Map from the City of Tyler showing the planned phases of Legacy Trails
Tyler's city leaders and area trails supporters have worked for years, along with TxDOT, to secure funding for an expanded regional biking and hiking trail system.
On July 12, 2016, the City of Tyler's half-cent sales tax board approved items related to a new Legacy Trails project, which would extend the city’s trail system to Gresham. Clearing of the overgrown right-of-way for the trails phase to Gresham began in January of 2018.
The City of Tyler officially opened the trail at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 22, 2019.
Today, in 2023, the 10-foot wide, concrete Legacy Trails is open, starting at Three Lakes Parkway Trail Head near FRESH by Brookshires, and proceeding south to the Gresham Trail Head, using sections of the old Cotton Belt railroad route along with city-owned right-of-way and utility easements along Old Jacksonville Highway.
As the trail leaves Three Lakes heading south, it follows the railroad route, and at The Crossing follows the east side of Mahar Road.
Near Oak Creek, the trail turns east to Old Jacksonville Highway, and runs on the west side of the highway till past Toll 49, when it turns west.
For details, view the City of Tyler Legacy Trail Map (PDF)
Parking is available at the trail head at the corner of Three Lakes and Old Jacksonville. NOTE: Entrance to the parking lot is from the eastbound lane of Three Lakes Parkway.
Additional parking is located at the entrance to The Crossing at Mahar Road (County Road 164), and at the Gresham Trail Head.
Covered pavilions are located at the Three Lakes Trail Head, the Gresham Trail Head, and at The Crossing/Mahar intersection. Water fountains are also located at these locations.
|Map showing the route of Legacy Trails from the Three Lakes Trail Head to Gresham
|Scene at the Three Lakes Trail Head on the Legacy Trails in Tyler
|Pavilion, bike rack and water fountain on Legacy Trails on Mahar Road at The Crossing
|Kiosk showing the location of the Three Lakes Trail Head and the Gresham Trail Head on Legacy Trails in Tyler
|Legacy Trails Trail Head and Pavilion in Gresham
Another part of the trail is routed from the Three Lakes Trail Head to the southeast. After a short segment southbound on the east side of Old Jacksonville Highway, it follows along Dueling Oaks Drive.
The trail then diverts along a more southerly route, through a hilly section of utility right-of-way, and connects with West Cumberland Road. From there concrete trails head east along the road, allowing trail bikers and hikers to reach the Faulkner Park trails.
|Map showing the route of Legacy Trails from the Three Lakes Trail Head to Faulkner Park
|Legacy Trails in Tyler ... Looking south from Princedale towards West Cumberland Road
It was announced in July of 2021 that Legacy Trails will be expanded. This next phase will include 1.7 miles of shared-use path and half-mile of sidewalks added. It would run south from Peete Elementary School through Winters park and then connecting with the proposed Stewart Park.
Although the goal is to connect the Tyler Rose Garden with the existing Legacy Trails system in southwest Tyler, plans for Phase 2 do not include this connection. This phase of the trails expansion is estimated to cost about $3.1 million.
On January 12, 2022, the Tyler City Council approved a contract with C.T. Brannon Corporation to complete the design for the Legacy Trail extension project.
The Legacy Trail extension project will consist of constructing a 12-foot wide reinforced concrete multipurpose trail from Peete Elementary School to connect with the proposed Stewart Park. The trail will initially be located in the right-of-way of Frankston Highway (State Highway 155) and then be constructed in either City right-of-way, public alley right-of-way or in City parks.
Local Tyler residents who drive south along Old Jacksonville Highway heading to Gresham, Flint, and Bullard have no doubt noticed the abandoned Cotton Belt Route right-of-way on the west side of the road.
Several segments of the rail bed are still visible. Part of the route ran from near the current location of FRESH, behind Advantage Self Storage, passed over CR 164 at the entrance to The Crossing, and then continued behind Stewart Funeral Home.
From there it ran along 164 (Mahar Road) for a distance south, and continued behind Bruno's Pizza, AAA Grass, What-a-Burger and other businesses in Gresham.
The rail line continued on to Flint and Bullard, along a route that is still visible in places today.
|Railroad ties and rails still visible as construction neared completed on the Legacy Trails near The Crossing. We wonder why this section was not removed decades ago when the route was abandoned?
(Photo by Staff Writer JFM, February 24, 2019)
South Tyler Trails (TylerTexasOnline staff photo)
Other trails are located around town, including the Rose Rudman Trail, South Tyler Trails, Faulkner Park and Lindsey Park.
Also popular is Tyler State Park north of Tyler, offering 13 miles of trails, and the mountain bike trails at the University of Texas at Tyler.