White Rock Lake has 9-plus miles of waterfront trails; the complete loop around the lake takes about three hours. Also ... More
White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake has 9-plus miles of waterfront trails; the complete loop around the lake takes about three hours. Also offered are fishing, sailing and horseback riding. Those who enjoy bird watching will find that the lake attracts a wide variety of birds; note especially the green parrots at the south end of the lake. There are also several playgrounds and picnic areas available for reservation. An experimental ecology center is in the making. Admission is free.
Dallas is very limited on natural beauty (insert botox/plastic surgery joke here). It is flat, the wildlife is largely unremarkable, and there is very little to do besides working, eating and shopping It's made strides lately with remarkable buildings and bridges, and while the Trinity River is only a short distance from downtown, it's hardly majestic.
Then you have White Rock Lake. Located in the heart of East Dallas, White Rock is an oasis of beauty and nature. While not a particularly large lake, it offers spectacular views, good paved trails, fishing, non-motor boating, and many other activities.
When I was growing up in the 80's and 90's, it was a tale of two lakes. The west side was paved by West Lawther Drive, featuring some of Dallas' most beautiful mansions. The east side, while paved and littered with parks, was not a place you'd want to stop and take a nap unless you were looking to get mugged. It was littered with empty bottles, drunks, and human garbage. Crappy cars, loud blaring music, and semi-lewd behavior were commonplace.
In the late 90's and early 2000's that all began to change. The city spent a great deal of money improving it and driving out the aforementioned negative elements, and White Rock became a true treasure. While always paved, numerous improvements have been added, and it now serves as a wonderful retreat for multiple activities.
I started riding my mountain bike around White Rock around '98, and it's certainly not for the unaware. There are quite a few convergent roads throughout the paved roads around the lake, and if you're not observant you could lead to someone getting hurt. The cyclists can be... passionate at times, but again, if you stay out of their way they're not a problem.
Apparently not everyone has enjoyed the transformation, and there are a few fishermen who don't like the fact that White Rock Lake now caters to a vastly larger population than theirs, namely walkers, joggers, and cyclists. They complain of being taunted and harassed. The easy solution to this is for them to not stand on the plainly-designated bike and jogging paths, specifically bridge by Mockingbird Ln, which is maybe 8' wide. That bridge is built for people in motion, whether they're riding, walking, or jogging. It's not the Santa Monica pier and it's certainly not the stern of the boat from Jaws. There's plenty of lake for all of us if we just stick to areas that make sense.
Long before White Rock Lake was a biking and jogger venue, it was a well-established
fishing lake, before it was called a park. There was no jogging/bike path, no one screaming, "on your left" or "on your right" or "watch it stupid!" There were no bikers racing on a multi-use pavement "speeding as fast as they could" in groups of 4, 6, 15 or even 30 bikers running everybody else off the pad.
White Rock Lake was a quiet place where people could observe nature, catch some
really great fish. About the most noise one would encounter was the rush-hour traffic on Garland Road near East Lather Drive. And it was over in a few minutes. But the lake nowadays is overrun by people who want to enjoy neither the water nor the fishing, but they come to jog and bike.
Fishermen get very little respect from rude, obnoxious bikers and loud boisterous joggers who constantly badger fishermen about the lake's conditions, the types of fish in the lake, their success (luck) or lack of it while fishing. Some fishermen have been queried about their fishing upwards of 200 times in a single day by joggers/bikers.
Other fishermen refuse to fish the lake on weekends and/or holidays because of the incessant meddling by persons passing by them.
Some fishermen have been needled so much by bikers and joggers that police had to be summoned to where fishermen were set up. Fishermen have been screamed at by bikers and cursed because they would not talk. Other fishers packed up and left for other lakes to find more solitude from the bulging numbers of joggers and bikers.
One fisherman said, "Between the bicycles, the joggers and the people teaching rowing lessons who come right across your lines only 15 or 20 feet from the bank, (when they have the entire lake to use) the once peaceful and unique lake has turned into a state fair of jogging and biking. Fish near the jogging pad, you 'will' be eventually run off your spot from constant talking to you by people. You will 'not' be able to either relax, fish at all, or have fun."
Most fishermen concur with this synopsis and evaluation of the lake atmosphere, and say that there is 'always' someone trying to run long conversations with them, or who are unable to realize that fishermen came to fish. One law enforcement officer said that the bikes give hundreds of bikers 'access' to fishermen which minimizing the peace on the lake. "If the bikers would just bike and leave the fishermen alone, and the joggers would jog, then the fishermen could fish; because fishermen don't like to talk or answer questions of bikers and joggers." he said.
I'm a resident of the area and my husband and I cycle the lake almost daily, year 'round as long as it isn't raining and even then, we might walk to the lake for our daily exercise. I've even done a bit of cross-country skiing and sledding here a couple of times after some of our rare snowstorms!
It's a beautiful place to relax, but as with any public place it does have its 'moments'. Because people of all kinds come to the lake, you may encounter those who aren't as clean and polite as they should be. Yes, there are litterbugs who throw trash and even baby diapers around. Yes, you have 'creeps' who take advantage of the place-- trolling for sex, drugs, etc. Even some cyclists and joggers (and fishermen and other visitors) can be rude or pushy. But this is no different than any other cross section of society who go to a place that's free and open to all. You still have plenty of good folks who care about the lake and others, who take care of the place and don't abuse it. Okay, enough ranting...
White Rock Lake is over 100 years old and is the largest urban manmade lake in the United States. As for tourist activities-- there are canoe and kayak rentals in the summer time, and one can rent a bike from Richardson Bike Mart on Garland Rd. at Old Gate. You might need to bring your own helmet, as I don't think those can be rented for hygiene reasons. From RBM, it's an easy pedal to the lake, across Garland Rd. at the light at Old Gate, then down Emerald Isle near Barbec's, just a short half block west of the bike mart. That takes you to Winfrey Point, right at the lake, and you can catch the bike/jogging trail from there, or simply pedal up to the house on top of the hill and enjoy the view. If you're into fitness, the entire trip around the lake is 9.6 miles of varied terrain from flat to surprisingly hilly (for this area of Texas, anyway).
White Rock is an excellent place for birdwatching. Be sure to keep your eye out for the Monk Parakeets that roost near the old power plant-- they're very cool birds and somewhat of a mascot. You may also see pelicans, egrets, several kinds of ducks and geese, herons, cormorants, many types of songbirds, and several birds of prey including redtail hawks and Cooper's hawks just to name a few.
In the spring, check out the wildflowers including the bluebonnets near the Mockingbird Road lot. White Rock Lake is situated on what was once the Blackland Prairie. Efforts have been made to preserve this highly endangered ecosystem and you can still find native flowers and grasses from this area. Many native animals still frequent this area, such as coyotes, fox, rabbits and even bobcats-- though they tend to stay clear of humans! Still, you may spot one for a photo op, and a reminder that we live in their world. Pretty neat stuff for being in the middle of the big city!
On your way back to RBM to return your bike, be sure to stop at Barbec's for a bite of good cheap home cookin' or one of their famous beer biscuits. No car? No problem! The lake is accessible on DART, via the Blue Line light rail, or on the bus, from White Rock Rail Station. Just cross Northwest Highway to Lawther, and catch the trail. Bikes are welcome on DART buses and trains. Or, ride the new bike trail from Fair Park or Deep Ellum out to the lake.
White Rock Lake is thought by many to be a crown jewel of Dallas. We are very blessed to have such a treasure in our midst. No visit to Dallas is complete without a stop for a few hours or a whole day at White Rock Lake... y'all come see us!
There is nothing 'wrong' with the LAKE itself, as the lake is well taken care of.
What IS wrong with White Rock Lake is the 'atmosphere' on the lake.
Specifically what I saw was horrible. I saw men who were trying to fish, literally being TAUNTED, and HARASSED by "speeding" bikers on the bike paths. They would scream out at fishermen, "Hey catch enough for me!" or "Hey boy! Get your dinner!" And some yelled out obscenities and racial slurs at African-American men fishing.
Others stopped along-side the fishermen and asked them redundant, mundane questions continually, so much so, that I saw one man pack up and just left the lake
in frustration! "He mumbled something about not being left alone."
After investigating reports of harassment on White Rock Lake, one woman found that bikers had harassed fishermen so much that police had to be summoned to stop it.
