If you’re visiting Houston, staying in town, and have limited time but just need to get in some quality outdoor time, head to Terry Hershey Park. Situated on the west side of town, it stretches on for about 6 miles between Beltway 8 on the East End and Highway 6 on the West.
This 500-acre park follows the Buffalo Bayou, and offers a variety of outdoor possibilities, including hiking (or just strolling), mountain biking, even canoeing. Hershey Park also has paths that connect to nearby George Bush Park, so if you feel like wandering for hours or getting in a good long trail run, this is the best place in Houston proper to do it.
You’ll find that, even though it’s in town, Hershey Park makes you feel like you’re miles away. It has nice amenities, but it’s also secluded and just rugged enough to make the perfect quick escape from civilization.
The park’s main hike and bike trail is a total of 12.5 miles long (out and back) and winds along the bayou, with direct access to the water, and many bridged crossings. This is beautiful forested property and you will see lots of wildlife, especially the usual suspects in bayous, including snakes (such as poisonous copperheads), turtles, and lots of fish.
Because the trail also is paved much of the way, it’s great for leisurely strolls. However, many sections of the main trail have a parallel dirt trail, and the park also has several other sections and side trails, so it’s easy to find relative seclusion and get dirt under your feet.
Multiple Dirt Trails
There are multiple dirt trails, usually named for their entrance locations, at Edridge, Kirkwood, Dairy Ashford, and Wilcrest roads. These make great short hikes, and combined, provide lots of time wandering the wooded acres. The Anthills trail runs along the south side of the bayou, and it’s great particularly for it hills, a find that’s rare in the coastal plains of southeast Texas. Anthills can be a great hike, but hikers generally should stay aware on this trail, especially on weekends, since it’s prime mountain biking and BMX territory. Anthills also can be great for trail running as long as you leave your earbuds out and pay attention for bikers’ “passing” hoots.
Other side trails connect to the larger trails, and you’ll just have to find those. That’s sort of the point in hiking when you’re in town, isn’t it? Get lost a little. You won’t be able to go too far without seeing someone or ending up on a street. It will just feel like you’re miles from the city you’re actually in.
Parking is easy to find at Hershey: There are lots at each end of the main trail—off Highway 6 in the west and Beltway 8 on the east end (just off the service road for the tollway, southbound side)—and in the middle, off Dairy Ashford Road.
For more information, including maps, trail conditions and other updates visit the park’s website at TerryHersheyPark.org. You can also call the park office at 281-496-2177.