Spring is in the air; the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the allergens are waging war on our sinuses. Be sure to take full advantage of the cool, inviting weather before it gets too hot by exploring the best hiking in Houston.
1. Buffalo Bayou Park
For the most local hiking experience in Houston, Buffalo Bayou Park features 160 acres of green space between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive. The park offers a couple different trails for walkers, joggers, and cyclists; see the Sandy Reed Memorial Trails on either side of the bayou and the Kinder Footpath along the bayou’s banks – all with the beautiful downtown skyline as a backdrop.
Over the course of the next decade, the park will expand eastward with coming parks, trails, cultural hot spots, and more.
2. White Oak Bayou Greenway and Trail
Named one of the best ‘5 Urban Trails That Connect U.S. Cities to the Great Outdoors’ by Afar, White Oak Bayou Greenway and Trail features 17 miles of hiking-and-biking paths meandering through green space. Situated between The Heights and Rice Military, the trail runs alongside the White Oak Bayou and offers (at times) scenic, if not peaceful views.
3. Armand Bayou Nature Center
The Armand Bayou Nature Center is one of the largest urban wilderness preserve in the US with 2,500 acres of natural wetlands, marsh, and prairie ecosystems. Located in Pasadena, ABNC offers a number of different hiking trail experiences including a 1 -2-hour Discovery Loop through the aforementioned habitats, as well as a longer trails and loops through the rest of its gorgeous grounds.
4. Lake Houston Wilderness Park
North of Houston about 30 miles, Lake Houston Wilderness Park is a forested expanse with about 5,000 acres of lush natural beauty. The park offers over 20 miles of hiking, biking, and running trails. Camping, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, and birding are also available experiences at Lake Houston Wilderness Park.
5. Brazos Bend State Park
Located a mere 45 miles from Downtown, Houston, Brazos Bend State Park is an understated natural gem. Spanning nearly 5,000 acres, the natural park follows along the Brazos River 37 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback trails – some of which are wheelchair-friendly.
While in the area, you can do an exploration of the stargazing kind at the George Observatory.
6. Galveston Island State Park
Reopened last year after undergoing various upgrades and renovations, Galveston Island State Park spans 2,000 acres beach to bay. Among its varied habitats – and opportunities for fishing, kayaking, or canoeing – are miles of trails over marches and dunes.
7. Memorial Park
Considered one of the best urban parks in the city, Memorial Park features the highly popular 2.9-mile, Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail. This past February, the park officially opened its remarkable Land Bridge and Prairie – a 100-acre green space over Memorial Drive.
8. Terry Hershey Park
Terry Hershey Park is a wooded hiking and biking area situated on the banks of Buffalo Bayou in Memorial. The park, renowned for its biking trails – particularly the off-road Anthills Trail – features over 12 miles of lighted walking trails in a lush setting.
9. Sam Houston National Forest
Located 50 miles north of Houston, Sam Houston National Forest is one of only four national forests in Texas. The area encompasses over 160,000 acres of timber lands across Huntsville, Conroe, Richards, and Cleveland, Texas.
It’s a popular place for hiking as the home to the 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail. Along the way, hikers can enjoy sites of meandering streams, rivers, creeks, and lakes through the Sam Houston National Forest.
10. McGovern Centennial Gardens
McGovern Centennial Gardens is an oasis that offers one of the most resplendent urban hikes in Houston. It features 490 trees of 50 species, 760 hedge shrubs, 55,000 perennial bulbs, 650 azaleas, and 4.5 acres of grass – not to mention its four dazzling gardens. Enter through the Peter Bohlin-designed Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion.