SMU is conveniently located next to a beautiful running and biking trail. From dorm to trail it takes about 8 minutes to run to, the perfect amount of time for a good warm-up before a strenuous run or a warm-down. The Katy Trail is the perfect place for students and faculty to escape some of the college stress.
Contrary to popular belief, the Katy Trail is actually not a trail, but a privately-maintained public park. This 3.5 mile linear park begins at SMU and stretches all the way to the American Airlines Center near downtown.
The park is useful to both runners and cyclists. There is a 12-foot-wide concrete trail that is divided into two lanes which is perfect if you have a need for speed on your bike. If you are a little wary of speeding cyclists there is a 8-foot-wide soft-surface running path.
These two paths are all covered with big trees and fragrant flowers. I sometimes feel transported from urban Dallas to the middle of a beautiful forest. My favorite part of the trail is about a mile into it where the trees form a protective tunnel with gorgeous bamboo shoots to block your view of buildings. I would suggest avoiding the park if you have bad allergies in the spring because pollen tends to float about.
One unique feature about the park is the mile markers that dot the concrete trail every quarter mile. The mile markers are imbedded into the concrete. They show both distance traveled and the distance remaining before you reach the end of the trail.
The interesting thing about them is no matter which end of the trail you start at, Airline road to the north or the American Airlines Center to the south, the mile marker always starts at zero.
The Katy Trail is also dotted with 911 markers for the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Fire Department. At every eighth of a mile you can see signs labeled KT-100 through KT-125. These numbers are linked to Dallas’ GPS and will direct emergency assistance to your location.
The Friends of the Katy Trail is a nonprofit organization that supports and improves the trail. With their donations they are able to keep the trail safe and clean for everyone to use.
If you want to fully enjoy the trail there are a lot of options when it comes to actually getting to the trail. Since not everyone lives on SMU campus, there is convenient parking on Knox St. behind the Lamps Plus store.
People who live on campus can just walk, run, bike or rollerblade to the park. Take a left as you exit the boulevard onto Mockingbird. Then take a right onto Airline Road and follow that until you see the beginning of the trail on your right.
I take this time to do a quick warm-up before a run. My routine consists of walking for two minutes and then lightly jogging for one minute until my body begins to heat up and become more flexible. Then I hit the trail and complete a hard workout surrounded by beautiful scenery.