Forest Park

Forest Park Sign


  • 1910


  • 120.9  acres

Additional amenities

  • Benches
  • Bike racks
  • Electrical boxes
  • Grills
  • Multi-use/Purpose slab
  • Park Lighting
  • Parking Lot
  • Shelters
  • Stand Alone Swing
  • Swimming pool/Splashpad
  • Tables
  • Trash receptacles

Fun facts

Forest Park, one of the city’s most popular parks and the location of the Fort Worth Zoo, Forest Park Swimming Pool, and Log Cabin Village, is located along the south side of the Clear Fork of the Trinity River.  In 1909, the city acquired approximately seventy acres in what was then a remote area southwest of the city limits. George Kessler had recommended its acquisition because of its scenic qualities. An additional five and one-half acres were added in 1912 at a cost of $6,000.


Forest Park has many recreational opportunities throughout its 170+ acres (including Zoo and Log Cabin Village acreage). World class attractions that serve Fort Worth residents and tourists alike include the Fort Worth Zoo and Log Cabin Village. In addition to these facilities, the Forest Park Miniature Railroad thrills kids and adults alike as they ride this tiny train on a 5 mile journey through the park and along the Trinity River. Beloved Forest Park Pool is the oldest Fort Worth aquatics facility. The pool hosts lap lanes, shade umbrellas and picnic tables, and zero depth beach entry. In September 2021, public meetings were held for feedback on future amenities at the pool. Forest Park contains a shelters, playgrounds, picnic areas, plenty of old shade trees, a view of the Trinity River, and access to Trinity Trails.


The original parcels for Forest Park primarily consisted of wooded hillsides with limited flat areas for recreation. The acquisition of additional land over the years helped to rectify the problem. In 1926, Cynthia Sisks sold 68.3 acres to the city for $40,000.  In 1927, she sold 36,247 square feet for $1.00.  In 1945, she sold 11.1 acres for $5,000. In 1924, the Fairmount Land Company sold 12.42 acres for $4,347.  In 1924, R. Z. Bobo sold .72 acres to the city for $260 and in 1925, he sold 16.92 acres for $14,923. This land encompasses what is known today as Bobo Woods on the west side of the park. In May 1945, the City Council approved the purchase of eleven acres at $300 an acre from Mrs. Elizabeth Ryan. This purchase extended the park south from Park Hill Drive to McPherson.

By 1915, the park had a tennis court. That was also the year that stairs and retaining walls set amongst flower beds were constructed on the east side of the park. They were constructed of native stone and designed by Swiss-born Jules Henri (Henry) Gandillon, the city’s chief gardener since 1909.  These stairs provided the main entrance to the park for visitors who arrived via the TCU streetcar line. The same stairs would provide access to the Forest Park swimming pool after its construction in 1922.

The landmark Forest Park Gates at Forest Park Boulevard and Park Place Drive were constructed in 1917-18 by the Bryce Building Company. Approval for the gates, estimated to cost $1,800, was given by the park board in December 1916. Designed by local architect John Pollard, they were constructed of rubble limestone with square bases and measured thirty feet in height.  Arched openings allow for a pathway to pass through each structure. Although they appear to be two-stories in height, there is no access to what appears to be a balcony with stone balustrade and arched openings. The name “Forest Park” is carved into the east facing balustrade. Ornate lantern brackets extend from an inside corner above the balusters. A hipped roof with wide overhanging bracketed eaves was sheathed with red tile. A flagpole crowns the peak of each roof. An original drawing for the gates indicates that curving stone wing walls with built-in seats were to extend from the outer side of each gate but early photographs indicate that these were never built.   A cornerstone on the north tower was removed under mysterious circumstances. The gates were restored in 1980 with the assistance of funding from the adjacent Berkeley neighborhood. They were restored again in 2009-10. Lanterns once again hang from the ornate brackets. The gates were rededicated in November 2011 with a plaque placed in the location of the former cornerstone. The plaque honors the contributions of Leann and Bob Adams, residents of the Berkeley neighborhood, for their thirty-plus years of advocacy on behalf of the preservation and restoration of these beautiful stone towers.

