By Lone_Star on 2/27/2013
Distance: 1.50 Miles Duration: 40 minutes
I can sum up the Houston Arboretum & Nature in 4 words: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL FIELD TRIP!
For those of you that want to know more, it is a place inside Memorial Park that is free of charge. However, after walking this location, I would have felt ripped off had I paid more than a couple of bucks as it was in very bad shape.
Behind the Nature Center, there is a "tangled mess" of trails. The Outer Loop trail defines the perimeter and several other trails criss-cross throughout the interior. On the day I went, parts of the Outer Loop trail were closed because they were resurfacing them. This didn't make a lot of sense to me because all they were doing was putting fresh dirt over the old dirt and gravel and making it a bit more smooth. I couldn't see the value in doing that since the old dirt and gravel was easy to walk on.
I was expecting the be "Wow'ed" with lots of tree exhibits, interesting ecosystems, and exotic wildlife. What I saw was a bunch of dead trees, many of which had fallen over or broken, and fake turtles in the lily pond. There was no more wildlife or birds than I see on my hikes outside the arboretum. According to their website, apparently the 2012 drought caused a loss of 50% of the tree life and enabled some invasive species to make their way into the arboretum.
One far point, called the Couch Birding Trail takes you to a lookout amongst the trees along Buffalo Bayou. Problem was there were no birds and you could hardly see the bayou. Everything kept turning up short of expectations.
I had hoped to spend a few hours here learning and enjoying the grounds, but I ended up leaving in 40 minutes. This looks like a place where Elementary Schools take field trips to get the kids out of the classroom and teach them about nature. Kids might like it, but I didn't. I hope this place can rebound and make a comeback.