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You might not think of Houston as a hot spot for outdoor adventures, but if you look hard enough, you can find plenty of them in and around the city. Whether you’re into running or biking, kayaking or climbing, there are tons of Houston outdoor activities that are perfect for you, no matter your skill level.

While we could come up with 100 ways to spend a day outdoors in Space City, we’ve created this list of 12 incredible outdoor adventures in Houston as a starting point for you to plan your own epic outdoor excursion!

Best Houston Outdoor Activities

Photo Credit: Patrick Feller (Flickr CC)

1. Kayak through Buffalo Bayou

The most stunning views of the Houston skyline can be found along the waters of Buffalo Bayou. While you can see the skyline along the bayou’s pathways, one of the coolest Houston outdoor activities is renting a kayak and paddling through Buffalo Bayou. Extending a whole 53 miles through Houston, there’s plenty of space in the bayou to go kayaking for just an hour or an entire day!

To rent a kayak and go paddling on your own, head to Lost Lake Visitor Center and visit the kiosk at Bayou City Adventures. There, you can get a kayak starting at $30 per hour, and if you rent before 3 pm, you can get an extra hour for free! If you’d prefer a guided kayaking excursion, Bayou City Adventures also offers lessons and tours, perfect for those just starting out or wanting an expert guide to lead the way.

Read More: 10 Incredible Places to Go Kayaking in Houston

2. Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding at 288 Lake

If you’re looking for another paddling alternative to kayaking, stand up paddle boarding is a fantastic outdoor activity in Houston. Perfect for sunny, warm days, there are tons of places to go stand up paddle boarding in Houston and the surrounding areas.

Our favorite spot for stand up paddle boarding in all of Houston is at 288 Lake. Situated south of downtown, it’s easy to get to and manageable for all levels of paddlers – even complete beginners! 288 Lake has its own paddle board rental service, and you can rent by the hour. While paddling there, you’ll find cool water clean enough for swimming, a spacious area to paddle around, and fellow triathlon trainers swimming alongside you.

Aside from 288 Lake, here are a few of our favorite Houston paddle boarding spots:

  • Lake Conroe
  • Clear Lake/Kemah
  • Buffalo Bayou

Read More: 8 Peaceful Places to Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Houston

3. Go surfing at Surfside Beach

We bet you didn’t think surfing was an activity you could do in Houston! However, it’s possible to hit the waves just an hour outside of the city at Surfside Beach. If you already know how to surf, it’s as easy as grabbing a board and hitting the waves!

There are a handful of surfboard rental spots in Surfside Beach, including Explore More, which rents surfboards, SUPs, and kayaks. Additionally, if you don’t know how to surf and want to learn, you can book a surfing lesson with Bayou City Adventures, which runs tours and lessons to Surfside Beach from Houston regularly.

Photo Credit: faungg’s photos

4. Run the Outer Loop at Rice University

One of the most beloved running trails in all of Houston is Rice University’s outer loop, which is a beautiful, oak-lined gravel path that spans approximately 2.7 miles in length. On a run around and into the campus, you can see iconic university sights like the Sallyport, Brochstein Pavilion, and its beautiful quad. Consistently rated as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, taking a morning run through here is one of the best Houston outdoor activities.

While you can see other runners on the trail virtually any time of day, the best time to run at Rice is in the early morning, before the Houston sun gets too hot and muggy. The shade of the oak trees provides a nice, cool spot for a run well into the morning.

If you’d like to extend your run, head into the campus to see the sights, or onward across the street into Hermann Park. During a run in Hermann Park, you can see the Japanese Garden, the Houston Zoo, and the park’s expansive golf course. For the runners out there, Rice and the surrounding areas are arguably the best spots in the entire city to get some miles under your belt.

Read More: 15 Awesome Trails for Running in Houston

5. Climb at the largest bouldering gym in the country

One of the most interesting additions to Houston’s climbing scene is Momentum Indoor Climbing. They’ve got two locations in the Houston area, in the Heights and in Katy.

While the Katy location has both top rope/lead climbing and bouldering, the Silver Street location is unique because it’s a bouldering-only gym, and they claim that it’s the largest in the country! Yep, that means no harnesses are necessary there – just shoes, chalk, and a sense of grit.

With over five enormous walls and climb-over boulders in the gym, you are sure to never get bored in this gym. One part of the gym gets new routes every week, with the whole gym getting a turnover every month or two. Additionally, Momentum has excellent training facilities for cross-training, including a weight room and yoga. The gym also offer a moon board, hang bars, and pegs to improve your climbing skills.

If bouldering scares you, don’t worry – the Silver Street location has thick pads under all climbing areas to cushion your fall. Monthly memberships are available for locals who want to come regularly and improve their climbing skills.

Read More: 7 Epic Places to Go Rock Climbing in Houston

6. Take a Houston city walking tour

If you’re hoping to learn more about the city and its history, a walking tour is an excellent option for outdoor activities in Houston. While it does get pretty hot in the city, a walking tour is best done during the fall, winter, and spring (as in, during the milder times of year!).

Luckily, there are tons of Houston walking tour options that can keep you occupied no matter what you’re interested in. Houston has some fascinating historic sites, as well as some of the best and most underrated food options in the United States – all which you can experience on a city walking tour. Here are a couple of the most interesting Houston walking tours we’ve got on our radar:

Book Now: Houston City Walking Tours

Photo Credit: faungg’s photos (Flickr CC)

7. Hike in a Different Biosphere

While you might see Houston as a giant, daunting concrete sprawl, there are actually several great nature areas to explore nearby if you look for them. From alligator conservation areas to coastal nesting grounds, you can find a ton of plant and wildlife diversity in the Houston area. Hiking is a great way to get out of the city and immerse yourself in some of these underrated spots. In fact, it’s one of our absolute favorite Houston outdoor activities!

There are several places to go hiking that have different terrain than the swampy, dusty grounds of Houston. Here are a few options for hiking trails not far from downtown Houston:

  • Big Thicket Park – Tropical forests and plant life meets Houston swamps at Big Thicket, a large park and nature conservancy located near the Louisiana border. Here, you can see a variety of reptiles like alligators and turtles, as well as tropical carnivorous plants and mosses.
  • Galveston Island State Park – For coastal marshes and the opportunity to see various bird species, head to Galveston Island State Park. Here, you can enjoy birds like herons along the seaside, crossing through wooden bridges and along sandy shores.
  • Natural Bridge Caverns – For an incredible and unique subterranean experience, head to Natural Bridge Caverns, where you can admire giant stalagmites and stalactites from a well-lit, paved pathway.

Read More: 15 Stunning Places to Go Hiking in Houston

Photo Credit: Mike Lapidakis (Flickr CC)

8. Join a bike ride with Critical Mass

Houston is a fantastic city for cyclists and people who enjoy biking. Not only are there tons of miles of open roads, but there are also several bike-friendly trails to enjoy and explore around the city.

For bikers of any experience level, Critical Mass is a local social biking organization aimed at promoting biking throughout the city of Houston. They organize monthly free night-time rides starting in downtown, as well as other biking-related social events all over the Houston area. People usually deck out their bikes in lights and reflective material, and there are typically dozens of bikers that travel in the Critical Mass pack. The monthly Critical Mass rides range from 18-25 miles in length and are typically taken at a leisurely (read: not very fast) pace.

Read More: 14 Paved and Gravel Trails for Biking in Houston

9. Watch the bats fly at Waugh Bridge

For nature enthusiasts, there’s an incredible phenomenon that happens most summer nights around sunset at Waugh Bridge: the bat colony comes out to play. What this means is that typically, hundreds of bats will fly out from their home under the bridge simultaneously, flapping into the pink and orange sky in hordes to catch their night-time meals.

Watching the Waugh Drive Bat Colony is one of the most unique outdoor activities in Houston, as there are few urban environments that give rise to such a spectacle. Some say that the Waugh Bridge colony is the largest of Mexican free-tailed bats in Texas as a whole, and lives in Houston year-round. For more tips on viewing these Houston bats, head to this guide.

Photo Credit: Shiva Shenoy (Flickr CC)

10. Explore the Houston bay area by water or land

Kemah is on the far eastern side of Houston, and is most famous for its buzzing boardwalk that has tons of rides, shops, and restaurants. Located on the bay, it’s a waterfront entertainment zone that’s great for a day trip or a weekend getaway (without actually leaving the city!).

One thing that locals don’t know is that Kemah is also a fabulous place to go kayaking in Houston. With several bay areas to explore, it’s a paddler’s paradise, and there’s enough to see and do there to fill an entire day. You can pair your day at Kemah with a fun kayaking excursion or tour in Clear Lake.

In the Kemah area, you can rent a kayak or stand up paddle board from nearby Kayak Shack, which offers rentals starting at $25 an hour. They also offer guided tours of the various landmarks in the area – two of the most fun ones are their Friday night fireworks tour and their sunset tour (both available for booking on their website).

Photo Credit: Trey Perry (Flickr CC)

11. Enjoy a boat ride at Lake Conroe

Lake Conroe is Houston’s most popular lakeside getaway, and it’s a perfect short trip to go boating for a few hours. We’ll admit it – Lake Conroe isn’t quite within Houston city limits, but it’s a very easy day trip that’s popular among Houston locals!

The lake is 21,000 acres, and is full of people in pontoon boats, jet skis, paddle boards, and more. Boasting plenty of docks and green spaces along its shores, Lake Conroe a lovely place to escape the downtown area, go kayaking or boating, and soak up the summer sun.

In the Lake Conroe area, there are a few places to rent a boat if you don’t have your own. Boat rentals at 1097 Watersports start at $22 per hour, and they have both non-motorized and motorized boats. 

Don’t forget your sunscreen and hat (two of the most important kayaking gear essentials), since there isn’t much shade in the area. Additionally, be careful on especially crowded days, as there are often lots of people all over Lake Conroe speeding around on motor boats and jetskis.

Photo Credit: itsdorian (Flickr CC)

12. Explore Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park is one of Houston’s most iconic parks, and is located just outside of downtown. The park boasts fabulous skyline views of the city, and is the perfect place for an outdoor adventure in Houston.

Underneath the park, visit a unique underground cistern you can visit that has many years of history. The park offers daily tours of the cistern that you can book in advance. Frequently, there are unique art installations in the cistern, such as a light show that uses the pillars and walls to create a mesmerizing and hypnotic effect.

