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Hiking in Houston: 19 Amazing Houston Trails

hiking in houston

I recently moved from New York to Texas (slightly north of Houston) and was pleasantly surprised to find an extensive trail system right in the heart of Houston.

My main concern with moving to Texas was that it would be hot and humid all year long, making it difficult to get outside and enjoy nature. However, I’ve found that there are plenty of ways to beat the heat and still enjoy some of the best hiking in Houston.

One of my favorite things about the Houston area is how diverse the landscape is. Within just a few minutes’ drive (you’re going to need a car around here), you can find yourself in a pine forest, next to a bayou, or even in a sandy beach area. This variety makes it easy to find a trail that’s perfect for any mood or activity level.

Houston may be a large and bustling city, but it also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy some stunning hikes. From the urban trails near downtown to more remote areas in the outskirts of town, there is something for everyone when it comes to hiking in Houston.

The 19 Best Trails and Parks for Hiking in Houston:

1. Memorial Park

memorial park hiking in houston
Memorial Park, Image Credit: Pixabay

This sprawling park near downtown Houston is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike. The park offers vast open spaces, wooded areas, and plenty of hills for a good workout. There are miles of trails to explore in Memorial Park, so be sure to bring along a map.

Memorial Park is a great hiking destination for a number of reasons. First, the park is home to a variety of plant and animal life, making it a beautiful place to explore. Second, the park offers a variety of trails to suit all levels of hikers, from beginner to expert. Finally, the park is located in a convenient location, just a short drive from downtown Houston. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, Memorial Park is perfect for enjoying the great outdoors.


2. Buffalo Bayou Park

Image Credit: BrianPotterVideo (Flickr CC)

This park is an excellent spot for a leisurely stroll or run, with flat, paved trails that wind through the park’s scenic views. The park also offers a number of art installations and sculptures for visitors to enjoy.

Buffalo Bayou Park is a popular spot for runners and walkers alike. The flat, paved trails are perfect for an easy jog or walk, and the scenery is simply beautiful. The park is also home to a number of art installations and sculptures, making it a great place to explore.

  • Length in Miles: 10
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • Difficulty: EasyModerate
  • Official Website: Buffalo Bayou Park

3. Discovery Green

Not so much a hiking trail, but rather a 12-acre park located in downtown Houston, Discovery Green is the perfect place for a mid-day break from the hustle and bustle of city life. The park offers a number of amenities, including a playground, an interactive fountain, and plenty of green space to relax or enjoy a picnic lunch.

Discovery Green is also a great place to take your dog for a walk. The park has a designated off-leash area where dogs can run and play.

This park in the heart of downtown Houston is a great place to take a break from shopping or sightseeing. The 12-acre park features a playground, dog park, and plenty of green space to relax.

The park also has a 1.5-mile walking loop, making it the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or a brisk walk.

  • Length in Miles: .07 to 2.5
  • Elevation Gain: 5 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Official Website: Discovery Green

4. Armand Bayou Nature Center

This 2,500-acre nature center is a great place to see some of the unique wildlife that call Houston home. The nature center features hiking trails, canoe rentals, and a variety of educational programs.

The Armand Bayou Nature Center is a great destination for those interested in learning about the natural history of the Houston area. The nature center is also home to a variety of events throughout the year, so be sure to check the calendar before you visit.


5. Brazos Bend State Park

Image Credit: BFS Man (Flickr CC)

This state park features several trails for hikers of all levels of experience, making it a great place to spend a day outdoors. The park is also home to a variety of animal life, including turtles, birds, and even alligators!

  • Length in Miles: 1 to 16
  • Elevation Gain: 5 to 220 ft
  • Difficulty: EasyModerate
  • Official Website: Brazos Bend State Park

6. George Bush Park

This 7,800-acre park in west Houston is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. The park features hiking and biking trails, as well as a nature center and an outdoor education program.

George Bush Park is a great destination for those looking for a challenge, as the park offers some of the most difficult hiking trails in Houston. The park is also home to a variety of events throughout the year, so be sure to check the calendar before you visit.

  • Length in Miles: 1 to 7.7
  • Elevation Gain: 5 to 256 ft
  • Difficulty: EasyModerate
  • Official Website: George Bush Park

7. White Oak Bayou Greenway

This 10-mile greenway is a great place to escape the heat of the city. The greenway features a number of trails, as well as a playground and picnic area.

The White Oak Bayou Greenway is a great destination for families, as there is something for everyone to enjoy. The greenway is also conveniently located, making it easy to get to from downtown Houston.


8. Terry Hershey Park

Image Credit: jimw7 (Flickr CC)

This park is located along the banks of the Buffalo Bayou and features more than 10 miles of trails. The terrain is relatively flat, making it a good choice for those looking for an easy hike.

Terry Hershey Park is also a great place to take your dog for a walk. The park has a designated off-leash area where dogs can run and play.

This park in the heart of downtown Houston is a great place to take a break from shopping or sightseeing. The 12-acre park features a playground, dog park, and plenty of green space to relax.

The park has several trails for all difficulties, making it the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or a moderate hike.

  • Length in Miles: 2.2 to 13.2
  • Elevation Gain: 5 to 255 ft
  • Difficulty: EasyModerate
  • Official Website: Terry Hershey Park

9. Cullen Park

Cullen Park is another large park in Houston that offers more than 4,000 acres of space to explore. The park has a variety of trails, as well as a lake where you can go fishing or canoeing.

Cullen Park is also home to a number of events throughout the year, so be sure to check the calendar before you visit.

  • Length in Miles: 1 to 8
  • Elevation Gain: 5 to 75 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Official Website: Cullen Park

10. Sam Houston National Forest

sam houston national forest hiking in houston
Sam Houston National Forest, Image Credit: Shutterstock

This national forest is located just outside of Houston and offers more than 200,000 acres of land to explore. The forest has a number of trails for hikers of all levels of experience and campsites and cabins for those looking to stay overnight.

Sam Houston National Forest is also home to a variety of animals, including deer, raccoons, and bobcats.


11. Lake Houston State Park

This state park is located just outside of Houston and offers more than 4,000 acres of space to explore. The park has a number of trails for hikers of all levels of experience, as well as a lake where you can go fishing or canoeing.

Lake Houston State Park is also home to a number of events throughout the year, so be sure to check the calendar before you visit.

  • Length in Miles: 1 to 16
  • Elevation Gain: 5 to 250 ft
  • Difficulty: EasyModerate
  • Official Website: Lake Houston State Park

12. Big Thicket National Preserve

big thicket national preserve hiking in houston
Big Thicket National Preserve, Image Credit: Shutterstock

This national preserve is located about two hours east of Houston and offers more than 100,000 acres of space. The preserve has a variety of trails that lead through thick forests and offer glimpses of the area’s wildlife.

The Big Thicket is considered to be one of the most biologically diverse areas in the United States and is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals.


13. Huntsville State Park

This park is located about an hour and a half north of Houston and offers more than 2,000 acres of space. The park has a variety of trails that wind through forests, prairies, and wetlands.

Huntsville State Park is also home to a number of historical sites, including the Sam Houston Monument and the Texas Prison Museum.

  • Length in Miles: 2.5 to 13
  • Elevation Gain: 50 to 334 ft
  • Difficulty: EasyModerate
  • Official Website: Huntsville State Park

14. Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Image Credit: adamreeder (Flickr CC)

This refuge is located just south of Houston and is home to more than 360 species of birds. Visitors can enjoy hiking and biking trails, as well as fishing and wildlife observation opportunities. The refuge also offers a nature center that provides information about the area’s wildlife.


15. Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge is located about two hours west of Houston and offers nearly 30,000 acres of space. The refuge has a variety of trails that lead through wooded areas and meadows.

The refuge is also home to several threatened and endangered species, including the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo.


16. Dinosaur Valley State Park

dinosaur valley state park hiking in houston
Dinosaur Valley State Park, Image Credit: Shutterstock

This state park is located about two hours northwest of Houston and features more than 1,500 acres of space. The park has a variety of trails that wind through wooded areas and offer views of the area’s dinosaur tracks.

Although you won’t find any live dinosaurs here, this park is known for its preserved dinosaur tracks, some of the best-preserved in the world.


17. Galveston Island State Park

This state park is located on Galveston Island and offers more than 1,000 acres of space. The park has a variety of trails that lead through sand dunes, wetlands, and coastal forests.

The park is also home to a number of bird species, including the piping plover and the American oystercatcher.


18. Lake Corpus Christi State Park

This state park is located about three hours south of Houston and offers more than 2,000 acres of space. The park has a few trails that wind through wooded areas and offer views of the lake.

The park is also home to several bird species, including the brown pelican and the roseate spoonbill.


19. Padre Island National Seashore

This national seashore is located on Padre Island and offers more than 70,000 acres of space. The seashore has a variety of trails that lead through beaches, dunes, and wetlands.

The seashore is also home to a number of bird species, including the black-necked stilt and the American avocet.


5 Tips for Hiking in Houston

Now, I’d like to share a few tips for those who want to thoroughly enjoy a hike in the Houston area.

1. Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather. From my experience, the weather in Houston can sometimes be a bit volatile. It’ll be 50 degrees in the morning and evenings but 85 degrees during the day.

2. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Make sure to stay hydrated and fueled up while hiking, especially in the summer months. I bring my Hydroflask with me, everywhere.

3. Use sunscreen and insect repellent. The sun can be quite strong in Texas, and you’ll also want to protect yourself from mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects.

4. Stay on the trails. There are a lot of critters in Houston that you don’t want to encounter on a hike, so make sure to stay on the trails at all times.

5. Stay safe. Make sure you let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If something happens and you’re unable to make it back, they can send help.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiking in Houston

Are there mountains in Houston?

No, there are no mountains in Houston. The highest point in the city is only about 150 feet above sea level.

Does Houston have elevation gain?

Houston does not have a lot of elevation gain, so it’s a great place to hike if you’re new to the activity. However, some areas in the surrounding suburbs do offer more challenging hikes.

What should I bring with me on a hike in Houston?

If you’re going on a leisurely hike, all you’ll need is water and snacks. If you’re going on a more challenging hike, make sure to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, a first-aid kit, and plenty of water.

Can I bring my dog on the trails in Houston?

Yes, most of the trails in Houston are pet-friendly. Just make sure you keep your pet on a leash at all times. And, of course, check the official website of the trail you’re planning to hike to make sure that pets are allowed.

What is the best time of year to hike in Houston?

The best time of year to hike in Houston is during the fall when the weather is cool, and the leaves are changing color. You can take on summer hikes if you’re up for it but be prepared for the heat and humidity. Heat stroke can be a real danger here.

As a matter of fact, there was a day during the summer months when I couldn’t even walk my puppy for 15 minutes without having to turn back.

What are some good beginner trails in Houston?

There are a number of beginner trails in Houston, including the Bayou Trail, Memorial Park Loop Trail, and Terry Hershey Park Hike and Bike Trail.

Are there venomous snakes in Houston?

There are two species of venomous snakes in Houston: the cottonmouth and the copperhead. Both of these snakes are found in wooded areas and near water, so it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings when hiking. If you come across a snake, it’s best to give it a wide berth and avoid disturbing it. If a venomous snake bites you, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Are there ticks in Houston?

Yes, ticks are common in Houston, so it’s important to take precautions against them. Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and use an insect repellent that contains DEET. If you find a tick on your skin, remove it with tweezers and dispose of it in a sealed container. If you develop a rash or fever after being bitten by a tick, seek medical attention immediately.

Are there alligators in Houston?

Yes, there are alligators in Houston. They are most commonly found in the bayous and waterways near the city, but they have been known to wander into neighborhoods. If you see an alligator, it’s essential to keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing it.

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