HIKE THIS RAVINE

Inner Loop gem unveils new hiking trail for Houstonians to explore

Hike this new ravine in the Houston Arboretum. Photo by Christina Spade.

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Houstonians who're fed up of outsiders (Austinites, especially) deriding our fair city for its lack of elevation and beauty have a new comeback. A hidden, Inner Loop gem has revealed a new trail and ravine and — gasp! — elevation that's completely explorable.

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, tucked away near Memorial Park on 4501 Woodway Dr., has unveiled a newly designed ravine trail as part of the nonprofit's Master Plan. The public can traverse this new trail, which boasts a "true riparian ecosystem" with elevation changes not typically seen in the Houston area, according to the center.

Hikers and visitors can expect two new bridges spanning the ravine to allow the flow of flood waters; a winding switchback concrete trail even provides ADA accessibility to the north bridge and expansive views across the ravine.Seemingly perfect for a spring stroll, the updated area also has a boardwalk system that brings visitors into the heart of the ravine and native plantings that increase bio-diversity and prevent erosion of the ravine slopes.

Due to flooding, erosion, washout, and other disturbances, access to the ravine and its trail system were closed for three years, while the Arboretum and several partners developed resilient solutions. The ravine is located in the northwest corner of the site.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the Arboretum working with Design Workshop, Inc.

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and blogger. Check out her new blog, HTown Run Tourist. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @HTownRunTourist. Facebook @jovanabernathy. Join her facebook group: H-Town Run Tourist

Six years ago, I got this great idea to become a tourist of Houston on foot. I had no idea what I was doing or where it was going. All I knew was to put on my running shoes, walk out the door, and just go. Go learn, go talk, go ask without judgements. What I found is that Houston was full of diversity. We all knew that. However, let yourself be immersed in it. Look and listen to the sounds of different languages being spoken around you. Smell the scents of the different cuisines. You would think you were in a foreign country. This made me more curious.

As I explored the emotion of curiosity, it led me to change my behavior. Where I might have rushed to this place and to the next, I took it slower. Where, usually, I would have just assumed that I already knew, I found myself asking more questions. When I asked more questions, I had to acknowledge that I did not already know, so I practiced listening. As I listened more, I felt compelled to show more appreciation to the person who interrupted their busy day to educate me. This made me feel grateful.

I took that gratitude and wanted to share with others. It blew my mind when people would say that they hated Houston. It was boring. The people are mean and it was ugly. And even more shocking was Houston is not walkable. Instead of getting offended, I decided to do my part in brightening up the day of the Houstonians who were stuck in a rut. Who saw and did the same things day after day. I didn't judge because I knew they could get out of that rut by simply deciding that today they do something different. I braced myself for rejection, but put myself out there to share the wonderful things that I had learned about Houston. Given the chance, the vast majority, was ready to learn a different way. This made me proud.

It is true that 2020 has been full of disasters. These are opportunities if we choose to see them that way. If anything that COVID-19 taught me the answer was not MORE, but it is LESS. We have the tendency to take on too much, we had the unique opportunity to take on less. Thus, instead of going to exhaustion, we had the opportunity to rest.

Then, the tragedy of the death of Houston's own George Floyd happened. It could not have happened at a worse time. My heart goes out to his family. Some might use it as an opportunity to work out their own frustrations by causing more problems with violence and looting. My hope is that whatever happens will be an expression of appropriate sadness, but with Houston's best attributes; curiosity, gratitude, and pride. Instead of LESS it is time for MORE. MORE curiosity. To see if Houston's law enforcement cares about the well-being of Houston's black community and make changes in protocols. MORE gratitude. For the opportunity to express the frustration in a peaceful way. MORE pride. To not destroy this city and give it over to violence possibly doing more damage to the economics of business owners. We can see this as the opportunity to take time to heal.

Houston has changed. As I restart my exploration, I'm not looking for LESS. I'm looking for MORE this time. I'm looking with MORE curiosity. Because I know that we have even MORE to show each other. I'm looking with MORE gratitude because we have endured so much already and there are better times ahead. And, I'm looking with MORE pride because just as we did it before, we still have it in us to do it again. I have one request: if you see me in the streets, promise me that you will say hello.

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