It’s easy to enjoy outdoor activities in Tyler, TX.
As Tyler’s Parks and Recreation director, Leanne Robinette has to stay in touch with what’s taking place outdoors. And one thing she has noticed in recent years is that the parks (and other forms of outdoor rec) are becoming increasingly popular throughout the Tyler area.
“There are so many people enjoying our parks now who never did before the pandemic,” Robinette says. “The usage of our playgrounds and trails has gone up tremendously. People have fallen in love with being outside. It contributes not only to good physical health, but also to mental health.”
Fortunately, Tyler has plenty of supply to meet this new demand, with 28 parks, 14 walking/biking trails, approximately 36 miles of designated bicycle lanes and three large lakes in the region, as well as Tyler State Park.
“There is more of a focus around here in general on being outdoors,” says Holly Ingram, owner of the paddleboard rental company Tyler Paddle. “They’re creating more spaces for outdoor activities and making the ones that we already have better.”
Bill Lewis has seen the same trend. As president of the Tyler Bicycle Club, he has made many a journey along the area’s rolling hills and past the tall pine trees of East Texas.
“In the last few years, Tyler has really become a very outdoor, exercise-friendly place to live,” Lewis says. “There are lakes and parks and shady places where you can ride your bike or walk. It’s just a gorgeous place to be.”
Parks Are Plentiful
An enjoyable green space is never far away in Tyler. The largest is Tyler State Park, featuring a 64-acre spring-fed lake, towering 100-foot-tall trees, several historic structures and more than 13 miles of trails. A popular highlight is the Whispering Pines Nature Trail, a 3/4-mile round-trip pathway that was created in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
There also are numerous smaller parks – including Emmett J. Scott Park and the appropriately named Fun Forest Park – filled with such amenities as a pool, picnic areas, playgrounds, baseball/soft ball fields, tennis courts and basketball courts.
“We have a large parks system,” Robinette says. “You can get to a park within a few minutes or even a few blocks. We have a lot of neighborhood parks that people can walk to, and there’s a wide, diverse range of things for people to do in each park. This creates a sense of community and friendships and networking.
“You’re seeing more people having picnics outside with their kids,” she says. “You see kids of all ages and backgrounds playing together. Happy children make for happy parents and happy parents make for a happy community.”
Fun on Land and Water
When it comes to outdoor rec, trails are leading the way in Tyler. The 4.5-mile Legacy Trail (a 10-foot-wide concrete path) has been heavily utilized by walkers and runners since opening in 2019. There are plans for the trail eventually to be extended and linked to the South Tyler Trail and the Rose Rudman Recreational Trail.
Meanwhile, the Tyler Bicycle Club helps maintain three multipurpose trail systems in the area. There are 17 miles of trails at Lindsey Park (which has been ranked as one of the 10 best trail systems in Texas by the MTB Project cycling guide), 12 miles at Faulkner Park and the new 8-mile Blackhawk Creek Hike & Bike Trail in neighboring Whitehouse.
In addition, the city recently added a hub-and-spoke road cycling system, with dedicated bike lanes running outward from downtown Tyler in all directions.
“There are lakes and parks and shady places where you can ride your bike or walk. It’s just a gorgeous place to be.”
Bill Lewis, Tyler Bicycle Club
“So, you can start throughout the city and ride toward downtown, where there are breweries, restaurants, coff ee shops and a farmers market,” Lewis says. “It allows for a destination when you ride. It gives you a purpose to get on your bike and go to a place that you can enjoy.”
There also is the ability to spend countless hours on the water in the Tyler area. Lake Tyler, Lake Palestine and Bellwood Lake all offer swimming, fishing and boat/jet ski rentals.
“We have easy access to lakes,” Ingram says. “They’re trying to make all these lakes better as far as activities and businesses opening up around the lakes.
“There are some great places around here where you can get away and unplug for the weekend, without having to go too far. Outdoor activities are just growing in number.”
One way to see health goals start to bloom is through the Ride the Four Pedals of the Rose initiative, a collaborative project between the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department and the Tyler Bicycle Club.
This is a simple yet fun way to exercise. The goal is to cycle, run or walk four designated trails: the Lindsey Park Trail, Faulkner Park Trail, Tyler State Park Trail and UT Tyler Trail. Participants who complete this grand slam can fill out a form and send it to the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department, and they will receive a congratulations certificate along with a decal proudly proclaiming, “I Rode the Four Pedals of the Rose.”
“It’s a really simple program, but people love it,” says Leanne Robinette, Tyler Parks and Recreation director.
Combined, the four trails stretch for nearly 35 miles through both the city’s urban landscape and its natural areas. Lindsey Park is a nature trail with plenty of open spaces, while Faulkner Park is a mixed-surface trail filled with twists and turns. Tyler State Park is home to an asphalt/gravel trail with some challenging elevation changes and UT Tyler Trail has both a 2.5-mile campus loop and 1-mile lake loop.
“It’s a fun thing to be able to check off a list, so exercising doesn’t get monotonous,” Tyler Bicycle Club President Bill Lewis says. “Plus, you can experience all four parks, and they’re each very different. It’s just a neat way to encourage people to get outdoors, get some exercise and see each of those parks.”
Get to Know Tyler
Want to learn more about living and working in Tyler, TX? Check out the latest edition of Livability Tyler, Texas.