Fort Worth’s Trinity River

Fort Worth's Trinity River is now a much-loved landmark.

Laura Hill
On Friday, August 12, 2011 - 15:29
Fort Worth

Not long ago, the Trinity River was little more than a neglected ditch, the victim of well-intended flood control measures. But today, thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens, local, state and federal governments, the Trinity is the beating heart of the city and a promise of great things to come.

The tragedy of the Trinity came after disastrous floods had periodically swamped parts of the city for decades. Re-routing the river and building huge levees eased floods, but left the river little more than an eyesore.

Rescuing a River

Then, in 1971 a group of concerned community members, Streams and Valleys, launched a campaign to restore the river they loved, a groundswell that grew for three decades. In 2003, after hundreds of public meetings, citywide discussion and planning, The Trinity River Vision plan was adopted by the city.

An ambitious re-imagining of 88 miles of the river, its tributaries and a large blighted area of downtown, it aims to protect the river and make it more accessible to the entire community.

“We don’t want to see just skinny, sweaty people running along the river trails,” says J.D. Granger, executive director of Trinity River Vision Authority. “We want a river available to everybody.”

Recreation on the Riverbanks

While the project moves toward its 2021 completion, Fort Worth is already enjoying its renewed river, from quiet walks along its banks to wet and wild water sports. Trinity River Trails, a 40-mile riverside greenway system of walking, biking, horseback and hiking trails connects 21 parks, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, the Fort Worth Zoo, the Historic Stockyards and downtown. Stops offer launch sites for kayaks and canoes, picnic areas, water fountains, parking and misters. You can even cross the river by train, courtesy of the Forest Park Miniature Railroad.

One of the most anticipated amenities is the Cowtown Wakepark, set to open in spring 2011 near Northside Drive. Only the eighth park in the country devoted to wakeboarding, a hybrid of surfing and waterskiing, the riverside facility will replicate wave movement with cables.

Fishermen love the banks of the Trinity for catch-and-release sport. The fishing pier at Trinity Park is a popular spot; each spring hundreds of trout are released into the river, affording anglers a field day.

Summer of Splash

Increasingly, outdoor-lovers find themselves not just next to the river or on it, but in it. Trinity River Vision Authority launched three wildly popular tubing events in 2010, floating hundreds of people downriver in inner tubes, and plans more in summer 2011. The river also boasts a water-ski slalom course.

For those who prefer sprawling on the sofa to splashing, Colonial Park apartment homes offer “tranquil views” of the river, while River Park lures renters with its proximity to Trinity Trails. As the city’s vision emerges, more riverfront housing and commercial space will turn a once-blighted area, Trinity Uptown, into a vibrant new Fort Worth – inspired by the river that runs through it.

“From 2000 to 2007 we grew from 530,000 people to 708,000,” Granger says. “Lots of young people who moved here have no memory of an industrial riverfront – they just see a beautiful river.”

Find out more on Fort Worth's adventurous side.


Laura Hill is a former reporter/columnist for the Tennessean and a contributor to Journal Communications publications since 1996.