When the weather is nice, an excellent way to experience the city is to explore one of the numerous bike trails the Houston area has to offer. There are plenty of resources to get you biking for exercise, off-roading and even in groups, but what about those leisurely bike rides you want to take where your 4 year old and 6 year old are on their bikes? While the metropolitan area boasts many mountain biking trails for the more experienced rider, there are also plenty of family-friendly options to check out as well. Since it can sometimes be hard to get a dose of nature in this bustling metroplex, we’ve put together a list of family-friendly bike trails that will help get you and your family outdoors, and for good measure, we have even thrown in some safety tips too!
Family Bike Ride Safety Tips
Do you remember when we all used to bike without helmets? Not anymore. With the amount of cars on the road, you have to be safe and your kids have those soft little heads that need to be protected, not to mention your heads as well, so the first rule of safety is please make sure everyone has on their safety gear and that it fits correctly. A safety helmet fits correctly if it is snug on the head and sits as low as possible. When your child shakes their head, the helmet should not move up or down or sideways, but stay firmly in place. The strap should fit snugly under the chin, so when the mouth is opened wide, the helmet is pulled down just a bit. It might not feel comfortable at first to your child, but the safety factor will be well worth it and they will get used to it.
Before you go on your ride, make sure you bring a water bottle for the kids filled with some water, and remember, they can’t go as far or as fast as you can, so don’t expect a long ride until they are older. When you are riding with them, it is safer to ride behind them and a bit to the outside of them, rather than in front of them. This way, you can keep an eye on them and know where they are and also protect them from oncoming traffic if you are on a street.
Teach them to stay to the right when they are on a bike path. It’s common courtesy, just like in driving and it’s a lesson that they will take with them always. Make sure your kids bikes have well inflated tires and the brakes are in good working order. This might seem obvious, but nothing is worse than starting out on a ride and realizing tires are low on air.
Remember that patience is a virtue and that this is a fun family outing and one that you and your family can enjoy for many years to come, so deep breaths if you start to feel frustrated and if you really get frustrated, take a break and check out the scenery, throw some rocks, take a sip of water, pick some leaves off the ground and then continue once everyone (mainly you) has calmed down some.
Family-Friendly Bike Trails in Houston
Located near the junction of 290 and 610, this section of the White Oak Bayou Greenway Trail is quite extensive. However, the portion contained in T.C. Jester Park is only about 3.5 miles, making it easy to choose the option that works best for your family. The park also has a playground and a public pool, which is an excellent way to cool off after a day in the Texas heat.
The Halls Bayou Hike and Bike Trail is a 2.5-mile paved trail that shadows Halls Bayou from Jensen Drive up to Keith-Weiss Park. The path also passes through Mary Withers Park and Bretshire Park along the way. The picnic pavilion located in Bretshire Park provides a perfect spot for taking a snack break or for cooling off at the end of your family-friendly bike ride.
This north Houston spot can be explored in conjunction with the Halls Bayou Trail or be its own adventure. Keith-Weiss Park features 2.5 miles of paved trails and several miles of easy off-road trails that will make riding with your family fun and easy. The park also contains several ponds and dense forestry, making the area an excellent home for many different types of birds and fish. One of the ponds even has an observation deck, and another has a boardwalk, making it easy to spy the fish below.
Sugarland Memorial Park offers several miles of gravel-packed trails along the Brazos River. The main trails Lake Loop and South Meadow Loop provide for a smooth and tranquil ride for a family-friendly bike ride. For more of a challenge, you can try the Justin P. Brindley Trail, which follows along the river. While this route is relatively flat, there are more trees along this path which can mean the occasional root on the trail. The park also offers plenty of parking, a playground, and numerous picnic areas with grills – perfect for a full day of family fun.
Located in southeast Houston, the 3.75 mile Southbelt Hike and Bike Trail can either be ridden in its entirety or broken down into smaller segments. The eight-foot wide paved trail runs parallel to Blackhawk Boulevard and passes through Bishop Park and Clear Brook City Park, which provide good resting spots along the way. For a bonus, take the Dixie Farm Road Park trail off of the reservoir loop for a more scenic route.
The trails in Herman Brown Park off Crosby Freeway offer several miles of biking depending on which routes you decide to take. This park is also home to the Hunting Bayou Hike and Bike Trail, ponds, a playground, and picnic areas. The wide variety of trees found in the park also makes it a favorite stop for migratory birds passing through.
Have a favorite trail that we missed? Let us know in the comments what it is you love about it.