Although the Houston area is as flat as a pool table, as the late-August floods clearly showed, there is actually some pretty great hiking in that corner of Texas. In this post, I’ve listed the five best hiking destinations near Houston for you. If you’d like to get out of the city, this is where you should go first.
Bustling City Life
As the fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston is one of the greatest urban destinations in the country. Lots of history and a thriving restaurant and craft beer scene are some of the things you can expect. Houston is also home to some of the world’s most successful companies and a number of renowned institutions. You could easily spend several days in Houston, especially if you stay at one of these excellent hotels, but I highly recommend that you get out of the city as well.
Five Best Hiking Destinations Near Houston
From Houston, you have to drive pretty epic distances to get to the two sensational national parks in Texas, Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend national parks. If you can’t spare three or four days, focus on the following hiking destinations near Houston.
Sam Houston National Forest
A massive forest less than an hour north of the city, Sam Houston National Forest is arguably the best of these hiking destinations near Houston. Day visitors can explore short and scenic trails while learning about the area’s lengthy human history. Serious hikers, on the other hand, can find solitude on the 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail.
Distance from Houston: 50 miles
Bastrop State Park
If you’re looking for simple natural beauty, make your way to Bastrop State Park. This peaceful park is most famous for its stands of ancient loblolly pines, post oaks, and junipers. The park’s isolated pine woodlands are also known as the “Lost Pines of Texas.” Activities range from hiking and biking to swimming, camping, and fishing.
Distance from Houston: 130 miles
Big Thicket National Preserve
Surprisingly, you can find one of America’s most biodiverse areas just a short drive outside of Houston. Big Thicket National Park Preserve is the only National Park Service unit in this region, a place home to more than 100 tree species and more than 1,000 kinds of flowering plants. Wildlife is abundant, too, in the nine different ecosystems in this relatively small park, including all four groups of venomous snakes in North America.
Distance from Houston: 90 miles
Stephen F. Austin State Park
On the banks of the Brazos River, Stephen F. Austin State Park encompasses the site of the first colony in Texas and offers great camping and hiking. There are only 6 miles of hiking trails in the park, which leaves you with plenty of time to immerse yourself in the area’s rich history.
Distance from Houston: 50 miles
Galveston Island State Park
Arguably the best coastal destination near Houston, Galveston Island State Park is a place of refuge — not only for people but for lots of wildlife, too. Even though this park lies only an hour’s drive from Houston, it’s an entirely different world. Popular activities, besides hiking, are bird watching, fishing, and paddling.
Distance from Houston: 60 miles
If you ever find yourself in Texas’ most metropolitan city, these five hiking destinations near Houston offer a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city.