FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – On a cold New Year’s Day, a group of nature-lovers received a warm welcome to a hidden Fort Worth gem. “Hi there! Good morning!” a cheerful woman bundled in scarf, coat and gloves said as she offered people coffee.

“We had never heard about this place until we were watching the news this morning and we decided to come out and take a walk,” said Lisa Kelley, who came out for a nature walk with her husband. “And it is beautiful!”

Nestled in the shadow of downtown Fort Worth just north of I-30 on the east side, Tandy Hills Nature Area is 160-acres of seldom seen wildlife preserve. The city obtained the land 52-years ago. Its remained relatively obscure since then. But a group originally united to protect the land from gas drilling in 2006, has evolved into the nature area’s biggest fans.

“Since then we’re focused a hundred percent on preserving and restoring Tandy Hills Natural Area and we work with the City of Fort Worth to do that,” said Don Young, director of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area.

The area definitely earns the ‘Hills’ part of its title. Deep ravines and steep slopes criss-cross the landscape. The paths are the ones carved out by boot. There are no concrete or dirt paths. Above the distant hum of the interstate, hikers can hear jays chattering and crows cawing.

Friends of Tandy Hills promised people a chance to hike off a couple of pounds while offering an eye-opening tour of what is in their urban backyard.

“We saw red-tail hawk, a couple of dove, a turkey vulture,” said Cal Kelley who normally travels to far north Fort Worth’s Nature Center to hike.

“I know its here and I take it for granted,” said Janet Worn as she caught her breath after a hike. “I’m actually from north Arlington so i drove a little ways to get here. Its a great way to start the year and a good habit to begin.”

Friends of Tandy Hills hopes a chilly, New Year’s Day hike will grow into new support year ’round.  “We probably plan to volunteer if we can and come out and help clean it up and keep the trails,” Cal Kelley said. “It is beautiful.”

To learn more about the Tandy Hills Nature Area, CLICK HERE.

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