Chaparral Rail Trail, connecting four counties northeast of Dallas, has been developing since it was first envisioned in 1995. The 35-mile route is the westernmost leg of the regional Northeast Texas Trail system, which will one day span more than 130 miles and 19 communities.
The rail-trail begins in Farmersville, where its first 2.5 miles are paved. The trailhead is located a block from downtown at the Onion Shed, a restored building from the 1930s that was once used as a loading dock for the onion industry.
When the pavement ends, expect a crushed-stone surface suitable for hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Outside the city, the route feels remote and forested.
The trail continues through the communities of Merit, Celeste, Ladonia, and Wolfe City with several miles between each. Though these are small towns, most have a grocery store and restaurants that make helpful and much-needed stopping points to rest and refuel.
The trail peters out at Crawford Street on the outskirts of Pecan Gap. From there, trail becomes overgrown and nearly impassable, though travelers can drive about 30 miles northeast, to the city of Paris, to pick up two more sections of the Northeast Texas Trail, both fully paved. Trail de Paris begins just a couple of blocks from Paris’ Main Street and heads east, connecting directly with the Reno Rail-Trail, which continues through Reno to Blossom. Together, they encompass 11 miles of trail.
In Avery, about 40 miles east of Reno by car, another section of the trail, the DeKalb Trace, can be traveled by bicycle, horseback, or on foot all the way to New Boston, a distance of 22 miles.
Parking is available at the trail's western end at the historical Onion Shed (151 S. Main Street) and at the J.W. Spain Athletic Complex (400 Merit Street).