Cycling around town

Houston's top 5 biking trails: Memorial, White Oak among the best

Memorial Park is one of the better biking areas in the city of Houston. Houston.CultureMap.Com

Houston offers an array of biking trails — more than 128 miles of trails that loop through parks and along beautiful bayous. When it comes down to figuring out which trail is the best for you, this list of the top five trails can help. Each trail is constructed of either asphalt, concrete, granite, or a mixture of these. Choose your ride below and enjoy.

5. Brays Bayou Greenway Trail (33.8 miles)

9601 Braes Bayou Dr.

If you are looking for a good long ride, Brays Bayou Greenway is the way to go. There are different sections along this ride. Precinct one is 8.4 miles; from the north to the south bank segments, it is 17.9 miles; and in total it is 33.8 miles across the entire trail. The trail end points are along Hockley and Medina Streets and on the opposite end is Braeburn Glen Boulevard (Braeburn Park). The trail is a mix of asphalt and concrete.

The concrete path (by the area of Hermann Park) is great for roller blading. Once you get near the Medical District, there is some construction, so you need to be careful. Some parts of the path are unfinished in this area, but there have been a lot of recent improvements.

Other than the construction, it is a very nice path where you will see bluebonnets, flowers, plants, and wildlife along the eastern part of the trail from Mason Park to UH. The smell of honeysuckle actually fills the air as you pass by. Pay attention to your surroundings, because this area doesn't feel extremely safe if you are by yourself.

Parking can be found in the parks along the trail's route, from east to west: Mason Park (541 75th St.), MacGregor Park (5225 Calhoun Rd.), Hermann Park (6001 Fannin St.), and Braeburn Glen Park (9510 Gessner Rd.).

4. White Oak Bayou Greenway - Heights Trail (15 miles)

West 11th Street and Antoine Drive

If you’re looking for a solid path not intersected by many streets, White Oak Bayou is your trail. There aren’t many bike paths that have long uninterrupted stretches  other than Terry Hershey and this one. It is a 15-mile unique path with interesting wildlife along the way. This trail will run across a few parks: Watonga Parkway Park, T.C. Jester Park, Stude Park, White Oak Park, and Hogg Park.

This trail is not only a great bike trail, but it is also great for roller blading, with some parts of the path being concrete and other parts asphalt. If you stop to take in the scenery, you may see turtles, toads, blue herons, catfish, and bats along the Bayou. In the evening, there aren’t lights for long sections of the path, so having lights on your bike is helpful as it gets dark. 

The website includes an interactive map. This path begins northwest of FM 1960, parallel to Highway 290 toward downtown, joining Buffalo Bayou.

3. Memorial Park Hike and Bike Trails  

6501 Memorial Dr. and 4501 Woodway Dr. 

Memorial Park is one of the largest urban parks in Texas. This park has a variety of trails, making up more than 30 miles. One lap around the main loop is three miles. If bikers would like to extend their ride after Memorial, they can always head east on Memorial Drive towards Allen Parkway/Buffalo Bayou Park. There are plenty of other trails you can find for getting that extra mileage. A road bike is fine for some, but a mountain bike is preferred for others. 

The green trail, for hiking and biking, is the longest single track trail at Memorial Park. The purple trail is a dirt path that forms a loop for 2.1 miles throughout the mountain bike trail area. This trail is mostly flat, except for near Buffalo Bayou, where there is a crossing of a drainage. If you are looking for a more casual ride for all skill levels, the red trail is a good one, stretching 1.2 miles. There’s not much elevation change to it, but the fast, flowy turns make up for it.

For fun and fast turns with a flowy trail, try the yellow and orange trails. If you are planning to take the blue trail, be careful with the exposed roots on the route; these could create dips in your pathway. The triangle brown trail is often missed, but an adventurous ride. It also typically has less traffic than the others on the west side of the park. The triangle is an intermediate ride with all of the rolling terrain and fast turns. 

On the weekends, most of these trails get pretty busy, so ride as early as possible. As it starts to get dark, there is some lighting along the main part of the trail, along with some security for your safety.

2. Heights Hike and Bike Trail (5.5 miles)

2799 Moy St.

Heights Hike and Bike Trail was rated Houston’s best bike trail by the Houston Press in 2016. The Hike and Bike trail starts at the end of Moy Street at White Oak Bayou. This trail has a great view of the downtown skyline as it rides you through the historic Heights neighborhood and into downtown. It is always clean and well maintained.

The trail also passes through a number of parks, one being Donavon Park, which has the safest on-street bike lanes in Houston. Fun fact about this trail: It actually used to be a railroad track. This trail also runs into White Oak Greenway Trail, at the beginning off Moy St.

1. Terry Hershey Park and Bike Trail (11.6 miles)

TX-8 Beltway

Terry Hershey is a great trail stretching 11.6 miles and is fit for a casual cyclist. For riders with road bikes, be careful with some of the asphalt paved paths that are uplifted or cracked due to the rain. Even though Terry Hershey isn’t a super challenging trail, it is unique with its alternate pathways under road bridges and small creek bridges. Terry Hershey is one of the few parks to have long mileage coverage that is not intersected by streets and lights.

The trail has some signage/maps, but this could be improved, especially on the west end, where Terry Hershey connects to the George Bush Trail. If you do happen to jump on the George Bush Trail, you can extend your ride by 11 miles. However, when I came across this trail, it was flooded. If you are planning to ride this trail, make sure it has not rained recently. Since Terry Hershey Park Trail is an enormous park, here are some helpful locations for parking:

  • Highway 6 (west end of the trail)
  • Beltway 8 (east end of the trail; access off southbound tollway service road)
  • Dairy Ashford Road (mid-trail on the south side of the bayou)

Honorable mention

Here are two trails for leisurely fun rides or if biking with children.

Buffalo Bayou Park (Allen Parkway) (5-mile Loop)

1800 Allen Pkwy. and Memorial Drive

Buffalo Bayou Trail has one of the best scenic views among all the trails. This trail, also known as Allen Parkway trail, is a windy, 124-acre green space with a killer view of the Houston skyline. Bikers can enjoy the scenery of the art, bats, Eleanor Tinsley Park, and more. There are also quite a few sets of stairs for any bikers that would like to do some cardio on the during or after their ride.

This trail is neat and adventurous for a casual day. It is very well kept, and security bikes through occasionally. There is not much shade on the ride, so wear some sunscreen and a hat.

Hermann Park (1.2 miles)

6001 Fannin St.

The trail around Hermann Park Conservatory is only 1.2 miles long, but it also connects to the golf course, which has a pathway around it as well. Hermann Park has a number of interesting features, including a Japanese garden, a natural science museum, and a kiddie train. It also backs up to the Houston Zoo. Located nearby is a Houston BCycle stop, perfect if you're at the park and would like to go for a quick ride. 

Eastern Glades Phase I has been completed. Phase II (pictured) is slated for completion by summer 2020. Courtesy photo

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

It’s been a banner year for Memorial Park, with news in the spring of a blockbuster, $70 million grant from the Kinder Foundation. Now, locals can rejoice in more good news: the completion of a crucial phase in the park’s redevelopment.

As part of the Memorial Park Master Plan, the Eastern Glades Phase I project has been completed. For park users, that means East Memorial Loop Drive has been realigned, extending the Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail to a full three miles.

Additionally, park visitors can now enjoy 150 new parking spots (huge news for anyone who regularly jogs, walks, or bikes there), a new restroom station with water fountain, and new plantings and lighting, which will create a healthier ecology on the 100-acre site that is Eastern Glades, according to a release.

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