Local North Texas cities are making headway on establishing an interconnected trail system among six neighboring cities. This plan has been theorized since the early 1980s, but now these trails and parks are finally see the connections come to fruition.

According to the 2001 Six Cities Trail Plan, several defined trailways were proposed as a “spine system” of established trails between Allen, Frisco, Garland, McKinney, Plano and Richardson. The longest and most connected trail, the Rowlett Creek Trail corridor, is expected to be a 24-mile pathway between all six cities, with connections to Lake Ray Hubbard, Rowlett Creek Preserve, Bob Woodruff Park  and more. The trail is intended to offer an interjurisdictional trail network and more opportunities to alleviate traffic congestion along major thoroughfares.

The Rowlett Greenbelt Trail corridor starts in McKinney at Eldorado Parkway in Frisco and the McKinney city limit. Connections move south from McKinney to Allen, east of Rowlett Creek and crossing SH 121. The trail follows Rowlett Creek from the Allen/Parker area to Plano north of Legacy Drive and along Cottonwood Creek at Parker Road. Moving south, Plano connects to Richardson north of Renner Road along Rowlett Creek until ending in Garland at Brand Road.

The Cottonwood Creek Trail corridor connects McKinney, Allen, Plano, Richardson and Garland along Allen’s Cottonwood Creek into the tail end of Rowlett Creek trail. Last September, Allen City Council approved a $720,627 contract funded by Allen Community Development Corp. and a grant from Collin County Parks and Open Space, to extend the trail south. Cottonwood Creek Trail will be a 12-foot-wide, hike-and-bike trail connected two Allen parks and the Allen Senior Recreation Center.
Tim Dentler, Allen parks and recreation director, said, “The hike and bike trail allows citizens of all ages to access our parks and recreation facilities without the use of vehicles and promotes the idea of exercise, whether it be on foot or on bicycle, encouraging them to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful setting our greenbelts offer.”

Several of the trails are nonexistent, under-construction or nearing completion. Once the trails are complete, residents can view scenic water sources and open spaces on their hikes, bikes and runs, from northern McKinney down to Garland and Richardson. Other trails like the Frisco/McKinney Trail corridor run west to east, connecting Frisco, McKinney and Rowlett through eight miles of trails along west Rowlett Creek, Cottonwood Creek and the Wilson Creek Trail corridors.

There’s an untapped economic power in these intercity trail connections. In 2017, the Trust for Public Land did an economic evaluation of Plano parks trails, and according to the report, “Plano parks, trails, and open spaces... raise the value of nearby homes by $337 million and increase property tax revenues by $6.08 million a year.” Parks and trails also increase city property tax revenues by $1.19 million a year, according to the report.

In relation to tourism and recreation, Plano’s parks, trails and open spaces save residents millions of dollars by offering free outdoor activities like hiking, walking, using recreation center amenities, running, jogging, playing in playgrounds, picnicking, reading, relaxing, and biking. And the array of sports and tournament-related recreation generates $39.2 million annually in direct visitor spending.

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