Houston, TX 77007
Dubbed “the largest urban park in Texas,” Houston's Memorial Park, just inside Loop 610 at Woodway, includes Texas’ top-rated municipal 18-hole golf course, as well as facilities for tennis, softball, swimming, track, croquet, volleyball, in-line skating, cycling, and a popular three-mile running course. In addition to the many trails the park is host to several softball/baseball fields, as well as a soccer/football filed. The park is also host to Houston's annual Bayou City Art Festival.
Memorial Park is bordered to the north by the I-10 Interstate, to the west by the I-610 Loop, and to the south by Buffalo Bayou. All the wooded areas in Memorial Park are criss-crossed by trails. The section of trails located at the park's southern border along Buffalo Bayou - collectively known around Houston as the Ho Chi Minh Trail - is heavily traversed by mountain bikers, as well as runners and hikers. The woods and trails in the parks SW and NW quadrants are less biked.
All the trails vary in size from narrow footpaths to wide, unused fire roads and the terrain varies from extremely undulating (with "camel hump" sequences rising and falling sharply anywhere from 5 to 40 feet) to perfectly flat. Besides the Bayou itself, there are creeks, ponds, a few open fields, a railroad, and a couple of swamps to run through, beside, or around. The woods are dense, and populated particularly with tall pines.
The trails take you adjacent to an equestrian center, as well as the Houston Nature Center and Arboretum. There are also tunnels underneath the two major thoroughfares traversing the park (Memorial and Woodway). These tunnels connect the various trails and allow runners to avoid negotiating directly across traffic, which can be both thick and speedy at times.
Bikers have a great selection of riding at Memorial Park, from flat paved trails to more difficult, twisting mountain-bike runs. Trails are marked with a color code according to skill level, so riders can easily find the path that will suit them best. Hikers and runners are welcome to use the biker trails. There are nearly 6 miles of bike and running trails in the park as well, but it should be noted that there is heavy car traffic through the park.
The foliage is lush and plentiful, with some sections leading through densely vegetated areas offering many peaceful views. Memorial Park features mixed pine/oak woodlands, fenced in by urban sprawl from all directions, that still support a diverse population of eastern woodland birds. Pine, Swainson's, Kentucky, and Hooded warblers breed within this park. In late winter, American Woodcocks (a rare breeder on the upper coast) have displayed here. Watch for Mississippi Kites feeding on dragonflies as they skim the treetops along Buffalo Bayou in late August and early September.
Additional Memorial Park Contact Information:
Memorial Park Golf Course 713-862-4033
Memorial Park Tennis Center 713-867-0440
Memorial Park Swimming and Fitness Center 713-802-1662
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center 713-681-8433