Hit the Trails at Memorial Park
Houston › Memorial Park
Added by Sarah Vaughn
10 miles of multi-use trailsGreat mountain biking within HoustonSingletrackRunning, hiking, cycling optionsWildlife viewing
Memorial Park is a hub for Houstonians looking to escape that busy day-to-day urban rush. With a 3 mile running loop and 10 miles worth of multi-use trails to offer, the park does tend to get pretty busy, however it is rare that you would not be able to find parking on any given day.
The best trails of Memorial however are the Color Trails (formerly Ho Chi Minh Trails) on the South end of the park. To get to a good starting point, heading East on Memorial Drive, turn right onto North Picnic Lane. I would suggest parking near the Softball fields as there are two trailheads by the fields. I would recommend starting on the Purple Trail. Remember these trails are multi-use, so you will come across many hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers. If you are a trail runner it would be wise to run without headphones on the Color Trails as you will not be able to hear oncoming mountain bikers. The trails aside from the Purple Trail are all singletrack so you will definitely want to be alert for oncoming traffic!
The suggested route I am going to write about is pertaining to mountain bikers, however the same route can be used for trail runners and hikers alike.From the Purple Trail turn right onto the Yellow Trail once entering into tree coverage. The Yellow Trail has its share of roots and banks to maneuver across. Some sections have drop-offs up to 30ft and may not be entirely comfortable for a new rider to take on, but with some practice will start to come more naturally. Take the Yellow Trail south until it reunites with the Purple Trail once again. At this junction you can pick up with the Orange Trail. The Orange trail is a very fun, fast trail that while offering up the same challenges as the Yellow Trail, has its very own challenge referred to as "the chute" which many riders love to take on. The chute has traffic going both ways so make sure you give a nice yell before dropping in to avoid any nasty accidents. It will funnel you out quickly to the bottom and take you across a footbridge before leading you up a very steep hill. Once you make it up the hill you can follow the Blue Trail back out to your original starting point.
If that wasn't enough for you, you can always ride the rails in the opposite direction for a different experience and extra mileage. Additionally, if you follow Memorial Drive east you will find another trail called the Green Trail that is my favorite of the park. It is the longest trail and is set apart from the rest. This is another one that can be enjoyed riding/running in both directions as well. As for hikers, check out the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center (http://houstonarboretum.org) in Memorial Park for additional wildlife viewing and free of concerns regarding getting ran over by speedy mountain bikers.
Ready for that rewarding beer after a nice day spent on the trails? Stop in at nearby Luke's Ice House (lukesicehouse.com) on Washington Ave for some free chips & queso, and on Fridays $1 beers from 6pm-7pm!
Check out the map of the Color Trails to help plan your next ride or run (note that all of the trails are appropriately colored the same as their name): http://www.trailrunninghouston.com/wp-content/gallery/houston-area-trail-runners/hatr-ho-chi-minh-trails-at-memorial-park-map.jpg
- Water/ Camelbak
- Helmet if mountain biking
- Hiking or trail running shoes
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Chillin, Cycling, Fitness, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Running
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The trails are ok. Mostly flat with a few "downhill" sections. What they lack in elevation and beauty they try to make up for with roots... lots and lots of them. Most of the time the trails are washed out and in the summer months.."it's always summer in Houston," it is packed full of mosquitos. Don't try to slow down for a drink of water or waiting for your friends cause the bugs will get you. I guess the real difficulty of riding Memorial Park is avoiding malaria.
Great trails to mix it up and escape the Houston heat
The Memorial Park trails are a great way to add some flavor to your running! Also during the hot months the trails offer some great shade to avoid the baking Houston sun. Another great post-run/bike place to check out for some food and drink is Canyon Creek, just out of the exit for Memorial Park on Westcott Street
Closest you're going to get
Houston's highest elevation is found on freeway overpasses, so whenever you get a chance to ride a trail with any sort of vertical angles, you jump all over it. This trail really is amazing in that it is right in the heart of the concrete jungle, but you can "get away" so quickly. It's a great way to wait out the traffic and get a good ride in before heading home for the day.
I lived in Houston for 5 years and this really is the perfect way to feel like you've escaped the city. There are so many trails to choose from whether you're biking or hiking. Though I will say bug spray is super necessary during the muggy months.