Escape Into Nature Without Leaving the Metro Area: Houston’s Best Hiking Trails
by Carolynn Waites
Mar 17, 2014
Do you want to escape from the city without leaving the city? Houston has several hiking trails that can take you back to nature without having to leave the metropolitan area. These three popular hiking trails are good for all levels, so anyone can get out on them and lose themselves in nature for an hour or two.
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is an oasis within an oasis in the city of Houston. Located within Memorial Park, the nature center has many different trails. The most popular trail with hikers is the Outer Loop trail. This smooth, unpaved two-mile loop encircles the arboretum and gets you away from the more crowded trails in Memorial Park. The southern portion of the trail has a remote feel to it and you can forget that the big city surrounds you. Entrance to the Houston Arboretum is free and the trails are open seven days a week from 7:00am to dusk. Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are kept on a leash at all times. Parking is free, but fills up quickly on weekends. There is additional free parking one-quarter mile away in the Running Lot in Memorial Park.
Armand Bayou Nature Center
Armand Bayou Nature Center is in the Clear Lake Area. The Armand Bayou/Holly Bay trail is a crushed-limestone five-mile long point-to-point trail located within the 2,500-acre nature preserve. Following the trail will take you through this region’s different original ecosystems including wetlands, tall grass prairies, and bottomland forest. Armand Bayou Nature Center is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the Nature Center. Entrance fees are $4.00 for ages 13 to 59 years old. There are discounts for younger children and seniors age 60 and up. Three years old and under get free admission. There is plenty of parking inside the gates.
Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens
Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens is located on the north side of Houston in Humble. Aldine Westfield Road divides the 325-acre park into a west side and east side. Both sides feature crushed gravel loop trails that consist of smaller loops. The trails run alongside Cypress Creek. The trail on the west side of the park is two and a quarter miles if you hike the entire loop. Dogs on a leash are allowed on the trails on the west side of the park. The trail on the east side of the park takes you through the Botanic Gardens. The entire east side loop is one and a half miles long. Dogs are not allowed on the east side of the park. Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens is open seven days a week from 8:00am to dusk during March through October and 8:00am to 5:00pm during November through February. Entrance is free and there is parking available in the park.
Additional Information on these trails and others: AllTrails