Hiking in Houston: 15 Best Hiking Spots & Trails in and Around the City

Even though Houston is largely a metropolitan area with few open spaces, there are some which are perfect for a relaxing day out and also suitable for getting some exercise. One of the most preferred recreational or fitness-related activities that both locals and tourists alike in the city is hiking. When it comes to hiking in Houston, there are some hidden spots in and around the city which are perfect for the activity.

Best Hiking Spots & Trails in Houston

Despite being an urban jungle, you will find some parks and hiking trails littered around Houston, which are ideal for taking a walk amidst nature. Here are 15 of them:

1. Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail

The dense trees at Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail

About 10.7 miles long, the Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail is situated along the Buffalo Bayou and offers about a long hiking trail. You can spend hours walking around amidst the thick trees and also get onto the concrete roads to cycle if you get tired of walking on the gravel trail. The Trail is linked to the George Bush Park and Bike Trail which means you get another 11 miles of a hiking trail. The site also features exercise stations, picnic areas, a playground and restrooms.
Address: 15200 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079, United States
End points: Barker Dam and Texas 8 Beltway
Length of trail: 10 miles

2. Buffalo Bayou Park

The waters at Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park is a huge municipal park close to downtown Houston which spans over an area of 160 acres. It provides an excellent view of the city skyline and has several trails which are ideal for hiking as well as biking. Moreover, the fully-equipped dog park, picnic area, skate park, children’s playground and overall greenery make for a fun day out. You can also go and check out the Houston Police Officer’s Memoria, The Cistern, Waugh Bridge Bat Colony.
Address: 1800 Allen Pkwy &, Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77019, United States
Timings: 6:00 am to 11:00 pm
Length of trail: 4.8 miles

3. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

A path at Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

Situated within Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center has miles of trails set amidst nature; a pond, forest, wetland and meadow habitats. It is a wonderful place if you wish to be in nature since it also has speciality gardens like Sensory Garden, Wildlife Garden and Hummingbird & Butterfly Garden. You would pass several species of plants and animals as you go on your hike.
Address: 4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024, United States
Timings: 7:00 am to 6:30 pm
Length of trail: 5 miles

4. Memorial Park

An aerial view of Memorial Park

1,466 acres big, Memorial Park, is a municipal park and one of the largest in the country which has a loop trail through the woods trails towards the south Memorial Drive which are perfect for hiking. Besides this, you can take advantage of the running course, volleyball, softball, swimming, tennis, cycling and other such facilities. The park is also home to the Memorial Park Golf Course, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, Becks Prime and other attractions.
Address: 6501 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77007, United States
Timings: 6:00 am to 11:00 pm
Length of trail: 2.88 miles

5. Hiking Area

The popular Hiking Area

When it comes to hiking in Houston, Hiking Area is a relatively less-known location popular for its easy-to-navigate trails which are several miles long. The area is quite quiet and offers some respite from the busy city, and the trees on the trail are marked so as to keep you on track. As you continue on the trail, you will come across several animal and plant species. What’s more, it is dog friendly, so you can bring your pets along with you.
Address: Eldridge to Langham Creek, Houston, TX 77084, United States

6. White Oak Bayou Trail

The lush green White Oak Bayou Trail

One of the most popular trails in Houston, White Oak Bayou Trail is quite long and comprises several overpasses. It goes through several parts of the city and offers people a little bit of greenery in the form of long stretches of grassy land. The trails here are paved and are suitable for walking or biking along with hiking. You can also just sit somewhere on the grass and take in the views of the water and the city.
Address: White Oak Bayou Trail, Houston, TX 77088, United States
End points: Shady Grove Lane and Buffalo Bayou Greenway Trail
Length of trail: 17 miles

7. Lake Houston Wilderness Park

The waters at Lake Houston Wilderness Park

Lake Houston Wilderness Park is a massive parkland which spans out over an area of about 4,786 acres. It has long trails which are suitable for hiking, biking and also horse riding. It is about 30 minutes from the city centre and also offers other recreational activities like overnight camping, kayaking, and more. The Ameri-Trail Forest Loop is quite popular since it is dog-friendly and looks over the river.
Address: 25840 FM 1485, New Caney, TX 77357, United States
Timings: 7:00 am to 6:00 pm (Sunday- Monday, Wednesday- Thursday), 7:00 am to 8:00 pm (Friday- Saturday), Tuesday closed
Length of trail: 20 miles

8. Martin Dies Jr. State Park

Cabins at the Martin Dies Jr. State Park

Martin Dies Jr. State Park is a heavily wooded area with about 6 different hiking trails situated 2 hours away from Houston bordering Louisiana. You can camp on the site and supplement your hiking trip with wildlife watching since it is home to white-tailed deer, raccoons, bobcats, loblolly pines, bald cypress, Southern magnolia and other kinds of flora and fauna. The vast forest can be explored for hours, and you can also go swimming, fishing, cycling, playing volleyball etc. Stargazing is a popular activity here. 
Address: 634 Park Road 48 South, Jasper, TX 75951, United States
Timings: 7:00 am to 10:00 pm
Length of trail: Over 3 miles

9. Sam Houston National Forest

A trail at the Sam Houston National Forest

Sam Houston National Forest is about 50 miles away from Houston and is one of four national forests in Texas. It features extensive hiking trails, with the Lone Star Hiking Trail being one of the most popular. These trails have aluminium markers so as to guide hikers, and there are often camping sites close to them. The massive park is great if you are looking to escape the city and visit a quiet and shady area where you can discover different kinds of flora and fauna. Lake Conroe is known for kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and other kinds of water sports.
Address: 394 FM 1375 West, New Waverly, TX 77358, United States
Timings: 8:00 am to 11:30 pm, 12:00 noon to 4:30 pm, Saturday- Sunday closed
Length of trail: 128 miles

10. Galveston Island State Park

A trail near the lake at Galveston Island State Park

About an hour away from Houston, Galveston Island State Park is ideal for a coastal hike since it is located on the wester Gulf Coast. The trails here are quite long and offer views of beaches, wetlands, dunes, estuaries, brackish and fresh-water ponds and more. Since it is a green area, there are several birds here like herons and pelicans and you can spend time wildlife watching. Since it is near the water, you can go canoeing, paddle boarding and kayaking. 
Address: 14901 FM3005, Galveston, TX 77554, United States
Timings: 7:00 am to 10:00 pm
Length of trail: 15 miles

11. Big Thicket

A path in Big Thicket

Big Thicket is located quite close to Martin Dies Jr. State Park with miles of hiking trails providing views of creeks, bayous, marshy lands, as well as the Neches River. The 84,000-acre park is ideal for wildlife watching since it comprises various plant and animal species like alligators, turtles, carnivorous march plants, coral beans, jaguars and more. You can also bring your pets along with you and go canoeing and kayaking here.
Address: FM 420, Kountze, TX 77625, United States
Timings: 24 hours
Length of trail: 40 miles

12. Bastrop State Park

The lake at Bastrop State Park

If you don’t mind driving about 2 hours outside of Houston, Bastrop State Park in Bastrop County has close to 6 miles worth of trails which run through the park’s undeveloped area perfect for hiking. Furthermore, the area has a swimming pool open during the summers, a golf course, and several species of flora and fauna that you can discover. In fact, the park is often called the “Lost Pine of Texas” since it has a large number of loblolly pines, junipers and post oak.
Address: 100 Park Road 1A, Bastrop, TX 78602, United States
Timings: 6:00 am to 10:00 pm
Length of trail: 5.8 miles

13. Armand Bayou Nature Center

Roads within the Armand Bayou Nature Center

Armand Bayou Nature Center is a 2,500-acre nature reserve in Pasadena and southeast Houston, and one of the largest in the country. It is home to miles and miles of trails ideal for hiking and the numerous species of plant, animals and birds make for a wonderful wildlife watching experience. There is an admission fee applies for the Center, and it offers tours of the grounds which includes a bat hike wherein visitors can watch the local bats fly around. 
Address: 8500 Bay Area Blvd, Pasadena, TX 77507, United States
Timings: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Wednesday- Sunday), 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm (Sunday), Monday- Tuesday closed
Length of trail: 5 miles

