Sometimes you need to switch up your running route, but luckily, there are plenty of places to go in Houston! Our guide to the top 8 amazing trails to run near Houston will give you some recommendations for the most beautiful, safe, and accessible running trails in (or near to) the city.
The Best Places to Run In or Around Houston
There are several amazing places to run if you live in Houston. We’ve included some trails that are right in the heart of the city. And there are few that involve a little bit of traveling to get to, in case you want to explore the local area outside of Houston.
From easy loops located in parks to more challenging terrain in national forests, there should be something here for everyone, from beginners to more experienced runners.
We’ll give you all the crucial facts you need to know (endpoints, the length, the kind of surface you’ll be running on, and where to park your car), and then we’ll go into more detail about each trail. We’ll let you know how busy they can get, the kind of amenities you can find there, and how challenging each trail is.
Here are our top 8 trails to run in (or near) Houston in no particular order!
1. White Oak Bayou Trail
|End Points||White Oak Bayou (near Shady Grove Lane) and Buffalo Bayou Greenway Trail (Smith St. & Franklin St.)|
|Parking||3012 White Oak Dr 77007, 603 Rutland St Houston 77007, 2973-3199 Katy Freeway Service Road 77007|
If you want to go for a long run in Houston, this is the place to go. It’s a 17-mile run along the bayou, with a mixture of asphalt and concrete. It’s well-maintained, so you won’t have to worry about tripping over, but it’s hilly, which is something to bear in mind if you’ve only just started running.
You’ll enjoy a beautiful view of the bayou, passing several parks along the way. There are a few overpasses that you will have to cross over too, but mainly, it offers a great view. There are a few connections to this trail. This means you can choose to park at several spots (like the Central Business District, West Houston On-Street Bikeway at 34th Street, and Ella Boulevard).
There aren’t many facilities along the way here. There are water fountains, but they are spread out quite far apart. So, bring some water with you to keep you going along the way.
It’s a peaceful place to run, and it gets a little busy at times. However, if you’d rather avoid going on a run alone, this is an excellent place to go. You’ll probably find many people running along the same trail!
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2. Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail
|End Points||Off the feeder road of Beltway 8 or from Memorial Drive|
|Parking||Buffalo Bayou Bike Trail, Houston, TX 77077|
Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail is a peaceful place to run, ideal for beginners. It connects various trails within Memorial Park, and it’s a long but beautiful trail. It’s well maintained and pretty flat without many steep areas.
It’s a beautiful trail, with plenty to look at, beautiful trees to provide shade, and small bridges to cross over. There are plenty of flowers and foliage here throughout the year, but you’ll particularly enjoy visiting here in the fall when the leaves start to change. Of course, you can go to George Bush Park too, which has a beautiful reservoir, and a nature reserve too.
This is a busy trail. If you want to avoid the crowds, come out here early! It’s an excellent place to go if you want to feel safe while you run, as there will be plenty of people around.
If you go from one end of this trail to the other and back again, you will have run nearly 13 miles in total, which is great! You can turn around whenever you start to feel tired and work your way up to that length if you’re new to running.
3. Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail
|End Points||Memorial Park|
|Parking||1001 E Memorial Loop Dr 77007|
If you’ve ever been to Memorial Park, you may have spotted the Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail. It’s designed to be used for running and walking, and it’s a trendy spot, offering plenty of amenities, beautiful surroundings, and a lovely view of the city skyline.
It has a wide path with shade for hot days and amenities such as bathrooms and water fountains. You can enjoy other features the Memorial Park has to offer, including the Running Trails Center (7575 N. Picnic Lane). The center has lockers to keep your belongings safe, as well as showers for you to use afterward.
It’s a well-maintained trail, well lit, so you won’t ever feel unsafe here. You’ll probably be running alongside many other people enjoying the same spot, and a great place to meet new people!
If you want, you can leave the loop to go and enjoy the surrounding gardens. Further, you can make the most of the free parking near the East and West Memorial Loop Drive trail. Unfortunately, it may get busy at peak times.
Bonus Read:10 Best Skyline Scenic Views in Houston, TX
4. Brazos Bend State Park Figure Eight Loop
|End Points||Brazos Bend State Park|
|Parking||Damon, Texas, 77430|
This short run is located in Damon, about 45 minutes away from Downtown Houston with a very gentle, well-maintained trail. It has minimal elevation or steep areas. You’ll be running along two lakes, with a connecting trail between them.
There are some amenities here, including bathrooms and a playpark for kids. One thing to watch out for is flooding, as the park has flooded after heavy rains. If it’s been raining a lot, we’d recommend checking to see if the park is closed before you make your way there.
