So last time I was in downtown Houston, I posted On the Run: Houston – focusing on running around Sam Houston Park and Hermann Park.
This time around, I explored the following paths:
Buffalo Bayou between Sabine and Shepard (technically it’s the Eleanor Tinsley Jogging trail but the locals just call it Allen Parkway). This ~4.8 mile trail consists of an asphalt path (no worries, you can run on a dirt trail along side the path). Allen Parkway is a popular place to run if you’re looking for some rolling hills - they’re not big hills but they are still hills. Last visit to Houston brought me to Sam Houston Park…and if you go just beyond that, you will come across the Buffalo Bayou Park. Last time I just explored the areas along the canal. This time, I found that you can run a dirt path all along Allen Parkway up to Shepard Street. And I later found out that the smell under the Waugh Street bridge…it comes from bat guano of the largest urban, non-migrating, bat colony in Texas. But still…it’s a great path, very close to downtown Houston, and highly populated.
Memorial Park – When I looked up this park, I noticed that it was rated one of the most popular running locations in Houston. There is an ~3 mile loop consisting of crushed granite (no bikes allowed), and the Ho Chi Min trail, for the serious trail runner. I really enjoyed the park! I felt like I could run for hours just taking a different turn here and there. The trail is an excellent alternative to beating the pavement around the neighborhoods for sure. I also loved the heavily wooded surrounding area and the easily accessible restrooms. The cons – as a traveler - are that unless you have a rental car or someone to drive you around, this park is just outside the limits of getting there by foot. Also, I found that parking can be a bit of a challenge at 5pm. But you have easy access to the park – definitely a top place to run!
I found another great trail surrounding Rice University. The 2.9 mile dirt path trail loops around the whole university under the shade of mature oak trees. The campus side of the trail runs beside Rice Stadium, Hackerman Bike Track, Reckling Park, and Rice Soccer Field. To the outside, there are high-end neighborhoods, medical buildings, and Rice Village. You’ll find a good mix of runners from the area, students, and just your normal foot traffic along the path. What I like most is the trail is extremely well shaded for about 90% of the trail – this will surely be a favorite when I return in the summer/fall. Not as wide as Memorial Park – the trail is about 3 running people wide – yes that is a scientific measurement - with extra gravel run off that can accommodate other passers! I felt very safe along the trail too – due to lots of other runners/walkers and the busy streets beyond the campus.
Again – a reminder on Runner Safety while traveling:
- Plan ahead! Have a lil’ bit of fun on Google.
- Talk to the locals. I personally like to chat with the concierge/front desk upon check-in. I tell them I’m a runner and ask for the best local places. Make sure you ask about the safety of the area, times the park is open, best route to get there, etc.
- Pack your gear. I packed my running belt because I knew I would want to keep my hotel room key, my license, a credit card, and some cash stashed on me. If you have “The Grid” Foam Roller, you can also pack that!
- Safety First. Especially if you are traveling alone, you should let someone know where you plan on running. Just a quick call to let them know the general area where you plan on running. I also left a lil’ note on the desk in my hotel room with the date and time. A lil’ paranoid? Maybe. But peace of mind, just in case.
If you know you are going out-of-town, and do not know the area well, take a quick 30 minutes to search out the area online. Bring up Google and look up the area surrounding your hotel – look for parks, highways, etc. I mapped out distances between the hotel and the local parks. Sometimes the parks have a website which can give you additional information. Once I arrived at the hotel, I also chatted with the front desk to get their opinion on great local places to run. Part of their job is to know what the guests are looking for – and I have yet to be disappointed with suggestions! And one great thing about the running community, they are usually very friendly and supportive. If you head to a local park or track, you can ask another runner/walker for their suggestion on places to train!
So that was me ‘On the Run’ in Downtown Houston – Part 2!
Do you have any additional running locations I should check out on my next visit to Houston?