There’s a 4.8-mile loop in the park that’s popular with runners, bikers, and hikers, that offers up beautiful skyline views and lots of greenery. Additionally, the Buffalo Bayou Trail extends through the park for 15 miles, and is a popular spot for hikers, bikers, and runners. Filled with industrial bridges, tons of trees and plants, and the flowing Buffalo Bayou, it’s a perfect spot for urban hiking in Houston.

Outdoor Activities in Houston: Additional Resources


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ABCD

Houston is a city known for many things – space, bayous, and energy being three of them – but it’s not often seen as an outdoor city. However, if you look closely enough, you can find some seriously awesome outdoor activities in Houston. One of the most beloved adventure sports that you can do in the area is biking – there are tons of Houston bike trails to cycle through and explore!

Whether you’re training for the MS-150 or are just hoping to get out and enjoy fresh air, biking in Houston is a fun way to see the city and get some exercise. Here are some of the local favorite bike trails in Houston that you can explore on two wheels!

Best Bike Trails in Houston

Photo Credit: itsdorian (Flickr CC)

1. Buffalo Bayou Hike and Bike Trail

Buffalo Bayou Park is located just outside of downtown and boasts some of the most epic views of the city of Houston. Filled with industrial bridges, tons of trees and plants, and the flowing Buffalo Bayou, the park is one of the most ideal Houston bike trails for an urban immersion experience.

For a shorter ride, there’s a 4.8-mile loop in the park that’s popular with runners and bikers, as it’s a perfect training ground for those who live near downtown. Additionally, the Buffalo Bayou Trail extends through the park and across city for 15 miles, perfect for a longer ride.

2. White Oak Bayou Trail

As one of the longest continuous trails in Houston, the White Oak Bayou Trail extends nearly 17 miles through some of the green areas of Houston. Situated between Rice Military and The Heights, it’s perfectly located in a stretch of parks alongside the quiet White Oak Bayou. Of course, there are also several overpasses to remind you you’re still in the fourth largest city in the United States, but otherwise, it’s a quiet and peaceful spot for biking in Houston.

At White Oak Bayou, you’ll find paved trails perfect for road bikes, and you’ll typically find other bikers on the paths alongside you. Bring lots of water if you’re heading out for a longer ride, as there aren’t many water fountains along the way.

3. Brays Bayou Greenway Trail

If you prefer a trail with fewer fellow runners, Brays Bayou’s Greenway Trail is a quieter sibling to White Oak and Buffalo Bayous. Extending 14 miles through Houston’s central and southern areas, the bayou has paved sidewalks and underpasses perfect for a short or long bike ride through the Medical Center and other parts of the city.

While there isn’t too much shade on this route, the city is constantly improving the trails to make them more clean and accessible for recreation. The Brays Bayou Greenway is a popular trail with local bikers, who you’ll see cycling the trails early in the morning through after sunset.

Photo Credit: faungg’s photos

4. Rice University & Hermann Park

The trails surrounding Rice University is a local favorite running spot, but the area is also great for bikers. Consistently voted as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States, it’s a very beautiful, picturesque place to go for an early morning ride before the students head to class.

With lots of paved and gravel paths, water fountains, and tons of shade from the iconic oak trees, you can extend your ride here as long as you’d like.

You can pair a ride through Rice with a detour in nearby Hermann Park. Aside from being an easily accessible and beautifully-landscaped park, this is one of our favorite bike trails in Houston because there’s so much variety throughout the park. You’ll pass by a beautiful reflection pool, the Japanese garden, a sweeping golf course, the Houston zoo, and more on a bike ride through Hermann Park’s gravel trails.

Photo Credit: Matthew Rutledge (Flickr CC)

5. Heights Hike & Bike Trail

The Heights Trail extends through one of Houston’s most eclectic neighborhoods, and is one of the best Houston bike trails to get a skyline view of the city. Extending just under 5 miles, the trail is a perfect spot for a short bike ride with a variety of beautiful views.

Along the way, you’ll catch stunning views of the Houston skyline amidst lots of beautiful greenery. Don’t miss some of the colorful, historic homes in the Heights area, which was once known to be the “artistic” neighborhood of the city.

6. George Bush Park

George Bush Park is a giant, sweeping park located in the far west side of Houston, near the Energy Corridor. There are thousands of acres of park here, which includes an 11-mile trail perfect for biking in Houston.

Whether you live or work in the Energy Corridor area or simply find yourself out in that direction, George Bush Park is one of the most underrated Houston bike trails. Here, you’ll find yourself passing by forested areas, recreational fields and picnic areas, as well as lakes and bridges, a great variety that will surprise you around every turn.

Photo Credit: Danielle Bourgeois (Flickr CC)

7. Memorial Park

To the west of downtown Houston lies the quiet, family-friendly neighborhood of Memorial. Filled with elegant homes and large corporate complexes, Memorial is a popular place to live and work in Houston. Situated in the middle of the area is Memorial Park, one of the most popular parks in Houston for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. One of the signature draws of Memorial Park is its trail that’s popular with West Houston inhabitants for running, walking, and biking.

Gravel paths and wooded areas characterize the park’s trails. There are also several paved areas for bikers to ride through as well. In the evenings and weekends, you’ll find that there are several other friendly neighbors out in the park running, biking, or playing a variety of sports in the nearby fields.

