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Explore This Creepy Abandoned Zoo In Texas At Your Own Risk

Imagine walking through a place that was once full of laughter and joy, now silent and eerie. 

Hidden in the heart of Texas lies a place that feels like stepping into a forgotten world – an abandoned zoo that time forgot. 

The atmosphere is creepy, yet fascinating, as nature slowly reclaims what was once a bustling haven for families. 

Imagine walking through the crumbling enclosures, peeking into empty habitats and hearing the whispers of history in the rustling leaves. 

If you’re ready for a spine-tingling adventure, come along as we explore the secrets of this creepy abandoned zoo.


This place is the former Cisco Zoo, located in Cisco which sits around 1.5 hours west of Fort Worth.

The story of this abandoned zoo starts back in the early 20th century. 

The zoo first opened its gates in 1923, at a time when people were fascinated by exotic animals and nature. 

It was opened on the site of a dam and the first few animals, which included a deer and a bear, were donated.

Families from all over Texas would come to see the amazing creatures and enjoy a fun day out. 

When it first opened, the zoo was considered to be one of the most exciting attractions in the area.

It had all sorts of animals, from flamingos to monkeys and bears.

Kids would run from one exhibit to the next, eyes wide with wonder, while parents enjoyed the peaceful, park-like setting. 

The zoo wasn’t just about the animals though. 

There was also a huge swimming pool, an amusement park, an ice rink and stone cottages where people could stay overnight.

At the time, the pool was the world’s largest man-made swimming pool as it was the size of two football fields.

People could spend an entire day there, making memories and learning about the natural world. 

It was a place of joy and excitement, bustling with life and laughter.

However, as the years went by, things started to change. 

The zoo didn’t last long as in the 1930s, it became the site of a murder mystery!

A bear was poisoned and to this day, nobody knows why or how it happened.

Not long after, a deer also died in unusual circumstances.

Following these controversies, the once lively paths grew quiet and many of the animals were moved to other zoos. 

Finally, in the 1930s, the decision was made to close the zoo for good. 

The gates were shut and the place that had once been full of life was left to the elements.

Since then, nature has taken over. 

The enclosures are empty, the buildings are crumbling and the gardens are overgrown. 

Yet, there’s something captivating about this forgotten place. 

Interestingly, the large swimming pool continued to operate until the 1970s but it slowly fell into a state of disrepair.

The Hiking Trail

Today, the abandoned zoo has been transformed into a fascinating hiking trail, known as the Old Zoo Nature Trails.

In 2021, a non profit organization called SAFE cleaned up the old site and turned it into a hiking area.

As you walk through, it’s like stepping into a forgotten world where nature has reclaimed its territory. 

The once bustling zoo is now a quiet, eerie place, filled with overgrown plants and crumbling structures.

As you start your hike, you’ll notice the old enclosures and cages that used to house the animals. 

Rusty bars and broken fences are all that remain of the once lively animal habitats. 

Vines and moss cover the walls, giving the place a spooky, haunted feel. 

The pathways are still visible but they are cracked and uneven, with weeds poking through.

You’ll come across the old stone cottages where people used to stay, now empty and silent. 

You can also see what remains of the swimming pool which today is filled with murky green water along with its spindly diving platform in the center.

The hiking trail is about 1.5 miles long and is considered to be an easy trail.

There are some steep sections and uneven ground so it’s important to wear good hiking shoes. 

The trail winds through the entire abandoned zoo, giving you a chance to see all the forgotten corners and hidden spots.

As you explore, you might hear the rustle of leaves and the calls of wild animals that now make this place their home. 

There’s also a fun scavenger hunt set up for kids where they have to search the old zoo for 10 animal medallions hidden along the trails.

It’s a strange mix of creepy and beautiful, with nature taking over the man-made structures.

Expect to spend about 1-2 hours on the trail, depending on how much you stop to explore and take pictures. 

There are also lots of offshoots and side trails you can explore if you want to extend your trip.

It’s a good idea to bring water and maybe a snack, as there are no facilities or shops in the area. 

The hiking trail offers a pretty unique adventure.

It blends the eerie history of the abandoned zoo with the beauty of nature. 

Know Before You Go

Before you set off to explore the abandoned zoo, here are some important things you need to know:

Opening Times

The trails are open year round from sunrise to sunset. 

It’s best to visit during daylight hours for safety and to get the best views.


Good news! 

There is no entrance fee to hike the trails. 

It’s completely free to explore this hidden gem.


There is a small gravel parking lot near the entrance of the trails. 

Parking is free but it can fill up quickly, especially on weekends, so try to arrive early.


Dogs are allowed on the trails but they must be kept on a leash at all times. 

Make sure to clean up after your pet to keep the trails clean for everyone.

How to Get There

The abandoned zoo is located in a quiet part of Cisco in North Texas. 

Here’s the exact address: Co Rd 112, Cisco, TX 76437

The trail starts in a gravel parking lot just off the highway near Williamson Dam and Lake Cisco. 

It’s about 4-miles north of the town.

Look for signs directing you to the Old Zoo Nature Trails. 

If you’re coming from the city, it should be an easy drive with clear roads.

What to Bring 

Wear comfortable hiking shoes as the trails can be uneven and steep in places. 

Bring plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen and maybe a snack. 

Since there are no facilities, it’s a good idea to be prepared.

With these tips in mind, you’re all set for an unforgettable experience. 

Enjoy your hike and the mysterious beauty of this hidden Texas treasure!

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Tom Jackson

Tom was born in San Antonio but spent most of his childhood in Dallas, he has lived in several cities across Texas and joined the team in 2024 to create travel guides on Texas.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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