Santa Fe Trail (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Santa Fe Trail (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

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“The Great Trinity Forest is amazing, but you can’t get to it. Wouldn’t it be great if these trails connected and they were longer?”

The City of Dallas began making comprehensive plans for a citywide trail system about 14 years ago. So far, Dallas has built 149 miles of trails, with another 37 miles currently under development. But total of 300 miles of trails are proposed across the city, but so far much of that is unfunded.

While many are disconnected, there is a plan in the works to create The Loop, a $56-million project that would create one 50-mile loop connecting North Dallas, White Rock Lake, South Dallas, Oak Cliff and West Dallas, spanning all 14 City Council districts. The Loop is the idea of pals Jeff Ellerman, a real estate executive, and oilman Larry Dale, who became frustrated one day while riding bikes on the dead-end Trinity Skyline Trail in Oak Cliff.

“We were saying, ‘This is so frustrating because there’s no trail to get here. Once you’re down here, it’s unbelievable, but it doesn’t go anywhere,’ ” Ellerman recalls. “ ‘The Great Trinity Forest is amazing, but you can’t get to it. Wouldn’t it be great if these trails connected and they were longer?’ ”

With encouragement from Mayor Mike Rawlings and Katy Trail mastermind Philip Henderson, they created a nonprofit, the Circuit Trail Conservancy; about two years ago, they began working with the city’s Park Department and Trinity Watershed Management on a plan to connect the trails.

Now plans for The Loop are complete, and the nonprofit already has raised about $17 million, including $5 million from Dallas County.

The city’s portion is $20 million, and if approved, The Loop could open in the next four years.

 


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