8. Zube Park

Located 40 miles northwest of downtown, Zube Park is a popular suburban park with 225 acres of recreation areas, including picnic tables, a water park, and playgrounds. However, it’s also a Houston cycling hub, as many local cycling clubs frequently take off from this park.

While the park itself doesn’t have too many bike-specific trails, it is a popular starting point for biking in Houston, including rides along the freeway service roads and other parts of the city.

Photo Credit: JR_Paris (Flickr CC)

9. Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail

Situated in the green, wooded neighborhood of Memorial, the Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail is a local favorite. With over 10 miles of trails, this running path is perfect for those wanting to get out of the downtown areas without going too far. A mixture of gravel and paved paths will greet you, and the tree cover provides shade from the hot Houston sun.

10. Jack Brooks Park Trail

At just 36 miles from downtown Houston, Jack Brooks Park a great destination for biking in Houston for the day, or as a detour on the way to Galveston. Because it’s not too far from the city, many people come here to enjoy a biking experience more immersed in nature than some of the other more urban parks on our list.

While there are fewer trails in Jack Brooks Park, they are perfect, dirt paths for mountain biking, as there are tons of dips, ascents, and other fun challenges. The park has a total of 5.6 miles of Houston bike trails that you can explore, most of which are wooded and very shady.

Photo Credit: Patrick Feller (Flickr CC)

11. Spring Creek Greenway Trail

As one of the most popular Houston bike trails, the Spring Creek Greenway Trail in Humble has over 13 miles of paved trails, perfect for a nice, long bike ride through mostly forested areas. You likely won’t be alone on the trail, as it’s a hotspot for local cylists to get some miles under their belt.

Because of the paved paths, it’s a great spot to take your road bike out for a spin (and less exciting for mountain bikers looking for varied terrain). Along the trail, it’s common to see local wildlife like deer and birds, as well as local tree species like magnolias, birches, and black willows.

12. Huntsville State Park

Just past the far northern stretches of the greater Houston area lies Huntsville State Park, which is part of Sam Houston National Forest. Filled with tall pine trees, it’s a quiet, beautiful nature area that’s perfect for a Houston day hike or bike ride. Many of the biking trails will take you around the scenic Lake Raven.

With 21 miles of sandy dirt trails, one of the most popular of the Houston bike trails in Huntsville is an 8.5 miles loop trail around the park called the Triple C, which has lots of variety in terrain for avid mountain bikers. Another popular trail for bikers is the Chinquapin Trail, which is a 6.2 mile loop.

Photo Credit: evan00024 (Flickr CC)

13. The Woodlands

For a suburban, tree-lined neighborhood feel, biking in The Woodlands is a scenic way to get some miles under your belt. While it’s not a park, The Woodlands area boasts 160 miles of trails linking all of the surrounding neighborhoods and communities.

The Woodlands is a suburb about an hour north of Houston, which has a large lake system, a high-end shopping area, and many residential communities, perfect for a quiet day of cycling. For extra fun, you can pair your bike ride with an afternoon of kayaking in the lake. You can view a map of cycling trails in the Woodlands here.

14. Galveston Island

While Galveston may seem an unlikely spot for cyclists, it’s actually got a handful of wonderful Houston bike trails to explore. With a historic downtown area, an expansive coastline, and a state park, there’s a ton of variety for cyclists in Galveston, making it an ideal spot to go biking in Houston.

The city of Galveston recently implemented multiple biking lanes on its major streets, and you can also cycle along the seawall for miles of coastal scenery. Generally, the biking areas consists of flat, paved roads with room for bikers on the shoulder and sidewalks. You can see a map of the various Galveston bike trails here.

Biking in Houston: Additional Resources


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Many people might think of Houston as a huge, industrial sprawl in a flat, swampy area of Texas. While that stereotype is somewhat true, there are tons of lesser-known and hidden spots to find nature in and around the city. For locals and visitors alike, there are several places to go hiking in Houston and the surrounding areas if you look hard enough.

To help you start your search, we compiled a list of the best Houston hiking trails that will speak to your soul if you love hiking as much as we do!

Places to Go Hiking in Houston

Photo Credit: itsdorian (Flickr CC)

1. Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park is one of Houston’s most iconic parks, and is located just outside of downtown. The park boasts fabulous skyline views of the city, a unique underground cistern you can visit, and several trails that wind around the park. Filled with industrial bridges, tons of trees and plants, and the flowing Buffalo Bayou, it’s a perfect spot for urban hiking in Houston.

There’s a 4.8-mile loop in the park that’s popular with runners, bikers, and hikers, that offers up beautiful skyline views and lots of greenery. Additionally, the Buffalo Bayou Trail extends through the park for 15 miles, and is a popular spot for hikers, bikers, and runners. From end to end, this paved trail also passes through a handful of other parks, forested areas, and waterways, so if you’re up for a longer hike, you won’t be bored.

2. Memorial Park

To the west of downtown Houston lies the quiet, family-friendly neighborhood of Memorial. Filled with giant, grandiose homes and large corporate complexes, Memorial is a popular place to live and work. Its namesake park, Memorial Park, is filled with gravel pathways that’s a popular hiking trail with Houston inhabitants.

Gravel paths and wooded areas characterize the park’s 2.88 mile loop trail. In the evenings and weekends, you’ll find that there are several other friendly neighbors out in the park hiking, biking, or playing games in the nearby fields.

3. Houston Arboretum

Located in the Memorial Park area as well, the Houston Arboretum is one of the most underrated and beautiful spots for hiking in Houston. There’s a 5-mile network of trails that connect the park, with the longest being a 1.76-mile loop around the entire park. Here, you can find several local plant species and birds in a very serene conservation area.

Head to the Houston Arboretum for the day and while away the hours hiking through the many different trails in the area, including a birding trail, a wildflower trail, and many more forested, shady paths.

Photo Credit: Mike Lapidakis (Flickr CC)

4. White Oak Bayou Trail

As one of the longest continuous trails in Houston, the White Oak Bayou Trail extends nearly 17 miles through some of the most beautiful areas of Houston. Situated between Rice Military and The Heights, it’s perfectly located in a stretch of greenery alongside the quiet White Oak Bayou. Of course, there are also several overpasses to remind you you’re still in the fourth largest city in the United States, but otherwise, it’s a quiet and peaceful spot to go long-distance running in Houston.

The trails on White Oak Bayou are paved, and you’ll often see walkers and bikers on the trails alongside you. Bring lots of water if you’re heading out for a longer run, as there aren’t many water fountains along the way.

Photo Credit: JR_Paris (Flickr CC)

5. Terry Hershey Hiking Trail

Situated in the green, wooded neighborhood of Memorial, the Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail is a local favorite. With over 10 miles of trails, this hiking and running path is perfect for those wanting to get out of the downtown areas without going too far outside of the city.

At Terry Hershey Park, a mixture of gravel and paved paths will greet you, and the tree cover provides shade from the hot Houston sun.

6. Lake Houston Wilderness Park

For a simple and picturesque getaway from Houston, head north about 30 minutes to Lake Houston Wilderness Park, a 4,000+ acre wilderness area with lots of trails and activities to try. There’s wildlife, kayaking, and camping available here, as well as several miles of gravel trails to explore, perfect for a weekend of hiking in Houston.

The most popular and scenic trail in Lake Houston Wilderness Park is the Ameri-Trail Forest Loop, a 9.6-mile loop that passes by a lake and some quiet forest areas. It’s dog-friendly and close to campsites in the area in case you’d like to extend your stay.

Photo Credit: Adam Baker (Flickr CC)

7. Armand Bayou Nature Center

For a fun, immersive experience in nature, Houston’s Armand Bayou Nature Center is a wonderful spot for hiking, wildlife watching, and more. The center is home to over 370 species of local wildlife, which you can see from one of its 5 miles of trails and hiking areas. While it’s meant to be a family-friendly learning center and urban wilderness conserve, it’s great for avid hikers who enjoy wildlife and bird spotting.

The center offers guided hikes and tours of its grounds, including a bat hike to see local bat species flying through the sky. Note that admission is $6 per adult, with discounts for kids and seniors.

8. Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend is one of the coolest and most beautiful state parks in the Houston area, located just 45 minutes from downtown. With its wide variety of wildlife, including various species of birds, mammals, and reptiles, you can find some of the best hikes in Houston here.

There are 37 miles of trails in Brazos Bend State Park, with several designated hikes around the premises, including Elm Lake Loop Trail, and the 40 Acre Lake Trail.

Places to Go Hiking Near Houston

Photo Credit: Shiva Shenoy (Flickr CC)

9. Galveston Island State Park

While most people don’t think of hiking and state parks during a trip to Galveston, it’s actually a fantastic place for coastal hikes in Houston. With 15 miles of trails, it’s great for viewing wildlife, especially coastal birds like herons and pelicans. Because it’s only 10 miles away from the city of Galveston, it’s fairly easy to access by car.

Hike one of the many trails, that take you to wetlands and other coastal ecosystems. Alternatively, you can hike some of the trails that lead up to paddling sites where you can take off on a canoe, kayak, or paddle board.

10. Martin Dies Jr. State Park

Located near the border of Louisiana, Martin Dies Jr. State Park consists primarily of piney woods. It’s 60 miles north of the city of Beaumont, and is a lovely place for a hiking getaway near Houston. With its prime location at the convergence of the Neches and Angelina Rivers, there are 6 hiking trails in the park ranging from 0.29 to 2.24 miles in length.

Martin Dies Jr. State Park is great for learning about the different trees native to this region of Texas, including beech, pine, cypress trees and magnolias. Take a hike to see several areas of the rivers and forests, or extend your weekend into a full camping and hiking expedition.

Photo Credit: Bobby Ketchum (Flickr CC)

11. Sam Houston National Forest

As one of the four national forests in the state, Sam Houston National Forest lies 50 miles north of Houston. The forest connects the towns of Huntsvile, Cleveland, and Richards, and is full of wooded hiking trails you can explore. Because it’s so close to the city, Sam Houston National Forest is a perfect spot to go hiking near Houston if you’re looking for shady, mossy forests and quiet tranquility.

One long hiking trail, the Lone Star Hiking Trail, passes through the entire forest for a whopping 128 miles. On a trip to the forest, you can enjoy piney woods, or pair your trip with a jaunt to Lake Conroe for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, or other water sports.

12. Lake Livingston State Park

Lake Livingston State Park is a large park surrounding a peaceful, forested lake. Just one hour north of Houston, it’s a great way to escape the city for a day trip or a weekend hiking getaway. Each of the hiking trails range from 0.3 to 2 miles, with nearly 6 miles of total trails.

