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.

And now, Houston's best 5K and 10K races.

Houston's best bucket list races within 30 miles

Photo via: Pixabay.com

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

I published my list of world's best bucket list races. Last week, I wrote about the best races in the US. There is one last list to complete this series: The best races in Houston. They are not only easier because they are local, but they are 5K and 10K races. These races are great starter races. They are also the best because they have great giveaways. So get your pens out and started planning your races.

Hot Undies Run

June 22, 2019

Our awesome party-loving friends at FFP (Fun, Fitness, and Philanthropy) have built this event up to what it is today. A lot of beer-loving, underwear clad Houstonians running for a cause. The Hot Undies Run is a 2 mile pub crawl that takes place every year in Rice Village.

The cause, this year, is for Girls on the Run, a non-profit that empowers young girls through the sport of running. This run has raised $80,000 in donations to date. Community partners Buffalo Bayou Brewing keep this party going with their local brew. Just to let you know how live this party gets. You can hear tales of runners chugging beer from one participant's prosthetic limb.

9/11 Heroes Run

September 7, 2019

The 9/11 Heroes Run is for runners, walkers, and ruckers who want to show appreciation and support for the fallen soldiers and first responders of September 11. This event takes place at City Hall. It is put on by the Travis Manion Foundation. This race is held all over the world and proceeds go to help veterans and their families thrive.

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what a rucker is. It is a participant who dresses up in full soldier and fireman gear to complete the race.

Photo via: Pixabay.com

Run Houston! Clear Lake

September 22, 2019

So, I'm going to be honest. Run Houston! Race Series was not really an original choice for me. Fred gave me this idea. If you remember, he wrote an article last year on his virtual race in San Fransisco. I got to see his medal and it was a beaut. Coming up on September, 22, you can run a 5K or 10K race on the University of Houston Campus. This is Race #4 in the 5 Race Series. Other locations include Sugarland, Sam Houston Park, Minute Maid Park, and Clear Lake. Don't let Fred be the only one to collect all 5!

Hot Chocolate Run

February 1, 2020

This race starts from Hermann Square and is for the biggest chocolate aficionados. Hot Chocolate Run is a 5K or 10K race. You get exercise and at the end each runner gets an awesome medal decorated like chocolate as well as a fondue tray with a banana, rice crispy treats and other dippables. That sounds all cool, but I think the best thing is instead of a t-shirt, you get this awesome hoodie! I'm running it for the hoodie.

Bayou City Classic

March 14, 2020

This is my favorite 5k and 10K race. It takes place at City Hall every St. Patty's Day Weekend. This is the oldest 10K race in Houston and benefits Houston Parks Department. Things that you can expect to see are music at every corner. Bagpipes. The Blues Brothers, and Gypsy Dancers.

The costumes. Oh the costumes. One year, there was a centipede dressed as a St. Arnold's Beer six pack. There were 2 girls dressed as the 80's. And the cutest kids ever. I can't go on enough about this race. The last thing, you get the most giveaways at the Bayou City Classic. Usually, there are a couple protein bars, but when you leave, you bag is filled to the brim with goodies. All this makes the Bayou City Classic my pick for first time 5K's.

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