OUTDOORS ON THE COAST

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.

A CAUTIONARY TAIL, PART 2

Readers respond to Ken Hoffman's dog park debacle

Photo by Jacob Power

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about my dog Sally being attacked by three dogs (one owner) at Officer Lucy Dog Park in Bellaire. Admittedly, I was furious when I wrote the column. I am still furious. Despite a big sign with a long list of safety rules, this one person was allowed to bring his three big, violent dogs into that dog park. I managed to get my dog (and me) out of the park safely.

During our ensuing shouting, the owner of the other dogs told me, "I was here first" and "If you don't like it, don't bring your dog in here." The owner was right about one thing. I didn't like it, and I won't bring my dog there.

In fact, I won't bring my dog to any public dog park where there is no supervision, no assurance that vicious and sick dogs aren't present. It's just not worth the risk.

Dog park danger

It turns out, I did the smart thing. I did not confront the other dog owner. I called the Bellaire cops. Three officers, plus the city's animal control officer, arrived within 10 minutes. They talked to the owner of the vicious dogs, and he left. The police now have a report with information about this person and his dogs.

In Texas, if a dog harms another dog, the owner could be responsible for the vet bills resulting from his dog attacking another dog. If the owner's dog kills another dog, the owner could be responsible for replacing the dead dog. Yeah, that would make everything okay. Your dog killed my dog, my best friend, the dog I loved like there's no tomorrow … but you're going to give me $50 to get another one?

If that owner's dogs had killed Sally that day, I would have spent that night in jail.

Readers respond

Reader reaction to my column surprised me. I understand that people are passionate about their dogs (nobody more than me) and dog parks are popular. I expected to hear strong defenses of dog parks. That was not the case. Here are some of the responses I received.

  • "My dog also got attacked at the gate of Officer Lucy Dog Park; a pit bull grabbed him by the throat, tearing the skin and requiring stitches."
  • "At the very least, they'll get loaded with fleas."
  • "My dog was attacked twice at a dog park. I was frightened my dog would get killed. No more."
  • "Dog parks harbor disease, excrement, vicious dogs, and a-hole owners. We would never take our sweet girl to one."
  • "I think they are great. I wish people would bring their dogs there and not to restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and other places that are intended for humans."
  • "We used to go to dog parks all the time, but then our dog was attacked. I overheard the owner say after we pulled his dog off mine, 'He always does this.' My dog ended up with a $800 medical bill."
  • "Do not confront the bad dog owner — you and your dog could wind up sharing a hospital room."
  • "Come to Eadog Park. We are all a family and are familiar with everyone's dog. If anyone's dog acts up, we ask them to kindly leave. We don't tolerate that behavior."

Continue on CultureMap to read about the aftermath.


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