Here, you’ll find quiet forest paths, and if you look or listen closely, you can pinpoint plenty of woodpeckers who call the area home. Enjoy the beautiful Lake Livingston shoreline on your hikes while enjoying the beautiful nature of the park.

Photo Credit: faungg’s photos (Flickr CC)

13. Big Thicket

Not far from Martin Dies Jr. State Park lies Big Thicket Park, a large, forested sanctuary that is home to lots of local wildlife and unique plant life. In the park, you can see carnivorous marsh plants, turtles, and alligators, as much of the park is comprised of a marshy, tropical terrain. There are over 84,000 acres in the park, making it one of the most massive expanses on our list.

Within the 40 miles of trails ranging from 0.3 to 18 miles, you can come hiking here whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker. As one of the most biodiverse areas in the world outside of the tropics, you won’t have a shortage of things to see and do in Big Thicket!

14. Stephen F. Austin Park

Located on the banks of the Brazos River, Stephen F. Austin Park is a beloved recreation area located just 50 miles west of Houston. For history buffs, Stephen F. Austin Park is also the site of the original Anglo-American colony in Texas. Because the park has 5 miles of short and easy trails, it’s great for families with kids or those who want a short, leisurely hike through the forest and riverside.

Photo Credit: Trek Texas (Flickr CC)

15. Bastrop State Park

Located in the Lost Pines area, Bastrop State Park is an area that has frequently been ravaged by forest fires and floods. As a result, the terrain and scenery here consists of tree stalks dotted with tropical ferns and other unique plant species.

Within the park, you’ll find short trails, with two longer, historic cart paths that span 5 miles. For more experienced hikers, we’d recommend the more challenging Lost Pines loop trail, a 5 mile trail that winds through the hilly and rocky surroundings. Additionally, there are several historic old cabins on site, where you can stay overnight to extend your trip.

Additional Resources


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It might seem daunting to try and find a good place for a morning run in Houston – after all, it’s a city that’s often portrayed by ten-lane highways and miles of buildings and subdivisions. However, running in Houston is increasingly becoming a popular activity with locals, and there are no shortage of beautiful trails in the city.

All sweltering heat and humidity aside, running in Houston can be an amazing experience because of the variety of trails within its giant sprawl. To give you some inspiration, we’ve compiled this list of the best places to go running in Houston.

Best Routes for Running in Houston, Texas

Photo Credit: itsdorian (Flickr CC)

1. Buffalo Bayou Park

  • Location: Downtown Houston
  • Trail Length: 15+ miles

As Houston’s most famous and photogenic green space, Buffalo Bayou Park is located just outside of downtown and boasts fabulous skyline views of the city. Filled with industrial bridges, tons of trees and plants, and the flowing Buffalo Bayou, the park is easy on the eyes for runners and picnickers alike.

There’s a 4.8-mile loop in the park that’s popular with runners, as it’s a perfect training ground for those who live near downtown. Additionally, the Buffalo Bayou Trail extends through the park for 15 miles, and is a popular spot for hikers, bikers, and runners. From end to end, this paved trail also passes through a handful of other parks, forested areas, and waterways.

Photo Credit: faungg’s photos (Flickr CC)

2. Rice University

  • Location: Rice University
  • Trail Length: 2.7 mile loop

The trail surrounding Rice University is a local favorite running spot, and is also one of the iconic landmarks where the Houston Marathon splits from the Half Marathon route. Consistently voted as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States, the outer loop running trail is a picturesque spot to go running in Houston.

With gravel paths, water fountains, and lots of shade, this loop trail is just under 3 miles, and is the perfect place to go for a run, even in the heat of the summer. Practically any time of day, you can find college students and fellow Houstonians running on Rice’s outer loop trail.

Pro tip: Pair it with a run in nearby Hermann Park (below) for a longer,~4.5 mile route. Or, alternatively, you can lengthen your run by entering Rice’s iconic main entrance and taking a jog through the campus itself.

Photo Credit: I am R. (Flickr CC)

3. Hermann Park

  • Location: Museum District
  • Trail Length: 1.5 miles

While the loop trail here is one of the shorter ones on our list, don’t rule out Hermann Park from your list of Houston running trails. Aside from being an easily accessible and beautifully-landscaped park, this is one of our favorite running spots in Houston because there’s so much variety throughout the park.

Bordering the Museum District and the Houston Zoo, the park does tend to get crowded during mid-day, but in the mornings it’s the perfect spot for a run. You’ll pass by a beautiful reflection pool, the Japanese garden, a sweeping golf course, and more on a loop through Hermann Park’s gravel trails. You can lengthen your run by heading to Rice University next, or by taking a detour through the many nearby museums.

Photo Credit: Joe Diaz (Flickr CC)

4. Boulevard Oaks/West University

  • Location: West University
  • Trail Length: Varies

Running through one of Houston’s most picturesque neighborhoods and iconic Oak canopies is a true treat for the senses, and Boulevard Oaks is the perfect place to get a taste for the lifestyle of Houston’s elite.

Filled with large, beautiful homes, paved sidewalks, and beautiful greenery, this is a side of Houston that’s rarely shown in the media. These neighborhoods surround Rice University, making this area a great detour/addition to a run at the university. Afterward, you can stop for a smoothie at the nearby college town, Rice Village.

