Summertime in the Bayou City: Unless you go walking at night or in the wee hours of the morning, you’re going to need the protection of a thick canopy of trees. Under the leafy oaks and tall pines of our three favorite walking paths, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell you’re in the city at all.
Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary
440 Wilchester Blvd., 713-932-1639
A little over 17 acres along Rummel Creek is what remains of Edith Moore’s original 180-acre homestead in west Houston, along with a restored log cabin built in 1932 from the native loblolly pines that still shade its meandering paths. Quaint wooden bridges over vine-shrouded bayous lend a fairytale feel to the landscape.
Look for: Carolina chickadees, downy woodpeckers, green herons and more; this is prime bird-watch- ing territory.
Look out for: Truncated hours; the sanctuary gates are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (9 p.m. during the summer).
Terry Hershey Park
15200 Memorial Dr., 281-496-2177
Bordering both sides of Buffalo Bayou from Beltway 8 all the way to Highway 6, this massive park sprawls across 500 verdant acres. Paved asphalt paths that follow the tree lines are popular with both joggers and bikers, while walkers and hikers favor the dirt paths tucked along the bayou’s scenic, shady banks.
Look for: Rabbits, armadillos, turtles, owls, raccoons and other wildlife that still occupy the park’s pristine, six-mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou, which has remained largely unchanged for decades.
Look out for: Muddy, washed-out hiking paths and bike trails after rains
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
4501 Woodway Dr., 713-681-8433
While solitary strolls are encouraged in this Memorial Park preserve, guided tours and other learning ex- periences are what sets this Houston treasure apart. Summer programs keep the kids busy by day, while the popular Arboretum by Night walks offer ice cream and Saint Arnold beer for the adults—along with the occasional firefly.
Look for: The R.A. Vines trail, which mimics East Texas wetlands and traverses some terrain with actual elevation—hills, here, in Houston!
Look out for: Crowded trails close to the entrance; those in search of a quieter walk should head for the Outer Loop trail, where jogging is prohibited.