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Texas Trail Running: Isle du Bois (Ray Roberts Lake)

Over the weekend I checked out a 10-ish mile trail loop out at the Isle du Bois Unit of Ray Roberts Lake State Park and I must say it was a heck of a lot of fun. It is worth a trip if you are in the area.

Location: The Isle du Bois Unit is located just north east of Denton, Texas (see map below).

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Park map: Isle du Bois Unit

Since this is a state park, there is a $5 fee per person unless you own a state park pass. A state park pass allows all within your vehicle to get in for free.


Follow the main park road and as you near the boat ramp area, you will see a Dorba trail head sign on your right that leads into a nice parking area.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

The Trail Overview

This trail is created and maintained by the Dallas mountain biking club (Dorba) and consists of five intertwined loops ( identified as A, B, C, D, E) that can be joined into one large 10.14 mile loop or you can shorten the distance by making a loop out of loops A, B, and C for example.

Dorba: Isle du Bois trail map

The course looks a bit confusing when looking at the map but once on the trail, the trail signs keep you moving without much thought. To run the entire loop you stay left at each intersection except within Loop D which contains some optional bypasses of the more technical section of the trail. For most trail runners, there is no need to bypass these sections. There are trail signs that highlight the bypass junction (for loop D only).

As you run the entire 10.14 mile loop (per my Garmin) you will run partial segments of each loop. Hopefully the Dorba map helps clarify this. From the trail head, you will run segments of each loop in the following order: A(parking lot)->B->C->D->E(entire loop)->D->C->B->A(parking lot). You will run on new trail segments of each loop section. This is not an out-and-back course.

The below map image provides a general idea of the course layout within the park and if you want to use to it to guide you on the trail, GOOD LUCK!


Click image to enlarge.

The trail mainly runs within a moderately wooded area with a couple short sections of some open field running. The most technical aspect of the trail is that sections of it are scattered with small/moderate sized rocks. There are no large climbs but a few that you could raise your effort going up them to provide a nice little workout.

There are one or two short sandy sections and then the remaining trail have very good footing with very few roots (surprisingly). You also are able to enjoy a few scenic spots that look out into lake Ray Roberts within the middle portion of the run.

Concerning water – I didn’t see a refill faucet within the trail-head parking area but their definitely are ones within the park. I personally would bring my own extra water with me to refill bottles or whatever.

I also encountered 10 or so small deer during my run.

Elevation Summary

Here is the elevation profile form my Garmin Forerunner 305.

Click to enlarge image.

Click to enlarge image.

Ascent/descent per complete loop (10.14 miles): 882 feet (per SportTracks with elevation correction)

Bonus Points

There are a few additional amenities worth noting.

  • Nice family play/park area right off the water.
  • Clean and kept up bathroom facilities (including showers).
  • Park store.
  • Fairly low trail traffic (During my visit on a beautiful day, I saw a handful of mountain bikers and one hiker. Whether this is a common situation, I am not sure.)
  • Fairly easy drive from the DFW area.


I captured a bit of my adventure in the video below. It was one of those amazing mornings and I had the trail nearly to myself…and a few deer.

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

5 Responses to “Texas Trail Running: Isle du Bois (Ray Roberts Lake)”

  1. on 11 Nov 2009 at 8:12 am Mike Krejci

    Very cool, Dave! The video made me want to leave my office right now and get out there and run! Thanks for sharing your experience of this trail — I’ve got to get out there and try it as well. — Mike

  2. on 11 Nov 2009 at 11:45 am David Hanenburg

    Thanks Mike! Definitely a fun trail. I will let you know next time I am heading north.

  3. on 12 Nov 2009 at 2:41 pm Joel

    If I am not mistaken this was the site of your very first adventure race. I seem to remember the horrible sand we had to ride through… Perhaps its time to revisit the sport…

  4. on 12 Nov 2009 at 3:44 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Joel – That is funny. I didn’t even think about that. I am guessing we probably biked the horse/hike trail and the Dorba trail probably didn’t exist. I don’t remember much technical riding during the race. I do have rather nightmarish memories of those inflatable kayaks. 🙂

  5. on 06 Jan 2010 at 10:50 am » Bandera Weekend

    […] recovery week, I enjoyed a nice build in which I peaked my long run to just above 30 miles up at Isle du Bois. Week 51 was the oh sh*t gimp begin the taper and week 52/00 are actually the same week […]