14. San Jacinto Trail Loop

The peaceful San Jacinto Trail Loop

If you are interested in going for a small hike through Dwight D. Eisenhower Park, the San Jacinto Trail Loop is the perfect option. It is over 3 miles long and is relatively less challenging; it is a combination of a paved road and a grassy path. As you walk on the trail, you would pass swampy parts known as “seasonal wetlands,” and you may pass deer and hawks depending on when you visit the park.
Address: 13416 Walton Rd, Houston, TX 77044, United States
Timings: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm (Summers), 7:00 am to 6:00 pm (Winters)
Length of the trail: 3.2 miles

15. Brazos Bend State Park

A Brazos Bend State Park trail

Situated close to Houston, Brazos Bend State Park spans out over an area of 4,897 acres. It is a popular park for hiking and also hosts several bird and photography hikes as well as guided hikes of the Creek field Lake. Moreover, it features part of coastal prairie, a bottomland forest, wetlands, lakes, marshlands, and several animal and bird species like raccoons, armadillos, North America river otters, American alligators, butterflies etc. Different kinds of events are hosted here throughout the year to educate the public on the flora and fauna.
Address: 21901 Farm to Market Rd 762, Needville, TX 77461, United States
Timings: 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
Length of trail: 37 miles

Things to Keep in Mind while Hiking

A group of people hiking

Whether you have been hiking for a long time or have just started getting into it, there are some points you should always keep in mind to ensure a pleasant experience. Here are some of those points:
  1. Keeping the essentials: Hiking is a demanding activity and it is key that you are prepared for nearly anything you may face while out there. You must never go on a hiking trip without keeping certain essential items with you. These include a flashlight and a headlamp, a water bottle, warm clothing, a first aid kit, sunscreen and mosquito repellant, extra pair of socks, snacks, and a plastic bag to throw your waste in.
  2. Hiking with company: If you are interested in going on a hike, it is best to have someone accompany you, especially someone who has experience hiking. If you are hurt or are facing difficulties while hiking, having someone else with you can be of great help.
  3. Staying with the group: Linked to the 1st point, always stay with your group and do not wander off somewhere, especially without informing them. More often than not, there is no cell reception in such areas and you may not be able to contact someone.
  4. Finding the right trail: As a beginner, do not start with a difficult and rocky trail since you may find it hard to walk the entire distance and easily get discouraged. Instead, find a shorter and less uneven trail and work your way towards ones which are more difficult.
  5. Going at a reasonable hour: It is necessary that you go hiking during the day time when there is ample sunlight and there is clear visibility. This will prevent you from getting lost and help you notice any animals approaching. 
  6. Making sure the trail is suitable for hiking: One of the most important things to keep in mind is checking to make sure that the trails are suitable for hiking. Depending on where you are, if you don’t check up on this beforehand, you may be met with snowed-in or muddy trails, making it impossible to hike.
  7. Wearing suitable clothes: Always wear suitable clothing when you go on a hike; it is advisable to wear clothes that cover your arms and legs and to wear shoes meant specifically for the activity. If you do not cover yourself properly, you may be bitten by insects, mosquitoes, or may easily get hurt from hanging branches.
  8. Checking for parking: If the trail isn’t close to where you live, make sure to check in advance if there is parking available nearby so you can drive there without worrying about what to do with the car. If there aren’t any parking options, take public transportation.
  9. Not carrying a heavy backpack: While you cannot skip out on carrying the essential items, you need to ensure that your backpack isn’t too heavy since it could tire you out faster and could make it difficult for you to go far.
If you want to go hiking in Houston, don’t be fooled by the fact that it is a metropolitan city since it has its fair share of parks and trails. While some of them are in the city itself, others are a short drive away, and you will undoubtedly have fun time hiking.

This post was published by Arushi Bhowmick

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