Hiking Houston {My 5 Favorite Spots}

Tuesday evening, 6 pm :: I click the buckle of my carrier with the baby snug to my chest, grab tight to the handle of my double stroller containing a rowdy preschooler and toddler, and feel the crunch of earth beneath my feet. I breathe deeply for the first time since picking them up from day care. The world feels new on the trail. My wilting patience is blooming once again as I remind my 2-year-old to keep his hands to himself. I soak in a full mile at my own 30-year-old pace before letting the big boys out of the stroller to explore with me.

Hiking Houston {My 5 Favorite Spots} | Houston Moms Blog

The 5-7 pm witching hour that once plagued me has turned into our favorite time of day.

In my first 4 years of parenting, I struggled with the last few hours of the day. As a working mom, I have limited time with my children during the week. I always wanted to spend the 2 hours between day care pick-up and bed time enjoying our family to the fullest. Instead, I was dealing with tantrum after tantrum, counting down the minutes until bedtime. “It’s 5:47 pm! How do I possibly have a full hour left before bath time?!”

When my 3rd son was born in April 2015, I was at home with all 3 boys full time while on maternity leave. I couldn’t help but think, “All day? 7 days a week? I’ve been struggling with the evenings; what am I going to do all day by myself?” I coped by making a very Type-A daily schedule prior to my leave ::

  • 7 am Free Play
  • 8 am Breakfast
  • 8:30 am Circle Time 
  • 9 am Dinosaur Activity
  • 10 am Playground
  • 12 pm Lunch
  • 1 pm Nap
  • 3 pm Reading Time
  • 3:30 pm Free Play
  • 5 pm Wait eagerly for Daddy to come home to restore my sanity

Seriously. I copied that verbatim from my phone calendar.

The schedule helped give us the structure I was craving, but something was missing. I found myself yelling at the boys for the tiniest thing and feeling trapped inside all day. I loved spending more time with my boys, but I was tired, lonely, and uncomfortable in my postpartum body. Something had to change.

Then, a friend posted about a hiking challenge she was doing for the month of June. Hiking? In Houston? With kids?

Hiking Houston {My 5 Favorite Spots} | Houston Moms Blog

Desperate for a new adventure for the boys and time for me to get moving, we went to our first hike at Challenger Memorial Seven Park in Webster. I met up with a few other moms and their young children for a short one mile hike through woods I never knew existed, just miles from my house. My 2 and 4-year-olds took turns running down the path and riding in the stroller. They picked up a million sticks and rocks along the way, saw an egret for the first time, watched the turtles in the water, and were so tuckered out they fell asleep in the car on the ride home. In one morning, a whole new world opened up, and I was hooked.

I used to see parks as an open space with a playground where I could sit and watch my kids play {or you know, anxiously hover over them and pray they didn’t jump off the side while I was looking the other direction}. Don’t get me wrong; playgrounds are awesome, and we often incorporate them into our hiking time. But now I look for the little “Nature Trail” sign I overlooked time and time again.

There are miles of trails to be explored all over Houston, and we have only just begun. Are you looking for a way to spend the evening witching hours, get outside, and connect as a family? Get started on one of my top 5 favorite trails. Warning :: I may be a little {read – totally} biased to the south side of town. *wink*

Hiking Houston {My 5 Favorite Spots} | Houston Moms Blog

My 5 Favorite Spots for Hiking Houston with Kids

  • Challenger Seven Memorial Park :: Located about a half-mile from I-45 in Webster, this park was named after the seven astronauts who lost their lives in the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion in 1986. In addition to a monument for these heroes, the park also has four covered playgrounds, plenty of open space, and a trail system. You can look through the trees to check out the beautiful boardwalk featuring lookouts over Clear Creek, or take the path less traveled through the more rugged dirt trail through the woods. Bring a jogging stroller or a baby carrier if you plan to explore the unpaved path!
  • Robinson Park :: The Seabrook Trail system is a little under 6 miles round trip and features several pocket parks along the way. My favorite section of this trail runs through Robinson Park and the Seabrook Wildlife Refuge Park. Lush vegetation, a walk along the water, wildlife, tall, beautiful pine trees … You can’t ask for a much better transition from being cooped up in the house or office all day.
  • Houston Arboretum :: Positioned next to Memorial Park, the Arboretum boasts 14 trail options on 155-acres of greenspace in the middle of Houston. This stroller and little-walker friendly space is a long-time favorite of ours. Take a break in the nature center to cool off, and let your child learn all about the animals and vegetation living in the Arboretum.
  • Nassau Bay Wildlife Peninsula :: Nassau Bay is a small, water-front community in the Clear Lake Area. We love to start at the newly upgraded Nassau Bay City Park and make our way down to the protected wetlands on the Wildlife Peninsula. The trail on the Peninsula was recently completed and features beautiful views of Clear Lake. No dogs are allowed in the protected wetland area though, so leave Rover at home for this one.
  • Galveston Island State Park :: There are seven, yes  — SEVEN — state parks in the Greater Houston Area. Our favorite happens to be Galveston Island State Park. This is definitely more of a Saturday daytrip than a post-work reprieve, but well worth the drive. Just 11 miles towards the west once you hit the Seawall, this park has fantastic Ranger lead hikes, or you can venture out on your own on one of the 10 hiking trails beside Galveston Bay. We love to hike to the observation towers to look over the whole park or even check out the stars on a clear night!

If you live a little further from the Gulf Freeway, you may want to explore Mercer Arboretum {Humble}, the Anthills at Terry Hershey Park {West Houston}, Burroughs Park {Tomball}, and Cullinan Park {Sugar Land}.

Hiking Houston {My 5 Favorite Spots} | Houston Moms Blog


Kimberly V - BioAbout Kimberly V.

Kimberly grew up all over the greater Houston area, landing in Baytown for her formative years. College brought her to the University of St. Thomas {UST} in the heart of Montrose, where she met her husband Michael. After a BA in Psychology at UST and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Houston, Kimberly and Michael got married in September 2010 and have had a whirlwind several years of having babies – Elijah {July 2011}, Jacob {May 2013}, and Matthew {April 2015}, starting careers, and settling down in the Clear Lake area. When she’s not working full-time in the non-profit sector, she loves camping, hiking, and lazing around the house with her family.

One Response to Hiking Houston {My 5 Favorite Spots}

  1. Avatar
    Mimi April 3, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    What about the wildlife? We moved here from out of state, where we used to hike regularly. But, I’m scared to take my 2 small kids to roam about where “do not tease alligators” signs are posted.

    And, when we first moved here, I was excited when I spotted the Nassau Bay Nature center. But, before I even parked, two opossums scurried in front of my car. I hate opossums. 🙁

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