Happy New Year everyone! This post is from my hometown of Houston, which while being the fourth largest U.S. city, is not well-known for having big visitor attractions. Tourist sights here are more subtle so I will be including some posts over the next few months on some Houston hidden finds.
One place I would recommend is the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, which is a wildlife sanctuary near the center of Houston. Located on 155 acres, the Arboretum is a protected haven that includes native trees, birds, turtles, butterflies, and frogs. With five miles of trails in a populated part of the city, visitors may see anything from squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, armadillos, snakes (some poisonous!) and even alligators on the sanctuary’s grounds. Included in the Arboretum is a visitor’s center, gift shop and a discovery room for school children. Admission to all facilities is free.
The Arboretum is popular with families as special events include night tours looking for owls or bats.
The grounds are a quiet escape in the middle of a major U.S. city. While visitors can hear the sounds of highway traffic on Interstate 610 on some trails, it seems surreal to be in a Texas wooded forest near stores and offices. Walkers will see limited signs of civilization on the trails like railroad tracks and power lines, as for the most part, the trails are in a thick woods or swampy area.
I have hiked several of the trails and luckily have never seen any snakes, alligators or coyotes. I have seen different species of birds, squirrels, large rabbits and I believe a small wildcat (I could only see four legs under some brush running).
Depending on the time of year, I would recommend wearing bug repellant as Houston’s mosquitos can be awful in the summer. Following a rainfall, the trails can also be slippery and hikers should wear shoes with good traction.
The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is not well-known outside Houston but for visitors in south Texas, these grounds are something unique. The Arboretum gives visitors an idea of what life in a Texas woodland would be like.
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
4501 Woodway Drive
Houston, Texas 77024