Buffalo Bayou Trail

Trail
4.80 Miles
N/A
Free
2stars (2.30)5
1star (1.00)
halfstar (0.70)
N/A
Yes
Yes
N/A
Houston
Harris
More Info
Photos
Some Spots Are A Little Run-Down
Some parts of the trail have a lot of trash, graffiti, abandoned or demolished structures. Exercise caution in these not-so-nice spots. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Scrap Metal Recycling
There is a scrap metal recycling company on the other side (north bank) of Buffalo Bayou. Walking past it is noisy and unaesthetic. (Photo by Lone_Star)
The Other End Of The Trail
The other end of the trail terminates at Lockwood Dr. (Photo by Lone_Star)
End Of The Trail
The trail ends where a fence cuts off the path just under the train bridge that spans Buffalo Bayou. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Another View Of The Trail
Some parts of the trail are poorly maintained and overgrown. (Photo by Lone_Star)
View Of The Trail
The trail runs along the south bank of Buffalo Bayou and gives you a nice view of downtown Houston. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Work In Progress
A lot of landscaping and park improvement work was being done in the area of Eleanor Tinsley Park. It will be nice once it is finished. (Photo by Lone_Star)
End Of The Trail
This is a view of downtown from the end of the trail on the northeast side of Houston. This part was not very nice or safe. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Concrete Jungle
Some parts of the trail like this one near downtown were extremely noisy due to the traffic on the roads above and not very safe to walk through as there were a lot of homeless and unkempt characters milling about. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Another Not-So-Safe Spot
Remote places like this were a little hairy because they could be prime spots for attackers to hide. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Close-Up Of The Destroyed Bridge
I was tempted to try and walk across this bridge, but the planks were completely burned and there was nothing to hold onto. The bridge was 20-30' in the air, so it was hard to balance. I decided it was best to turn around rather than risk a fall. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Bridge To Nowhere
This is the part of the old, dilapidated train bridge that I could not cross. The wooden track crossmembers were badly burned and the fence was destroyed so there was nothing to hold onto making it unsafe to cross. (Photo by Lone_Star)

Only showing last 12 photos. View All Photos

Log Entries
Buffalo Bayou To The Second Ward
By Lone_Star on 10/24/2013
Rating: 1point5stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 1star
Distance: 12.30 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 55 minutes

Today, I hiked the part of the Buffalo Bayou Hike & Bike Trail that I was unable to complete on my previous hike (October 15, 2013).  Specifically, I hiked the section on the south side of Buffalo Bayou in northeast downtown.  I also hiked Tony Marron Park as well as the Harrisburg and Sunset Rail Trails and Hidalgo Park.  Rather than loop back and move my car from place to place, I thought it was easier to simply hike from one trail to another through the streets of Houston.

Since this was a varied hike, I will discuss each section separately.

I parked my car and started my hike at Tony Marron Park.  The park had a playground and some open, grassy areas, but overall the park was rather dirty.

I then hiked out of Tony Marron Park on the Buffalo Bayou Hike & Bike Trail heading west towards downtown Houston.  The trail was paved cement in some places and dirt trail in others.  Some parts of the trail were poorly maintained and overgrown and it did not take you through a very nice or safe part of town.  Just past the railroad tracks beyond Jensen Drive, the trail ended abruptly and you could not go any further due to a fence.  This is noteworthy because on my October 15th hike, I had to turn around while crossing an old, out of service train bridge that crossed Buffalo Bayou.  I was disappointed because I thought that if I could have gotten all the way across, I would have been able to hike along the south bank of Buffalo Bayou to Tony Marron Park, which was my original hike plan on October 15th.  Today, I learned this was not possible.  From what I can learned, the Buffalo Bayou Hike & Bike Trail is not a single continuous trail, but rather two disjointed sections -- one that is mostly on the north side of the Buffalo Bayou (i.e., the part I hiked on October 15th) and another segment on the south side of the Buffalo Bayou (i.e., the part I hiked today).  If this isn't clear, please look closely at my two .GPX track files to see where these segments run.

Back to today's hike - after I was forced to turn around, I hike back to Tony Marron Park and then kept going east along Buffalo Bayou to Lockwood Dr.  Along the way, I got a view of the inner bowels of the city's junk metal scrap yards.  Noisy, ugly, smelly, industrial...

At Lockwood Dr., the trail ended so I turned right and started walking through the streets of the Second Ward to pick up the Harrisburg Rail Trail.  This is intended to primarily be a bike trail, but it will be useful to pedestrians (hikers and joggers), too.  However, it should be noted that this trail is currently under development.  They were still pouring the concrete when I hiked it.  I should also point out that the map shown on the "View Alternate Map" link shows the trail veering onto Harrisburg Blvd, but I think this is the way they want you to go right now while the real trail is being developed.  If you look at my track file, you will see that the trail runs between some housing developments and runs parallel to Harrisburg Blvd.

When the Harrisburg Rail Trail ended, I then walked further through the Second Ward to pick up the Sunset Rail Trail.  This trail is finished and runs adjacent to the railroad tracks all the way to Hidalgo Park.

