The Katy Trail, a 3.5-mile pedestrian and bicycle path, traces the greenbelt along which the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT or “Katy”) Railroad traveled through Dallas. The railway was the first to enter Texas from the north. It began operation in 1887, and for decades was the link for Dallas residents to the East Coast. After 100 years of carrying passengers and freight in and out of Dallas, the Katy Railroad tracks were abandoned.
Community members, in union with county and city officials, proposed the transformation of the Katy Railroad tracks into urban parkland as part of a nationwide rails-to-trails program. In 1997, these supporters formed Friends of the Katy Trail, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a great American park in the most densely populated area of Dallas. To date, they have secured more than $17.4 million toward a $23 million goal to build the Trail and preserve this natural environment.
In 1993, three miles of railway were donated by Union Pacific Railroads to the City of Dallas. Initial funding for the Katy Trail was obtained by county and federal grants. The Trail currently features a 12-foot-wide concrete path for cyclists and skaters. In addition to the concrete trail, an 8-foot-wide, soft-surface path made from partially recycled rubber is being built next to the existing Trial. Upon completion, the Katy Trail will extend more than four miles, linking the Mockingbird DART station and SMU to the American Airlines Center and the West End in downtown Dallas.