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URBAN PATHS & SCENIC TRAILS: HOUSTON’S BEST RUNNING SPOTS

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Lindsay McClelland

JUL 11, 2019

To be honest, we can’t think of a good reason not to run HOU. Why? Houston has tons of great spots to rock out on a run. From parks to paths along the bayous, this big city has you covered.

Plus, with its flat terrain, running in Houston can be a speedy feat! So where should you run in H-town? Here’s a list of our favorite spots to lace up your running shoes and hit the road (or trail)!

If you like running by innovative art installations while the smell of donuts and fried chicken wafts through the air (easy now; you have running to do), try the Heights Boulevard Trail. The boulevard is lined with works of art that are switched up every few months, so you’ll always get something a little different. Plus, this route is part of the annual Houston Heights 5K, one of the fastest 5ks in town! Fitt Tip: After your run, check out Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts for the aforementioned treats.

If museums and monuments are your thing, give this two-mile route in Hermann Park a try. Blooming in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, this outdoor destination gives runners unique scenery, lots to explore, and great photo ops, including the Houston Zoo, rose garden, and even a replica of the Washington Monument — complete with a reflecting pool. And when you’re done with your monument tour, check out the hill at the Miller Theatre for some intense hill repeats!

Named after the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, this 7,800-acre area is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown. The west end of the Terry Hershey Park Trail is where you’ll find the trailhead for this paved route, which will take you on a scenic run through the woods and along swamps. Fitt Tip: This run trail doesn’t loop, so make sure you have enough time to double back once you reach the end.

We're all aware that the Houston heat can be absolutely scorching at times, and that’s why this just-under-three-mile dirt loop is perfect for summer running. The trees surrounding the trail provide natural shade, not to mention a pretty view! And if you're looking to tack on more distance, you can add an extra two miles by crossing the street to Hermann Park. But you can also swap those extra miles for a brew by heading to the graduate student pub, Valhalla, for $1 beers (to quench your thirst, of course).

When it comes to neighborhood running, Boulevard Oaks takes the cake. The beautiful, historic neighborhood just north of Rice University is filled with mature oak trees and wide, quiet streets, making it a peaceful spot to enjoy a jaunt through the city. Zig zag up and down North and South Boulevard, then cut down Graustark St. to finish up at the runner-friendly neighborhood coffee joint, Black Hole.

Houston totally stepped up its trail game with Buffalo Bayou. Recently redeveloped, this paved path makes running through the middle of the city feel like you’re in a park miles away from downtown — that is, until the gorgeous downtown skyline pops up! The trail is a runner’s paradise with several water fountains (major plus in H-town), “runner-only” asphalt trails in addition to paved, bike-friendly ones, and plenty of art and nature to keep things interesting. Do the full five-mile loop, or add miles through downtown or to Memorial Park for a longer run. Make a whole morning (or day) out of Buffalo Bayou fun by brunching it up at The Dunlavy or stretching it out with a hot yoga class at BIG Power Yoga across the street.

Houston runners know Memorial Park as the mecca for those who like to explore the city on two feet. The three-mile gravel loop is the hub for most running clubs in the city, as it’s centrally located and offers access to other running trails. While parts of the loop are periodically closed, word on the street is the trail is being expanded to include new routes. The park also features a running center with showers and towel rental, making it easy to head straight to work after a morning workout! And if you’re looking for a little more adventure, hit up the Color Trails for some trail running (and a brand new perspective of Memorial Park).

Houston’s flat — we’ve covered that. So, when it comes to training for races outside of Houston, runners need to get creative! Spotts Park is a basin-shaped park which makes it one of the best spots (pun intended) to get some hill training in. Plus, it’s within a close jog to both Memorial Park and Buffalo Bayou if you want to connect to the trails there after you're done getting those quads burning.

Great for runners of all levels, this mostly-paved route just a short drive outside the 610 loop is ideal if an easy, post-work or afternoon jog is what you're after. Clocking in at close to 13 miles, this east-to-west trail runs along Buffalo Bayou and offers three separate areas for parking and entry along the way, so it's not hard to access, either. Plus, if you want to get in a little bodyweight workout after (or during) your jaunt, there are several exercise stations throughout the park.

As part of the White Oak Bayou Greenway, this paved, two-way bike trail connects The Heights to downtown, so it's great if you're looking to explore one of Houston's most-loved neighborhoods. Pack your phone for this run, though, because the area's street murals, historic homes, and views of the city skyline make ideal for photo ops. Bonus: Local businesses like Black Swan Yoga and JuiceLand support local runners and bikers by placing coolers along the trail, so don't hesitate to take advantage when you need a pit stop.

When all you want to do is put your AirPods in and run and run until you can't anymore, the Brays Bayou Greenway Trail is the move. Part of the Bayou Greenways 2020 project, once complete, the paved trail system will traverse 35 miles past historic sites, city parks and gardens, and picturesque sights. Even better, the route is 10-feet wide, so there's plenty of room for fellow runners (or cyclists).