5 of our favorite Houston hiking trails

From short loop trails to longer hike-and-bike trails, there's a Houston hiking trail for everyone.

Photo of Rebecca Treon

With its thriving food scene, unique museums, live sports and everything else the Houston has to offer, hiking may not be first on a list of activities you associate with the Bayou City. But there are actually plenty of great trails for residents and guests to take on.

These trails, coupled with the advantages of a city that enjoys year-round outdoor weather, can be quite enjoyable for weekend warriors, nature enthusiasts and those just looking to get out and explore the Greater Houston area.

Wherever you trek, you'll discover plenty of beautiful spots amid Houston's bayou backdrop. Keep reading for 5 of our favorites.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Trail

If you don’t want to stray too far out of town but still want to enjoy some time outdoors, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is a great option. Situated in the Memorial Park neighborhood, this underrated spot has a network of trails that covers five miles. The trails are wide, well-maintained and paved or boardwalk-style, which is great for accessibility.

Houston Arboretum Nature Center landscape view.

Houston Arboretum Nature Center landscape view.

DuyDo/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The longest trail is a 1.76-mile loop around the entire park, but no matter which trail you choose, this is a great place to spot flora and fauna. The conservation area is fun for all ages—there are tons of adult and family programs, from a Sip & Stroll through the park with adult beverages to guided hikes and day camps for kids. 

Find it: 4501 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX 77024-7708; 713-681-8433

Baytown Nature Center

Baytown, only 20 miles east of Houston, is home to the Baytown Nature Center which is situated on a 450-acre peninsula surrounded by Burnet, Crystal and Scott Bays. Noted for its birding, its hardwood uplands, tidal marsh and freshwater wetlands provide a habitat for 317 species of resident and migratory birds. The area also features seven miles of hiking trails perfect for day hikes. 

San Jacinto Monument, Deer Park,Texas, near Houston. Shot at dawn.

San Jacinto Monument, Deer Park,Texas, near Houston. Shot at dawn.

PaulWolf/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hikers can enjoy the view from the San Jacinto Monument (a gargantuan tower commemorating the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution) and the Fred Hartman Bridge. In addition to guided hikes and a plethora of youth programming, once a month there is a free 90-minute Full Moon Hike that welcomes nature lovers over age 13 to experience the wonders of the habitats of nocturnal animals like raccoons, owls, coyotes, opossums and more. 

Find it: 6213 Bayway Drive, Baytown, TX 77520; 281-424-9198

White Oak Bayou Trail

There are more than 17 miles of hike-and-bike trails and public green space in White Oak Bayou, encompassing several parks—all within the Houston city limits. It includes Watonga Parkway Park (home to one of Houston’s largest bat roosts), T.C. Jester Park, Stude Park, Hogg Park and White Oak Park, and is one of several local bayou greenways projects.

At the confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayou, a hike-and-bike trail was completed in 2018 connecting Houston residents to downtown neighborhoods, transit centers and parks. There’s also a 223-foot-long mural by artist Jane Kim that shows the year-long transformation of the area’s migratory birds, whose plumage changes seasonally to attract mates.

Cyclists ride along White Oak Bayou Trail on August 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. 

Cyclists ride along White Oak Bayou Trail on August 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. 

Loren Elliott/Getty Images

The White Oak Bayou Greenway intersects with the Houston Heights hike-and-bike trail, meandering through the historic neighborhoods of the Heights and Woodland Heights. 

View the Bayou Greenways map here.

Lake Houston Wilderness Park

Would you believe that just 30 minutes north of the sprawl of Houston, there’s an almost 5,000-acre wilderness area that’s full of hiking trails? At the Lake Houston Wilderness Park, you’ll find more than 20 miles of gravel trails including the Ameri-Trail Forest Loop, a dog-friendly trail that makes a 9.6-mile loop past a lake and through some forested areas.

A man walks his dog on a Texas trail.

A man walks his dog on a Texas trail.

EyeWolf/Getty Images

It’s the only Houston park that permits camping or overnight stays in one of its cabins. The park has ample wildlife and wilderness, and opportunities for trail running, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, birding, fishing and horseback riding, though it is a BYOG (bring your own gear) setup.

Find it: 25840 FM 1485, New Caney, TX 77357; 832-395-7690

Lone Star Hiking Trail

Anyone who doesn’t think Houston has serious hikes hasn’t encountered the Lone Star Hiking Trail, which, at 129 miles long, is the longest trail in the great state of Texas. Despite being in a typically flat region, on this trail you'll actually gain more than 3,500 feet of elevation. The trail criss-crosses through private and public property, so good trail etiquette is encouraged.

Houston, Texas, United States, North America

Houston, Texas, United States, North America

Holger Leue/Getty Images

Enter the trail at Huntsville State Park and head to the Big Creek Scenic Area through the Sam Houston National Forest. It’s dotted with Texas wildflowers, endless forests and bubbling creeks. If you’re looking for walking partners, the Lone Star Hiking Trail Club meets twice monthly to hike the trails together.

Find it: Huntsville State Park (entry point), 565 Park Road, 40 West, Huntsville, TX 77340; 936-344-6205

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