Great Place To Exercise
By Lone_Star on 2/7/2013
Distance: 16.50 Miles Duration: 5 hours
This review covers parts of Terry Hershey Park and the adjoining George Bush Park.
It would be helpful to reference a map of the area when reading this review so you know which areas I covered. The reason is some areas are still being constructed and George Bush Park doesn't show up very well at all on GoogleMaps.
My hike started at 12:30pm. I parked in the lot off Memorial Drive near Eldridge Parkway and took the paved path heading north along the stream of water coming from the Addicks Reservoir. I walked under Memorial Drive and in the vicinity of I-10, I was thrilled to see an extension trail was being built so I decided to take it. It was all dirt (actually mud since it rained the day before), but passable. The path headed to the Addicks Dam, then west along the border of the dam. Just prior to reaching State Hwy 6, the path cut south and ended at the Park N Ride at Park Row. From there, rather than go back through the mud, I chose to head east and follow Park Row out to the feeder road along I-10. I walked east until I was able to catch the trail going under I-10.
I then caught the Buffalo Bayou Hike/Bike Trail on the west side of the water and headed south until I got to Mockingbird Trail, then headed west until I reached Hwy 6. There, I crossed under the Hwy and took the George Bush Park Hike and Bike Trail that goes arounds the Barker Reservoir and headed north. The path was long and seemingly neverending. It was also full of cyclists. Eventually the path turned west and I followed it all the way to the Sergeant JR Hatch Skate Park. At this point I turned around, but instead of walking on the bike path I decided to walk up on top of the reservoir berm. It was a rocky service road and a little more difficult on the feet, but the added 20-30 feet in elevation gave me a great view of the reservoir and the wildlife within. I also didn't have to worry about dodging cyclists so the trade-off was definitely worth it. It made it seem more of a nature hike rather than a park walk.
I followed the path all the way back around past the point where I started (near the reservoir dam) and continued south another mile or so to where the paved bicycle path ends (near Briar Forest Drive). By this time the sun was started to dip low, so I headed back north to the dam, then east on Mockingbird Trail back into Terry Hershey Park and back to my car.
The scenery was nice in Terry Hershey Park. There were a lot of exotic birds and nice bridges spanning the bayou and waterways. The scenery was not so nice in George Bush Park.
On the day I did this, it was cloudy and fairly cool so it was an enjoyable walk. On hot days, it could be punishing. There were hardly any water fountains so I would strongly recommend you take something to drink and snack on.
The path is flat all the way with the exception of places where you go under roads and freeways. I was a little putoff by the lack of restroom facilities so make sure you "go" before you get going. Also, the maps provided by the park are terrible and sparse. It's hard to get lost, but it's easy to get disoriented. A GPS would be helpful since printed maps are not available.
I made this trek on a weekday so the pedestrian traffic was not too bad, but there were a lot of cyclists. In the late afternoon when people got off work and out of school, the volume of bikers and joggers picked up considerably. On weekends, I imagine it could be congested.
It is hard to rate the solitude of the park since there are places where it is calm and tranquil and other spots where you're deafened by the roar of freeway traffic. I would not consider this a place to go hiking, but rather a place for exercising. It's a nice area if you're a cyclist. The long straight paths at George Bush Park are even better for cyclists since they can push their speed to their limits.
Despite walking all afternoon, I did not complete this park. There are some other paths in Terry Hershey Park that I did not walk and some long bike paths in George Bush Park that actually take you into the area of the reservoir. I will have to do those another day, but for now, it's time to soak my aching bones... :)
Update: I hiked the other trails in George Bush Park about 2 weeks later. You can read that log entry here.