5. Brays Bayou

  • Location: Rice University/Medical Center
  • Trail Length: 14 miles

If you prefer a waterside trail with fewer fellow runners, Brays Bayou has a lovely running route through its Greenway Trail. Extending 14 miles through Houston’s central and southern areas, the bayou has paved sidewalks and underpasses perfect for a short or long run. While there isn’t too much shade on this route, the city is constantly improving the trails to make them more clean and accessible for recreation.

Photo Credit: Mike Lapidakis (Flickr CC)

6. White Oak Bayou Trail

  • Location: The Heights/Rice Military
  • Trail Length: Up to 17 miles

As one of the longest continuous trails in Houston, the White Oak Bayou Trail extends nearly 17 miles through some of the most beautiful areas of Houston. Situated between Rice Military and The Heights, it’s perfectly located in a stretch of greenery alongside the quiet White Oak Bayou. Of course, there are also several overpasses to remind you you’re still in the fourth largest city in the United States, but otherwise, it’s a quiet and peaceful spot to go long-distance running in Houston.

The trails on White Oak Bayou are paved, and you’ll often see walkers and bikers on the trails alongside you. Bring lots of water if you’re heading out for a longer run, as there aren’t many water fountains along the way.

Photo Credit: Matthew Rutledge (Flickr CC)

7. Heights Trail

  • Location: The Heights
  • Trail Length: ~5 miles

The Heights Trail extends through one of Houston’s most vibrant and artistic neighborhoods, and is a perfect paved trail for running in Houston. Extending just under 5 miles, the trail is a lovely place for an early morning jog or an evening run. Along the way, you’ll catch stunning views of the Houston skyline.

Pro tip: There isn’t shade in many parts of the trail, so come prepared with sunscreen and/or a hat during mid-day workout sessions.

8. Memorial Park

  • Location: Memorial
  • Trail Length: 2.88-mile loop

To the west of downtown Houston lies the quiet, family-friendly neighborhood of Memorial. Filled with giant, grandiose homes and large corporate complexes, Memorial is a popular place to live and work. Its namesake park, Memorial Park, has a lovely running trail that’s popular with West Houston inhabitants. In the past, it was a favorite running spot of the late president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara as well.

Gravel paths and wooded areas characterize the park’s 2.88 mile loop trail. In the evenings and weekends, you’ll find that there are several other friendly neighbors out in the park running, biking, or playing a variety of sports in the nearby fields.

9. George Bush Park

  • Location: Energy Corridor
  • Trail Length: Up to 11 miles

George Bush Park is a giant, sweeping park located in the far west side of Houston, near the Energy Corridor. There are thousands of acres of park here, which includes an 11-mile trail perfect for running in Houston. Whether you live or work in the Energy Corridor area or simply find yourself out in that direction, George Bush Park is a fantastic place to go for a jog. Here, you’ll find yourself by recreational fields and picnic areas, as well as lakes and bridges.

Photo Credit: JR_Paris (Flickr CC)

10. Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail

  • Location: Memorial
  • Trail Length: 10.7 miles

Situated in the green, wooded neighborhood of Memorial, the Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail is a local favorite. With over 10 miles of trails, this running path is perfect for those wanting to get out of the downtown areas without going too far. A mixture of gravel and paved paths will greet you, and the tree cover provides shade from the hot Houston sun.

11. Mason Park

  • Location: Greater East End
  • Trail Length: 1.4+ miles

A beloved recreational facility and park in eastern Houston, Mason Park is a small but wonderful place for a short run. It’s situated along the banks of Brays Bayou, meaning that the Brays Bayou trail meets up with the park’s trails for an option to extend your run. Alternatively, you can enjoy your jog through fields, bayou banks, and more as you admire the wooded areas and wildflowers nearby.

Photo Credit: Francisco Anzola (Flickr CC)

12. Montrose

  • Location: Montrose/Museum District
  • Trail Length: Varies

Ah, yes. The neighborhood of Montrose had to end up in our list because it truly is one of Houston’s most interesting, colorful, and downright fascinating neighborhoods to explore on foot.

Because it’s largely residential, there are sidewalks everywhere, making Montrose an ideal neighborhood for running in Houston. As you run, you can admire the various street art around the neighborhood, take a detour through the Museum District, stop by the Menil Collection, and enjoy the colorful, quirky homes and boutiques that dot the area.


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Contrary to popular belief, Houston, Texas is a fantastic city for runners! If you're looking for a good Houston running trail, you've come to the right place. We created this complete guide to the best places for running in Houston, including top Houston running trails, Houston parks, paved hike and bike trails, and workout spots! #Running #Fitness #Houston #Texas

Whether you’re a climber who is a Houston local or are visiting for a short time, you might be itching to work on your rock climbing skills. While the flat, swampy landscape of Houston doesn’t really lend itself to great outdoor rock climbing spots, there are tons of indoor climbing gyms in Houston to choose from.

On the plus side, rock climbing in Houston is a growing trend that’s affordable and accessible to climbers of all levels. We’ve created this list of the best Houston rock climbing spots; whether you’re into bouldering, top rope, or lead climbing, you’ll be sure to find a place that you love.