It’s a fairly popular trail, and you will spot other runners and families here. So you should feel pretty safe without feeling overcrowded.
The nature here is fantastic. Keep an eye out for migratory birds, herons, ducks, frogs, and turtles. Also, be aware of the alligators hanging around here!
There is a playpark at Brazos Bend State Park, with a picnic area and a parking lot (in the southwest of the park), or there’s a slightly larger parking lot and picnic area in the northeast.
5. Rice University & Hermann Park
|End Points||Rice University, Hermann Park|
|Length||1.49 miles (Hermann Park), 2.98 miles (Rice University)|
|Parking||6601 Fannin St 77030 (Hermann Park), 6100 Main St 77005|
This trail runs through the Rice University campus, and it’s an excellent spot for all runners, not just students. Made up of gravel and concrete paths, it has plenty of shade to rest in. Moreover, it’s a pretty gentle, reasonably level trail with few steep areas. And there are a lot of benches around, so it’s a good spot to go if you’re only just getting started with running.
The scenery here is breathtaking, with gorgeous buildings covered in climbing ivy, beautiful oak trees, and fountains. There’s plenty to look at as the sight is charming in the fall or the winter on icy mornings. You can run towards Hermann Park, as it is vast and sprawling with tons to explore. You can go here afterward to enjoy the Japanese Garden, grab a bite to eat, or use the restrooms spread throughout the park.
You can use the large parking area outside Houston Zoo and head towards the Rice University campus as part of your run or use the paid parking at the university instead.
6. Buffalo Bayou (Blue Lagoon Trail)
|End Points||Sabine St, Memorial Dr, Lockwood Dr|
|Parking||1643 Memorial Dr 77007|
We’ve included the Blue Lagoon trail for many reasons, but one of the main reasons it appeals so much is that it is a very accessible trail. Ideal for strollers and wheelchairs, it’s a well-maintained trail that the whole family can use. In addition, it doesn’t have much of an incline, so it’s good for beginners and younger runners too.
You’ll be running alongside the Buffalo Bayou, and it has a good lighting system, making it feel a little safer at night. The lighting itself changes from white to blue depending on the phases of the moon, which is interesting. This trial will give you an amazing view of the city. It has several benches to sit on if you need to rest.
This is a popular trail, so you should expect to see many people along the way. It’s a good place to run at night, but we’d recommend running in groups if you don’t feel comfortable running alone.
Parking Lot H is nearby, and it has over 400 spaces, so you shouldn’t have to worry about finding a spot.
7. Prairie Trail at Galveston Island
|End Points||Prairie Trail, Galveston, TX 77554|
|Parking||3502 Seawall Blvd|
Galveston Island is a short drive from Houston, and it has some beautiful trails to walk and run along. You’ll need to pay a $5 entrance fee, but once you’re in, you can enjoy the Prairie Trail, which goes through the marshes, giving you a fantastic opportunity to spot local wildlife.
It’s a relatively popular and safe trail, and the paths are mowed and easy to run along, although you will hit a dead-end eventually.
You can spot coastal birds here. In fact, Galveston Island is a good destination in general for bird watchers.
It’s a short trial, but you have the option to hop onto the Freshwater Pond Trail. Eventually, you will come across an intersection, and there are other areas of the island to explore if you want to keep going.
8. Sam Houston North Wilderness Route
|End Points||Sam Houston National Forest|
|Parking||Lone Star Hiking Trail, Montgomery, TX 77356|
Located around 50 miles north of Houston, this is a beautiful, slightly more challenging trail. With a different terrain type, you’ll face a few interesting challenges here, including creek crossings (which can sometimes prove difficult, especially if there’s been a lot of rain!). You’ll get muddy on this trail, but it’s well worth it for the views.
It’s pretty popular, so you shouldn’t feel too isolated or alone here. The trail is easy to follow. It is signposted by metal blazes painted white and suspended on posts for runners and hikers to easily see. You can enjoy the trees here and the many small birds, making it a good place to go for nature lovers.
After the creek crossing, if you stick to the track, you’ll come across a swamp area with boardwalks to keep your feet dry. It’s really beautiful, so it’s well worth sticking to this trail.
The Sam Houston National Forest is incredibly beautiful, and it’s one to enjoy over repeat visits so you can explore different areas.
To Sum Up
We hope this has helped you find the best trails for running near Houston! If you want to keep exploring this fantastic city, browse through our guides to get some recommendations. Try our guides to the 5 Best Beaches in Houston, TX, the 8 Best Golf Courses in Houston, and the Top 8 Fishing Spots in Houston, Texas.