Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buffalo Bayou Park Biking Trails

Trails run along Buffalo Bayou, in between Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway, from Shepherd Drive in the west to Bagby Street in the east.

To me as a mountain bike beginner, aside from a few "steep" hills and a couple of sandy parts that are pretty slippery, this trail is easy. The circuit is a little over 6 miles long. Most of the trail is not shaded, so use sunscreen.

Midday Sunday in the summer doesn't seem to be that crowded, nor as hot as one would think. Weekday evenings tend to be fairly crowded. On a bike this means a lot of maneuvering around walkers, joggers, and dogs.

Ample parking is available in the lots to the side of Sabine Street Lofts, off of Memorial Drive. There is also the Eleanor Tinsley parking lot off of Allen Parkway.

Interesting Notes:
Along this trail, you will cross paths with the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony. You'll know it when you start smelling the guano.

If you take the trail all the way east, you end up in Sesquicentennial Park. I must say I had no idea that this area east of Sabine Street was so nice! I took some not-so-great pictures on a camera phone, and we chatted about the peculiar culture of Houstonians and why more people weren't out enjoying this. In fact, in this area of the park, there were more homeless people than people hiking/biking.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Camping & Hiking - Now Let's Try Biking!

I thought it was going to be way too hot to bike in Houston during the summer. This is why I wanted to hold off getting our bikes until the fall. However, a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I had gone to Memorial Park to see what the trails would be like, and we were pleasantly surprised. As we entered the woods, both of us had that feeling that we were camping. The part that we walked (the entrance was to the left of a baseball field) was completely shaded, so it actually felt very nice, despite it being 95+ that day. This is where I became sold and gave in (after poor Nick wanting to get bikes for several months now!) I will say that I want to become very familiar with my bike before attempting this trail, as we saw some pretty steep and narrow parts.

We took our first ride yesterday on the Buffalo Bayou trails. It was a lot of fun! We loaded up our Camelbacks with ice and water and brought along some dried fruit and nuts. Had plenty of sunscreen because the majority of this trail is not shaded. I guessed we biked for for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, didn't really notice the time. We kinda made a clockwise loop starting from the south side of Allen Parkway where we found parking, up the Waugh Bridge - after passing the bat observation deck - then traveled east along the Bayou, crossing the bridge at the Sabine Promenade, then headed toward where we started. It was a good beginners trail. I walked my bike at a few parts that I thought were too steep, but that's because until I really get the hang of this, I'm going to be very cautious (i.e. wimpy!) Being an urban trail, there's a lot of traffic noise, but the views are nice.

I'm compiling a list of area biking trails (because I am a list junkie!) and will write about them as we do them. So far I have:
  • Buffalo Bayou Park (b/w Memorial Dr & Allen Pkwy from Shepherd Dr to Bagby St)
  • Memorial Park (E of 610/S of I-10, along Memorial Dr)
  • Hermann Park/Rice U Loop (Inner Loop, by Zoo)
  • Terry Hershey Park (b/w HWY 6 & Beltway 8, S of Memorial Dr)
  • Bear Creek Park (N of I-10 b/w HWY 6 & Eldridge Pkwy)
  • Cullen Park (just N of I-10, W of HWY 6)
  • Jesse Jones Park & Nature Center (Humble)
  • Brazos Bend State Park (Needville)
The Houston Nature Walks blog is a good source for area trails.

We hope to bring along our bikes to future camping trips in Fredericksburg and Pedernales, and if we're really ambitious, Big Bend.