One fisherman said that he went to his car, to return and discover a "walker" with his dog throwing all of his fish into the water! Then the walker cursed the fisherman.
A bass tournament fisherman said that White Rock Lake has the worst record for
meddling and harassment than any other lake in Texas. "People who jog or bike at this particular lake simply will 'not' "mind their OWN business!," He said.
An African-American fisherman, last year had his life threatened by a passer-by who was walking with a female, when the walker heard the fisherman ask a boater to be mindful of his lines in the water. "Reportedly, the walker/jogger stopped, screamed
at the fisherman, "You (explicative) the boat has the right of way, you need to pull your (explicative) lines out of the water!" When the fisherman disagreed, the walker/jogger offer to do bodily harm to the stationary fisherman.
On another occasion, a speeding biker, "trampled" an 'infant' Hispanic girl beneath
his speeding bike. The parents did not speak English. The biker (wearing racing' colors and outfitted as such) threw his bike, grabbed the little girl up from the pavement, dusted her off, hugged her... and then sped off!" The parents/grandparents were "appalled!" No report was filed.
Another biker ran into a senior citizen as she walked on the jogging pad, "Screaming ON YOUR RIGHT!" The biker 'cursed' as he sped off continuing his RACE around the White Rock Lake Park.
This atmosphere, the atmosphere, and mal-treatment of many at the lakes is unchecked by law enforcement, as they do not recognize the incessant initiation of conversation from bikers and joggers as harassment, but rather friendliness.
The problem is at White Rock Lake, is that the fishermen suffer greatly. Perhaps if the bikers had to 'register' or have 'White Rock Bike Tags' registered with the Lake so that they could me identified when they are harassing persons at the lake, that would solve the problem. As it stands, at least when I was there, bikers and joggers have anonymity which affords them the luxury and security of harassing persons at the lake without being identified, except by what they were wearing, or the type bike they rode.
Certainly, fishermen, it was plain to see, do not wish to be questioned about the type of fish in the lake, or if the fish are biting, or any other questions that bikers and joggers pose approximately every 2 or 3 minutes to fishermen. One fisherman said that he was asked 422 times (he counted) if the fish were biting, what he caught, or if he was catching anything. And, when he didn't answer... he was cursed.
I just got back visiting Dallas and one of the highlights was biking around White Rock Lake. Nice scenery - birds and million dollar mansions. The dedicated bike trail was rather flat (so it was easy) and had water fountains along the way. There was also an adjacent road that the more serious bikers took to. There is a bike shop on the commercial strip - Richardson Bike Mart - that gave me a map & rented me a bike ($35/all day) with helmet, (one block from the lake.) Very cool way to spend a day. I wish there were kayak rentals.
i belive that white rock is aa very natural nice place to relas and enjoy with the whole family...although there should be some more procations to the areas that in the oprn near the water. Yes parents should be watching there kids but things happen kids run off and we all go down one way or another.
- In the winter time the crappie school up in the creek North of the lake in huge numbers following the shad. Carey Thorn from TexasOklahomaFishingGuide.com is a fishing guide whom guides there in the dead of winter and catches limits from the bank! We used him last year as guide and highly recommend him. I took my son with me who has never caught a crappie or used a spinning rod, for that matter. We left with 38 slab crappie to 16 inches. Crazy thing was, Carey was targeting them in 3 ft of water in 39 degree weather! We put on polarized glasses and could actually see them.
Other than that, use 4-6 pound mono line. Black/Chart jigs with crappie nibbles are the best thing to use there. Of course the old live minnow trick will do fine, but you will be able to cover more water with jigs is what we learned. Apparently Carey does not start to guide this creek till around Thanksgiving. He said when the water hits about 50 or below, they start the migration up the creek. The colder the better.
A rule people dont really know about this water is, you cant wade in it. Make sure you have a fishing license due to the game wardens patrol the woods waiting for poachers!
the scenery is the best thing my dog obviously enjoys it the only thing i consider is dnt get there at 6 and plan to walk around the whole thing it took us up to 3hrs plus to walk around not to mention theres construction that doesnt alow us to pass over all its peaceful calm and many water fontains and its fun to relax and releive stress.
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