We all have that voice in our head that hold us back from time to time…some louder and crazier than others! A little while back, we asked Houstonians what’s holding them back from hiking in the great outdoors of Houston. Many of you chimed back with the same answers.
1. There’s nowhere to hike in Houston.
Wrong! We may not host the Rocky Mountain ranges like Colorado, but Houston has its own outdoor scene to be proud of! The trick is resetting your expectations. You won’t be hiking up any mountains here, but you can find some great parks within and right outside our big city with long, meandering trails, beautiful trees and some interesting wildlife. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of alligator sightings in Colorado! 😊
The point is… take advantage of what’s in front of you.
We’ve also got an abundant amount of lakes to paddleboard in, camping grounds to roast those s’mores and drink those craft beers we love so much, and relatively warm weather almost all year long to take advantage of it all! As the fourth largest city in the United States with approximately 2 million people, Houston does quite an impressive job of creating and maintaining places that allow us to feel like we’re escaping the big city.
A great example of this is Memorial Park. You may know Memorial Park for its 3-mile dirt loop, which is usually populated with runners at all times of the day. However, this park also features over six miles of inner dirt trails for mountain biking, trail running and casual hiking.
Here are some others you might want to try:
- Armand Bayou: Over five miles of hiking trails through a variety of ecosystems; explore the prairie, forest and bayou.
- Bay Area Park: Southeast of downtown Houston; wooded flagstone trails, an Oasis garden, and gorgeous views of Armand Bayou.
- Brazos Bend State Park: 4,897-acre state park in Needville, a short drive southwest of Houston. Hosts a 15.8-mile loop trail that’s adjacent to both 40 Acre Lake and Elm Lake.
- Buffalo Bayou Trail: 20 miles of hiking and biking trails along Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston.
- Challenger Seven Memorial Park: Named after the seven NASA astronauts who lost their lives in the 1986 Challenger explosion, you will feel like you're on another planet in its 326 green acres.
- Frankie Carter Randolph Park: Friendswood-area park with spectacular nature trails, plus access to tennis courts and pavilions.
- Houston Arboretum & Nature Center: Nine incredible trails where you can take self-guided tours. Check out the Palmetto multi-sensory trail for sightseeing and the two-mile Outer Loop trail which rivals that of Memorial Park.
- Lake Houston Wilderness Park: Expansive 4,786-acre Lake Wilderness Park has a picturesque 12 miles of nature to walk in. The trail will also bring you down to Peach Creek, where you can get excellent views of wildlife.
- Lake Livingston State Park: Home of the Pineywood Natural Trail and Livingston Trail that takes you hiking through waterways and a butterfly garden.
- Terry Hershey Park: In West Houston near Katy, this park follows Buffalo Bayou and gives way to the 5-mile Quail Trail, where you'll find multiple access points with parking and water fountains to make the adventure easy for nearby commuters after work.
2. It’s too hot…humid…wet!
Whatcha talkin bout Willis?! Yes, summer is going to be as hot as Hades, but it’s spring time baby! Your perfect hiking season has arrived. The trails have been more wet than usual, thanks to some not so normal weather (cough, cough Harvey), but our Texas sun is going to dry all of that up if it hasn’t already. Heading out on the trails now is imperative if you want to take advantage of the summertime. It’s all about acclimation! The more you are consistently out and about now, the more time your body will have to progressively adapt to the temperatures as they warm up heading into June.
I mean let’s think about this logically. Have you ever been out on a hike and seen a woman carrying one of those baby backpacks up a steep hill or mountain? You were probably thinking, dang I can barely get my booty up here, let alone another human being…this woman is a beast! Well, she may have been a beast, but she also didn’t just wake up one day and pick that baby up and decide to climb a mountain. No, she’s been carrying the weight of that baby for over nine months, and every day since it’s grown outside her belly. It's the same thing with our weather.
Beat the shock, and enjoy the wild flowers sprouting everywhere along the trails while you do it! Also, keep in mind that with hot weather there are always way you can help yourself. As Bobby Booshay would agree, it’s all about H20, you can never hydrate enough, and I’ll add sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to his list.
3. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing.
Lucky for you that we do! We did a three day video series explaining how to read trail maps and where to go hiking. Plus some basic lingo so you sound like an expert.
Looking for someone to hike with?
HTXoutdoors is an awesome group of Houstonians in their 20-30s who do know where to go and what to do, and how to have a blast doing it! Camping, hiking, biking, trail running, yoga, kayaking, SUP, wakeboarding, pub crawling, backpacking, overseas trips and more- we do it all and you’re invited.
Join us on our next hike!
Although, we’re a members-only group, some of our hiking events are open to the public each month. Such as Hiking Zen (hiking & yoga with view). The next Hiking Zen is in Brazos Bend State Park. Click here for a spot! If you’re reading this after the hike, click here for a full list of upcoming public events.