Rock Climbing Gyms in Houston

Like we mentioned before, within Houston’s city limits, indoor climbing is really your only option. Luckily, there are some fantastic Houston rock climbing gyms that you can choose from. These 6 gyms are some of the best places to go rock climbing in Houston, offering challenging courses complete with air conditioning and shade from the summer sun.

1. Texas Rock Gym

  • Address: 1526 Campbell Rd, Houston, TX 77055
  • Cost: $20 for a day pass only, $40 for day pass plus full gear rental (harness, shoes, and chalk)

Of all of the places to go climbing in Houston, Texas Rock Gym has it all. It’s close to I-10 in West Houston, meaning it’s pretty easy to access from anywhere in the city. As the first and original rock climbing gym in Houston, Texas Rock Gym has top rope trails, lead climbing, bouldering courses, and strength areas to satisfy any workout need you may have.

You can rent all of the necessary gear you’ll need for climbing at Texas Rock Gym, or use your own. Additionally, they offer classes for beginner to advanced climbers on a variety of different skills and topics.

For Houston locals, Texas Rock Gym offers monthly memberships starting at $60 per month.

2. Stone Moves

  • Address: 6970 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX 77069
  • Cost: $14 for a day pass, plus $7 for shoe, harness, and chalk rental

For rock climbing in the northwest side of the city, Stone Moves is a favorite Houston rock climbing gym. With colorful, mural-filled rock walls ranging from beginner-level to advanced, there are tons of opportunities here for all levels of climbers here. Stone Moves has been open since 2004 and is a Houston local business.

Stone Moves offers gear rentals, day passes, and monthly memberships for locals. It also offers lessons for beginner to advanced climbers, as well as kids.

3. InSPIRE Rock

  • Spring Address: 403 E Louetta Rd, Spring, TX 77373
  • Cypress Address: 16730 House & Hahl Rd, Cypress, TX 77433
  • Cost: $16.95 for a day pass, plus $10 for shoes, harness, and chalk

As one of the largest rock climbing gyms in Houston, InSPIRE Rock has tens of thousands of square feet of top rope, lead climbing, and bouldering wall space. The walls range from 32 to 43 feet in height, and are suitable for climbers of all levels. There’s also a training room, classes, and a yoga studio for a well-rounded fitness experience.

InSPIRE Rock has two locations in northern Houston: one in Spring and one in Cypress. Both locations offer day passes, full gear rentals, classes, and monthly memberships for adults and kids.

4. Space City Rock Climbing

  • Address: 201 Hobbs Rd, League City, TX 77573
  • Cost: $10-15 for a day pass, plus $12 for shoes, harness, and chalk

We’ve pretty much covered the areas of Houston…except for the eastern side. Luckily, Space City Rock Climbing is the largest rock gym in Houston’s bay area, and it’s a fantastic place to climb if you’re in the eastern part of the city. They’ve got 5,000 square feet of climbing space that includes top rope, bouldering, and lead climbing.

If you’re only there to boulder, you can get a day pass for just $10. $15 gets you access to the entire facility, and they’ve got gear rentals available for $8 as well if needed. There aren’t any classes available here, but with its affordable rates and monthly memberships, you can practice rock climbing to your heart’s content.

5. Sports59

  • Address: 7115 Clarewood Dr, Houston, TX 77036
  • Cost: $18 for a day pass, plus $10 for gear rental (harness, shoes, and chalk)

Sports59 isn’t just a rock climbing gym – it’s a full-on sports complex complete with an indoor soccer field, yoga studio, and climbing walls. While the facilities here are a bit smaller than the rest, it’s got 3,500 square feet of climbing wall space, and they’ve got routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.12 (beginner-friendly to advanced).

If you’re interested in taking your climbing further, they’ve got monthly memberships, group classes, and gear rentals available.

6. University of Houston Climbing Wall

  • Address: 4500 University Dr, Houston, TX 77204
  • Cost: Free for members and guests of the University of Houston gym

Located in the University of Houston Wellness and Recreation Center, this climbing wall is only available to students and recreation center members. However, if you’re a student or are lucky enough to know one, you can try out this 53-foot climbing wall on the university’s campus. The 6,100+ square foot wall area, built by Nicros, is a world-renowned architectural marvel, as it’s incorporated into the rest of the gym building.

Best Places for Bouldering in Houston

7. Momentum Indoor Climbing

  • Silver Street Address: 1401 Silver St, Houston, TX 77007
  • Katy Address: 25410 Katy Mills Pkwy, Katy, TX 77494
  • Cost: $20 for a day pass, plus $10 for shoe rental

One of the newest additions to Houston’s climbing scene is Momentum Indoor Climbing. They’ve got two locations in the Houston area, in the Heights and in Katy.

While the Katy location has both top rope/lead climbing and bouldering, the Silver Street location is unique because it’s a bouldering-only gym. Yep, that means no harnesses are necessary there – just shoes, chalk, and a sense of grit! If bouldering scares you, don’t worry – the Silver Street location has thick pads under all climbing areas to cushion your fall. The gym also offers classes and training areas to improve your strength.

Both Momentum Indoor Climbing Gyms offer rentals, fitness areas, pro shops, and monthly memberships.

Additional Resources


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Houston is a great place for indoor rock climbing! We compiled this complete list of the best places to go bouldering and rock climbing in Houston for a perfect, fun workout! #Houston #Texas #RockClimbing