-hole access.
At Cedar Hill State Park, you’ll find picnic areas, camping opportunities, boat ramps and Penn Farm Agricultural History Center (an old Texas farm).
This lake is noted for its sunfish, crappie and blue catfish fishing opportunities. Camping and boating are among the other fun things to do at the 21,400-acre lake in Collin County, near Wylie. There are more than a dozen lakeside parks, with marinas in Collin Park (featuring a campground with RV and tent sites, and boat rentals from Lavon Water Sports) and East Fork Park.
Nancy Churnin, Aurelia Han, Ann Pinson and special contributor Jackie Hoermann contributed to this report.