When I arrived at Hidalgo Park, I walked around and through the park.  I should mention that the Second Ward is primarily Hispanic and at times I felt like I was walking through a Mexican border town.  All the businesses were Hispanic and I found that Hidalgo Park commemorates the founder of Mexico.  I welcome and appreciate diversity, but I'm not sure why the park commemorates a foreign hero rather than a domestic one.

Anyways, on my way back, I decided to take Navigation Blvd back as a short cut since I did not see any benefit to hiking back the same way as there was not much to see.  I just want to make that clear to anyone reading this log because my track file consists partly of trails joined together with some urban walking.

Buffalo Bayou To Skid Row
By Lone_Star on 10/15/2013
Rating: 1star Difficulty: 1star Solitude: halfstar
Distance: 16.30 Miles Duration: 5 hours, 43 minutes

I've been looking for longer urban walks, so walking the various bayous in Houston fit the bill.  For this hike, I decided to walk Buffalo Bayou, the main bayou in Houston.  I started my hike at Spotts Park and walked east towards downtown.  The city of Houston has invested a lot of time, money and effort into making this a nice, scenic park and I was impressed... until I got to downtown.  Unfortunately, the downtown area and the section to the east of downtown is not very nice and is populated with homeless hobos, drug addicts, alcoholics and many other undesirable vagrants.  The smell of trash, piss and excrement is strong enough to make you gag.  You also pass the jail, police station, rehab centers and bail bond businesses, so you get the idea of what it's like.

I should mention that the Buffalo Bayou trail connects to many other park and hike & bike trails.  Some of these trails take you through some shady areas near the city center.  I am an ex-military paratrooper and pretty hard core, but frankly there were sections I did not feel safe and became slightly paranoid and hyper-vigilant since I was hiking by myself.  I felt this way during the broad daylight, so this is definitely not something I would do in the early morning or evening, especially if you are female.  I would also not suggest hiking alone, but hiking with others because there is safety in numbers.  In the areas that run under the major freeway overpasses, the noise is so loud that if you were assaulted no one would hear your screams for help.  Also, some parts of the trail take you through remote areas where there are some "blind spots" where you don't have good visibility to see if anyone is waiting to jump you and the shrubbery would conceal anyone from seeing/helping you if they did.  Fortunately, it seems that the HPD (Houston Police Department) is aware of these dangers as I did see a number of car, bike and horse patrols.  That gave me a little more psychological comfort.

The west part of the Buffalo Bayou trail is nice, well-lit, and safe.  The signage is very good, too, which is helpful since there are many trails branching off in various directions.  This is the section that runs from Shepherd Dr. to the Sabine Promenade.  It gets worse near the area where the Heights Hike & Bike Trail picks up and takes you east.  Frankly, the Buffalo Bayou trail dead ends near downtown and you have to get your bearings and walk through the downtown streets for several blocks to pick up the Heights Hike & Bike Trail.  When the Heights Hike & Bike Trail ends, you can pick up the trail along Buffalo Bayou again where it resumes on the northwest side of downtown, but this area is run down and not very nice.  I wanted to cross over the bayou and finish hiking to Tony Marron Park on the other side, but the old, out of service train bridge that leads you across is in terrible shape.  Some metal grating has been placed over the old tracks and a chain link fence to protect you from falling into the bayou, but about 2/3rds of the way across the grating stops and the fence is badly damaged and mostly missing.  I suspect these materials were taken by homeless people to help build shanty shelters.  This left me in a precarious predicament where I thought about trying to balance and walk on the wooden support planks that run perpendicular under the tracks, but these have all been badly burned and could have easily given way under my weight.  This could have caused me serious injury or to fall 20+ feet into the dirty bayou below.  Even though I only had another 50 feet or so to go to get to the other side, I deemed it impassable and was forced to turn around.  I'll have to hike the rest of the trail from Tony Marron Park to this burned out train bridge another day, but I'm not looking forward to it since it will be another dangerous trek.

On my way back, I hiked through Autry Park, the Sabine Promenade, the Lee and Joe Jamail Skate Park, and Cleveland Park.  These are all parks that are on the way or nearby.  You can find some additional details of my hike through those parks on my logs of those locations.

By Eveline on 2/11/2006
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: halfstar
Distance: 6.20 Miles Duration: N/A
Great place to walk
By Eveline on 1/18/2003
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: halfstar
Distance: 6.20 Miles Duration: N/A
By Eveline on 1/23/1999
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 1star
Distance: 6.20 Miles Duration: N/A
Recommended Item
Recommended Item 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Houston: Includes Huntsville, Galveston, and Beaumont
Laurie Roddy
List Price: $16.95 Your price: $13.62 Buy Now
Seasoned hiker Laurie Roddy guides readers on a variety of exciting Houston-area treks, from the Big Thicket of east Texas to the coast of Galveston Island. Destinations include old native homesteads, untouched prairies, deep forests, riparian woodlands, urban byways, wetlands, wildlife preserves along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, and scenic bayous and waterways. Each chapter serves as both a navigational aide and an interpretive guide that familiarizes hikers with the many wondrous destinations in and around the Bayou City.