Planning to hike Houston? There are endless choices, from pleasant short hikes close to the city to the 129 mile Lone Star Trail through the Sam Houston National Forest. However, if you’re planning to hike Houston with the kids, and camp along the way, start with something gentle. That way, they’ll be fans for life.
Best Places to Hike Houston With Kids
Stephen F. Austin State Park
A 30-minute drive from the outskirts of Houston, Stephen F. Austin State Park is a great place to hike Houston with the kids. This 473-acre park to the southwest offers six miles of gentle hiking trails close to the Brazos River and the historic site of Texas’s first colony. Plenty of campsites offer a wide variety of facilities. While this park is ideal for birders, kids will love the easily-seen animals like white-tailed deer, opossums, squirrels, raccoons, and armadillos. In May and June, if conditions are favorable, fireflies provide an impressive display.
Village Creek State Park
Ninety miles east of Houston lies Village Creek, one of the rare free-flowing creeks in Texas. This 1090 acre park, with good camping sites, provides a rich diversity of wildlife and vegetation thanks to its location and high rainfall levels. There are eight miles of trails including a Lil’ Paws trail for young hikers and nature enthusiasts. Again, kids will be able to see birds, deer, and opossums in the woodland areas and might be lucky enough to see roadrunners and six-lined race runners in the more arid, sandy areas of the park.
Galveston Island State Park
This Gulf Coast barrier island, a modern day paradise, is some sixty miles south of Houston. Campsites are well serviced, and there are four miles of hiking trails across 2000 acres of beach, wetland, and coastal prairie habitats. If your kids are old enough, you could combine hiking with one of the paddling trails in the calm, protected water, varying in length from 2.6 to 4.8 miles. History resonates on this ancient island, once peopled by nomadic tribes, but unlike some of the more adventurous hiking trails in Texas, there will be nothing but the hoot of the barn owl to keep the kids awake at night.
Always remember to check news, information and weather conditions in the area before you set out to hike Houston with the kids. Make sure you have the correct clothing and equipment. Take extra care near water and be particularly vigilant where alligators are concerned. Hike safe, especially with kids, and be sure to leave nothing but footprints behind.
Jennifer Holt is a freelance writer and loves nothing more than to explore the Lone Star State one hike at a time.