On June 16, 1922, the Forest Park Swimming Pool was opened on the east side of the park below the bluff and near Gandillon’s stone stairs. The giant all-concrete circular pool was designed by city engineers S.D. Lewis. It had a diameter of 250 feet and ranged from a depth of one to nine feet. It was constructed by J. F. Wills, who also donated an 80-foot flagpole planted in the center of the pool. On the east side of the pool was a large two-story wood bathhouse with full height columns supporting the center bay and flanking one-story wings. The bathhouse, estimated to cost $18,000, was designed by noted Fort Worth architect Joseph R. Pelich.

In 1959, the park board approved a proposal from the Junior Chamber of Commerce to construct a band shell and 2,000-seat amphitheater in the park. The selected site was the archery range north of the current entrance to the zoo. The organization hoped to raise $25,000 for the project. Unfortunately these features did not materialize.

One proposed improvement to Forest Park did come to fruition in 1959.  On June 12, the Forest Park Miniature Railroad began operation between Forest Park and Trinity Park to the north. Concessionaire Bill Hames and members of his family operated the 5-mile roundtrip ride, driving either a miniature replica of the streamlined Texas Eagle or a miniature replica of an 1865 steam locomotive. The roundtrip ride, which included crossing the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, took thirty minutes to complete. In the 1960s, the original Forest Park Swimming Pool was removed although its round outline remains. A new pool was placed within the circle.

On June 30, 1994, 68 trees were planted in the area of Forest Park north of Log Cabin Village and Colonial Parkway in what was called the All-America City Legacy Forest. The trees were planted to coincide with the city’s commemoration of its designation as a 1993 All-American City. Dignitaries, including Mayor Kay Granger, took part in the ceremony as did every-day citizens, including a number of children. The types of trees planted included red oak, redbuds (the city’s official tree), and Chinese pistachio.

The Forest Park Swimming Pool closed in 2010 because of structural issues. On May 25, 2013, it was officially opened to the public following $830,000 in repairs, $500,000 of which came from a grant from the Radler Foundation. Another $20,000 came from donated funds and the contractor donated half of its profits. The pool received a new liner, piping, a slide, and diving board as well as new concrete decking, six “Coolbrella” picnic areas, and lounge chairs. The pool provided better access for the mobility-impaired individuals.


Forest Park's geology is varied between ancient stream alluvium and terrace deposits from the Holocene. These depositions occurred on the lagoon side of barrier islands and wind-deposited tidal flat sands and clays. Modern geology-in-the-making include alluvium deposits from flood events on the Trinity River, as well as general deposition of sand bars and gravel beds along the base of the river flow. The remainder of Forest Park comprises the Fort Worth Limestone and Duck Creek Formation of the early Cretaceous. This formation exhibits ancient marine burrows and Pecten, oyster, echinoid, and ammonite fossils.


The park, not surprisingly due to the alluvium geology, is comprised mostly of Frio Series soils. These soils are calcareous loamy and clayey soils found in floodplain alluvium. The upland soils are of the Aledo-Bolar complex; which consist of shallow, well drained calcareous soils formed in interbedded limestones and marls of the Cretaceous Age.


Forest Park is a bottomland habitat in the floodplain of the Trinity River. The northern parts of the park have paved trails that offer scenic views of the Trinity River. Throughout the park there are stands of mature trees with a dense understory. There are also a few small remnants of the tallgrass prairie that historically dominated the area. Forest Park supports a wide variety of wildlife including barred owls, gray foxes, armadillos, opossums, raccoons, spotted towhees, coyotes, and brown thrashers.


View animal, plant and insect species observed at Forest Park and make some of your own observations through iNaturalist. See link under the "Related information" Section. 

Reserve this park on ActiveNet


1500 Colonial Parkway, Fort Worth 76110  View Map

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