This Texas Hike Takes You Through an Abandoned Village

Looking for an adventure with a touch of spookiness? Consider a trip to the Old Zoo Nature Trails in Cisco, Texas. This trail winds through the remnants of an abandoned zoo and village from the 1920s, offering a unique and eerie experience.

The Story of the Abandoned Zoo and Village

Nestled in Cisco, a town about 100 miles west of Fort Worth, the Old Zoo Nature Trails reveal a slice of history from Cisco’s oil boom era. Established in 1923, the Cisco Zoo wasn’t your typical zoo. It doubled as a cottage campground with a few exotic animals like bears, deer, monkeys, and even a lion. The site boasted amenities like a resort-style pool, dance hall, restaurant, and golf course, attracting both vacationers and locals.

However, tragedy struck in 1925 when the bear was poisoned and the deer died under mysterious circumstances. The zoo’s charm faded, leading to its eventual abandonment. While the pool remained operational until the 1970s, the rest of the zoo and village fell into disrepair over the years.

The Experience of the Hike

In 2021, the nonprofit organization SAFE (Students, Athletics, Families, and Education) revitalized the area, transforming it into hiking trails. Two short loops, each under a mile, now guide visitors through the remnants of the zoo and village. Along the way, you’ll encounter old cages, the pool, cottages, and other structures amid picturesque views of the countryside and lake.

The hike isn’t just scenic; it’s also eerie. Walking among the ruins, you can almost feel the echoes of the past, imagining life nearly a century ago. Nature’s sounds, from chirping birds to rustling leaves, only add to the mystical ambiance.

How to Visit the Old Zoo Nature Trails

The Old Zoo Nature Trails welcome visitors without an admission fee, but reservations are required as the site is unmanned and gated. Contact SAFE in advance to secure your visit. The trails are open from sunrise to sunset, allowing ample time for exploration. Bring your own supplies as there are no on-site facilities, and remember to tread respectfully, honoring both the environment and history.

For directions and additional details, visit the Old Zoo Nature Trails website or AllTrails. You can also take a virtual tour via the Secrets of Texas YouTube channel.


The Old Zoo Nature Trails offer a hauntingly beautiful hike through the remnants of a bygone era. Steeped in history and tragedy, this hidden gem promises an unforgettable adventure among the ghosts of the past.

Leave a Comment