Home | Hike, Bike, and Canoe Your Way Through Houston

Hike, Bike, and Canoe Your Way Through Houston

As a growing Texas hotspot, Houston offers many cultural and artistic events and opportunities. For those planning on an extended stay who may need a furnished apartment in Houston, you’ll find that while the city offers plenty of exciting diversions, there’s a natural beauty waiting to be explored. Whether you’re looking for an evening run to wind down after a long day or a day trip where you leave the city behind altogether, amazing wildlife, scenery, and adventures are within a day’s drive.

woman canoeing through the Armand Bayou Nature Center

Buffalo Bayou Trail

The Buffalo Bayou Trail offers nearly 20 miles of hiking trails in Houston. Paved walkways and bike trails make this a great location for an evening ride or run along the water. After a long day at work, sometimes there’s nothing you need more than a chance to stretch your legs and push your physical limits to rid yourself of tension and stress.

These wonderfully interconnected trails stretch through downtown from Sabine Street to US-59. The city of Houston continues to build and expand the trails to increase use and allow easier exploration of the city by foot or bike. The East sector, from US-59 to Houston Turning Basin, adds another four miles of trails, most of which are supplied by private owners adding in easements. Though these trails aren’t as extensive as the downtown trails, they do provide another view of the city.

Buffalo Bayou offers more than just trails. Come at the right time of year, and you might get to experience the Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta. This annual canoe and kayak race puts competitors ages 12 and up against a 15-mile stretch of the Buffalo Bayou. If you want a chance out on the water, boat tours are available year-round and offer a glimpse of Houston history and wildlife. Day or night, family or solo, you’ll find a flutter of activity along the bayou.

Armand Bayou Nature Center

A short 40-minute drive from downtown Houston, the Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC) provides another place to hike in Houston that will make you forget you’re close to the city. Located in the Clear Lake Area, the ABNC is a preserve with wetlands, prairie, forest, and marshes that surround the Armand Bayou. With five miles of trails, you can easily explore the area in an afternoon.

The family-oriented nature center has plenty of educational events for kids, but if you’re looking for something a little more adult, don’t worry! There are far more than nature displays. The available trails and tours are worth a try, no matter your age. Guided canoe tours take in two to three miles of the bayou and let you paddle through the diversity of the Texas eco-system firsthand.

There are also pontoon boat tours through the same area, so you can relax if you’re not up to paddling. Photographers ready to capture Texas beauty can jump into a guided photography tour with a guide who knows the best spots and will identify local vegetation and wildlife.

The bayou attracts a diverse array of wildlife. The ABNC works hard to allow visitors access to wildlife areas without disturbing the animals or their natural habitat. Special tours to visit the rookery, which welcomes herons, egrets, ibis, spoonbills, and anhinga, give you an idea of how Houston’s location along migratory routes bring incredible avian diversity—and, of course, you can’t forget the ‘gators. Check for special gator tour dates to see basking gators and nighttime tours to see them during nocturnal activities.

Big Thicket National Preserve

couple hiking through big thicket national preserve

A bit further afield than the Buffalo Bayou Trail or ABNC, Big Thicket National Preserve takes you 90 miles from the city to some of the best hikes near Houston. An impressive 40 miles of trails wander through Big Thicket. These trails range from an easy .3-mile to the 18-mile hike that takes you to the farthest corners of the preserve.

It’s easy to find something to pique your interest at Big Thicket, as the trails are broken down by length, activity, and the type of scenery you want to find. There are trails that let you wander through wildflowers and others that explore a colony of carnivorous plants. Others pass by nesting birds, while still more trails skirt past mushrooms and other biodiverse attractions. The true outdoorsman will find backpacking, biking, hiking, and fishing along the way.

Big Thicket holds more than land trails. Gliding through the water changes your perspective of the Texas wildlife. Waterways weave their way through the preserve, creating two paddling waterway trails. Take on the full 21-mile paddling trail if you’re feeling daring or stick to the 4.8-mile trail if you just want to try your luck in a canoe.

Camping is allowed on the sandbars along the paddling trails, allowing you to find a secluded spot all your own. Making your way down these waterways does require some preplanning because, even though the trees are marked, you’ll still need GPS coordinates to keep you on track.

Hunters will find a good selection of wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, and feral hogs, all of which can all be harvested in season. The visitor center provides permits on a first-come, first-serve basis. Some areas of the preserve are off-limits during certain hunting seasons for safety reasons. While the preserve follows the State of Texas hunting regulations, you’ll still need to check out the preserve’s hunting guidelines and regulations for additional rules.

Galveston Island State Park

If you’re looking for easy trails that wander through a beautiful landscape, then you’ll find the 60-mile drive to Galveston Island State Park well worth the effort. This sprawling 2,000 acres park has sand dunes, wetlands, and coastal prairies full of wildlife. While the trails take you through amazing scenery, this park is truly worthy of a longer stay so you can enjoy the coast of Texas.

After paying an entrance fee to the park, you can take a swim in the surf. Don’t limit yourself to the beach only in the summer months when it’s crowded. This is a park to enjoy year-round. You might not be able to bask in the sun in the offseason but walking or running along the coastline might be what you need to clear your head. After taking a hike through the prairies or along the beach, launch a kayak into the Gulf for a water workout with unbelievable views.

Bring a fishing rod, as there are plenty of fish in the Gulf; the park also includes a cleaning station. (Be sure to check out Texas fishing regulations and have a fishing license with you.) Try your luck from the shore or wade in to see what swims your way. The campgrounds make the perfect place to cook up your catch before you lie down for the night to the sound of waves on the beach.

Galveston State Park provides a unique opportunity for birding because most bird species that travel between North and South America briefly stop here. Spring and fall are the best times to catch a glimpse of the yearly migration. The wildlife in the park doesn’t stop at birds. The Texas coast also welcomes nearly 148 species of butterflies and moths, many of which can be found in this preserved section of coastline.

Don’t Miss the Natural Opportunities

man fishing on Clear Lake in Houston

Close to the gulf, surrounded by unique habitats, Houston presents a wide range of opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Whether you’re looking for a short canoe trip or a weekend of camping, there are enough parks and preserves to challenge and entrance you. Rivers, bayous, rock formations, caves, and beaches add to the depth of experiences you’ll find in this cultural hub.

An extended stay in Houston gives you the chance to experience all it has to offer. If you need a furnished apartment in Houston from which to start your adventures, don’t hesitate to call Corporate Retreats International at 713-665-7777 to set an appointment.


  1. https://buffalobayou.org/our-vision/hike-and-bike-trails/
  2. https://www.abnc.org/
  3. https://www.nps.gov/bith/index.htm
  4. http://galvestonislandstatepark.org/