6 best spots to hike, bike, or paddle in Houston and Galveston

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Partnership

This article originally appeared on CultureMap and was written by Melissa Gaskill.

The Texas coastal plain surrounding Houston and Galveston contains a surprising variety of natural landscapes — along with a number of parks, preserves, and other opportunities to enjoy said landscapes. Late spring is a good time for getting out into nature, before temperatures start to melt pavement in the parking lots.

At places with visitor centers, take the time to stop in for maps, trail guides, and general advice from the staff. And be sure to check the weather forecast.

Armand Bayou Nature Center

One of the largest urban wilderness preserves in the U.S., this 2,500-acre property in Pasadena has more than 5 miles of hiking trails, including three through forested wetlands to the bayou: the 1.32 mile Martyn Trail, 1.4-mile Karankawa Trail, and 1.5-mile Lady Bird Trail. Guided hike offerings include night hikes, birding tours, and alligator viewing. The Center also has pontoon cruises, guided canoe tours and an 1800 style farm site.

Buffalo Bayou Paddling Trail

A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Paddling Trail, this route runs 26 miles from Highway 6 to Allen's Landing Park in downtown Houston. Ten access points allow for a variety of trip lengths. Despite flowing through an urban setting, Buffalo Bayou has surprisingly diverse flora and fauna. Paddlers may see turtles, rabbits, herons, egrets, hawks, fish, and even alligators, along with a variety of types of trees lining the banks.

East End Lagoon

A 685-acre nature park and preserve on the eastern tip of Galveston Island, East End contains wetlands, ponds, upland prairie, and beaches — a rare piece of natural Texas coast. A work in progress, the park currently has trails, viewing platforms, and launch areas for canoes and kayaks, with plans for a pavilion and other amenities down the road. Artist Boat offers regular kayak tours at East End Lagoon, from two-hour guided tours to three- and four-hour outings that include watercolor demonstrations and painting.

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island State Park represents the only undeveloped land on the island with beach-to-bay public access that takes in coastal prairie and wetlands. Explore with its four miles of trails, observation platforms, bird blinds, and paddling trails. Staff lead regular beach and bay explorations for those who want to learn more about the critters and landscape, and a nature center is open on weekends. Stay overnight in beach or bay campsites or one of the park's lodges.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the final 2 spots.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
The action starts Thursday night for the Coogs!Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images.

Houston has hosted more than its share of mega-monster sports moments and events – Super Bowls, World Series, Final Fours, college basketball’s “Game of the Century,” the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, Muhammad Ali title fights and more.

But if, and let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the University of Houston makes it to the Final Four held at NRG Stadium April 1-3, and, fingers crossed, wins the NCAA basketball championship …

That will be the cherry on top of the biggest, most exciting, happiest sports week in Houston history. This city will absolutely lose its flippin' mind. Yeah, that's how big the Final Four is.

Don’t forget, the week from March 30 to April 5 also has our World Series champion Astros opening their 2023 season with home series against the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers. Opening Night March 30 will feature the unveiling of the 2022 World Series banner, and the Astros will receive their championship rings the following night.

The Astros and Final Four will go head-to-head on Saturday, April 1 and Monday, April 3. The Astros will be giving away Jeremy Pena World Series MVP bobbleheads on April 1. The promotion for April 3 is a package deal - a ticket, soda, hot dog and popcorn for $22.

All this excitement, of course, has a price. For Astros Opening Night, the cheapest tickets on the secondary market run from $99 in the upper deck to more than a grand for field level.

That’s peanuts, with or without popcorn, compared to tickets for the NCAA championship game on April 3. Those are selling for $200 for seats in the heavens all the way to $7,000 for courtside tickets.

The March Madness Music Festival at Discovery Green will be held Friday, March 31 to Sunday, April 2 and will feature Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Nas X, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Maggie Rogers, Little Big Town and more. Tickets will be free, but you have to register to claim them at ncaa.com/marchmadness/musicfest.

If the University of Houston wins the title … look out below! There will be a parade downtown that will rival the celebration following our World Series triumph last year. Just call us “Championship City.”

UH coach Kelvin Sampson will own this town and cement his legacy as an all-time beloved coach and Houston icon. It will only add to the frenzy that this year marks the 40th anniversary of UH’s heartbreaking loss to NC State in the 1983 championship game. Revenge is a dish best served cold on a basketball court.

Jim Nantz, a UH grad, will be calling play-by-play for his 33rd and final Final Four on CBS in his adopted hometown of Houston. Talk about wrapping things up with a nice bow.

The Final Four is big stuff, one of the most-watched sports events in the U.S. Last year, with Kansas topping North Carolina, the championship game attracted 18.1 million viewers. That’s more than the NBA Finals (16.9 million), World Series (14.3 million), Masters golf tournament (13.6 million) and Wimbledon (7.5 million).

The 31-3 Cougars are currently the (+500) betting favorite to be crowned champions. That means if you bet $10 on UH you can win $50 – and possibly a free mattress from some local “furniture salesman.” (Just kidding, love ya Mack.)

The next favorite is Alabama at (+800) meaning if you bet $10 on the Crimson Tide you can win $80. Among the ultimate longshots is Northern Kentucky University, the Cougars’ first-round opponent. The Norse (odd nickname for a school in Kentucky) are listed at (+100,000), meaning if you bet $10 on them, and they win the whole shebang, you’ll be $10,000 to the good. But don’t bet on it.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome