Everyone could use a little more nature in their lives. Living in a large city like Houston makes nature seem worlds away, but there are several great places to experience the natural world without travelling far from home. Tucked away in Houston are several parks and nature centers, many of which offer a taste of nature and can be easily accessed on foot. Here are five scenic walking trails in the greater Houston area:
Houston Arboretum And Nature Center
4501 Woodway Drive
Houston, TX 77024
(713) 681-8433
www.houstonarboretum.org

Located close to the Galleria, Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is a great place to take the family for a nature walk and educational outing. The nature center has fun activities for the kids and the center features several different trails of varying length. Walk past swampy areas and watch as frogs and turtles enjoy the natural habitat, or just walk along the pathway and enjoy the surrounding greenery. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is within a short drive of most of the Houston area population and visitors are often surprised that such a nice little slice of nature exists so close to home.

Brazos Bend State Park
21901 FM Road 762
Needville, TX 77461
(979) 553-5102
www.tpwd.texas.gov

If you don’t mind a short drive south of the city, a good place to visit for nature encounters is Brazos Bend State Park. Visitors will find multiple nature trails in this park including some that remain within wooded areas and others that take you to the banks of small lakes. Brazos Bend State Park is great for those who like a more adventurous nature trail, for it is common to encounter snakes and even alligators if you hike close to the water. It’s a great place to enjoy the trees, the native plants and the diverse wildlife that call South Texas home.

Armand Bayou Nature Center
8500 Bay Area Blvd.
Pasadena, TX 77507
(281) 474-2551
www.anbc.org

Drive east of downtown for a short distance and you will arrive at Armand Bayou Nature Center. Many people visit here for the pontoon boats and canoe trips, but Armand Bayou is also known for its walking trails. In all, there are more than five miles of walking trails, and they take visitors through wooded areas, swamps and prairies. It’s common to encounter reptiles, amphibians and even deer as you walk along the trails and breathe in the fresh air. Armand Bayou Nature Center offers guided tours, but guests are free to walk on their own and discover the natural beauty at their own pace.

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George Bush Park
16756 Westheimer Parkway
Houston, TX 77082
(281) 496-2177
www.harriscountytx.gov

If a paved walkway is more your style, then consider a visit to George Bush Park. Located west of downtown, George Bush Park is a large nature preserve, covering more than 7,800 acres and loaded with picnic areas, ballparks and loads of wildlife. The walking trails at George Bush Park are paved and are shared with bicyclists, but it shouldn’t interfere with the natural aspects of the park which are visible to all. At nearly 22 miles in length, the trails at George Bush Park are among the longest in the area, making them perfect for those who want to get in touch with nature and meet their exercise goals.

Buffalo Bayou Park
3600 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77019
(832) 395-7000
www.buffalobayou.org

One of Houston’s more famous urban parks, Buffalo Bayou Park is located close to downtown. The bayou is lengthy, and walking paths exist throughout most of the water’s journey, following the water’s edge. Buffalo Bayou Park visitors can walk along the banks of the bayou, soak up nature and also encounter such interesting attractions as the Waugh Bridge bat colony and man-made, commemorative sculptures. Buffalo Bayou Park and its trail system are very close to the heart of the city, and it makes a great place to enjoy some sights and sounds of nature without venturing far from the home.

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Bryan Carey is a Houston, Texas resident with an avid interest in restaurants, dining, breweries, wineries, festivals, cultural events, museums, theatre, concerts, and other forms of entertainment. He has been writing about entertainment, travel, and related topics for more than fifteen years and has thousands of articles to his credit. His work can be found at Examiner.com.