Biking 101 in HTX

It can be scary to ride on a trail or path that you have never been on before. Is it going to be steep, rocky, sandy, wet, populated, have dogs, hikers or even horses?!

Knowing what to expect on a particular trail before you start your ride will give you the confidence to pick up your bike and get out there. I know it does for me.

I was hesitant to ride my mountain at the memorial park trails even though my friends went every week. I thought because they went every week, the trails would be too difficult for me.

Since the trails are multi-use trails, I decided to start walking them first. I got familiar with the trails on my feet so I know where turns would be sketchy on a bike, where tree stumps stood out, and which trails were easier for beginner mountain biking!

Now, I have so much fun riding the easy trails (purple, yellow and red) at Memorial Park. And when I get to spot I am unsure about riding, I just slow to stop, and walk my bike.

NOTE: Although, sometimes it’s easier to ride your bike than walk your bike.

To help you understand what to expect, we have outlined various trails around Houston.

Learn what to bring with you on your ride

Complete biking checklist to get you on the road or trail.

Where to Ride:

City Trails: Think of our "city trails" as the place you would ride your cruiser, hybrid or mountain bike. Some of these trails work great for road bikes, some not so much. Watch for cracks and potholes! Basically, all of our bayous either have or are getting a bike trail along the bayou. Here are a few of the trails that are great to ride on, right now.

Buffalo Bayou Trail - A flagship trail for the new Bayou Trail plans, Buffalo Bayou Trail is a loop from Downtown to Shepherd. With a little extra trail on the east side of downtown. You can enter the east bayou trail either off of Sabine (you need to look for the dirt path at the bridge) or just after the railroad tracks east of downtown. Head east and you will be on a trail that few ever travel. The trail ends near the Harrisburg Bike Trail and you can then follow the Bike Route signs for a few more miles.

Columbia Tap Trail - Head out of downtown from the intersection of Dowling and Walker. You can follow the path south under the 45 freeway elevated and you will connect with the Braes Bayou Trail.

Brays Bayou Trail - is a well-built cement path that is expanding every day. It’s one of my favorite trails. It can be a little confusing where the new trails are being added as you may run into a dead-end here and there and you may have to cross a bridge on the street a time or three, but all in all, a well-built cement path that is expanding. Presently it goes from MacGregor Park all the way to Fondern on the southwest side (which gives you about 40 miles round trip). Early 2017 the Brays Bayou trail from east side and downtown will connect to the MacGregor park trail. You can also take the Columbia Tap north into downtown and then connect with

Buffalo Bayou and White Oak on the north side of town.

Riding the streets of Houston. Bikes are considered vehicles in Houston and are allowed on the city streets. As a vehicle, they must obey all rules of the road. This said, use caution riding on the streets. Houston motorists are not used to seeing bikes on the roads (this is beginning to change). Our Bikeways Trail Map looks a little like a multi-colored bowl of spaghetti but does give you an idea of where trail lanes and trails are.

Road Riding: Terry Hershey & George Bush Parks - together these two connecting parks have about 40 miles (round trip) of riding completely off roads (except for a very small connector road). They can be more congested with walkers, strollers, dogs etc on the east side and then thin out as you travel west. One of the best trails for road bikes in town.

Mountain Bikes: - the best resource for mountain biking in Houston, trail maps, mountain biking advocacy and racing.

Memorial Park - There are about 8 miles of trails that weave in and around the south side of Memorial Drive. The trails are "color-coded" but color does NOT designate difficulty (think snow skiing). Also, these are two-way multi-use trails and can be very busy on the weekends. Remember that cyclists yield to both foot traffic and horses. Also, be very wary of dogs off leash or on flexi-leashes. Bad for the both the riders and the dogs.

Stephen F Austin State Park (SFA) is a hidden gem west of Houston. Though this trail does not feature any technical features to speak of, the layout and flow of the trail make for a fast ride similar to Double Lake. Swooping through the trees along the banks of the Brazos River the trails at SFA are smooth and flowy unlike the root gardens of Houston proper. (compliments of GHORBA)

Huntsville State Park - About 7 miles south of Huntsville. A moderately easy day hike through the woods surrounding Lake Raven. Special attractions: Lake, lush forest. Trailhead at Nature Center.

Double Lake - Only 1 hour away from Houston & over 18 miles of new trails. A 5-mile hiking trail leads to Big Creek Scenic Area, and there is also access to the Lone Star Hiking Trail, which offers an opportunity to see the "back country" of East Texas. There are many places you can jump on the trails from the roads, or go to the Group Lodge and find the main trail head there.

Lake Houston - The Forest Trail, which does not feature much elevation change, is difficult due to its length - 8.82-mile loop. It starts at the parking lot.

There are several Club Rides around town. These rides typically leave from bike shops and average 20 - 25 miles plus. Be warned, if you are not an experienced (and quick) rider, you could get left behind. These rides assume the level of rider is advanced UNLESS they note it on their site. You can find them by checking the different bike shops around town. HTXoutdoors has rides you can join as well. We do not drop our riders, it's just more fun not to!

Ready to ride? Download a Complete Biking Checklist here.houstonoutdoors #HTXoutdoors #cycling #bikelife #ustontx #htx #htown #getoutthere #exploretexas

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