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Best Houston Area State Parks

Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning
Photograph by tpwd.texas.gov

Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning

Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning is located just 20 miles east of downtown Houston. Admission to the park is free and it offers fishing activity at the Sheldon Lake. The park has 0.5 mile nature trail that offers bird watch, wildlife viewing and nature study opportunities. The 82-foot John Jacob Observation Tower allows visitors to see panoramas of the surrounding wetland and lake. Sometimes visitors can also see downtown Houston skyline and the San Jacinto Monument.

Address: 14140 Garrett Rd, Houston, TX 77044


Brazos Bend State Park
Photograph by Dk69, via Wikimedia Commons

Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park along the Brazos River is home to American alligators. The state park is located just 45 miles from downtown Houston. The state park features 37 miles of hiking trails, wetlands, coastal prairie, and bottomland forest. Nature Center offers exhibits on the three ecosystems in the park. George Observatory located in the park is part of Houston Museum of Natural Science. Recreational activities include hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking, camping, and wildlife viewing.

Brazos Bend State Park Trails

  • Creekfield Lake Ada Trail (0.5 mile)
  • 40 Acre Lake Trail (1.2 mile)
  • Pilant Slough Trail (1.2 mile)
  • Prairie Trail (1.3 mile)
  • Red Buckeye Trail (1.4 mile)
  • Big Creek Loop (1.7 mile)
  • Elm Lake Loop (1.7 mile)
  • Live Oak Trail (1.7 mile)

Address: 21901 FM 762 Rd, Needville, TX 77461


Stephen F. Austin State Park
Photograph by Larry D. Moore, via Wikimedia Commons

Stephen F. Austin State Park

Stephen F. Austin State Park is located just 50 miles west of downtown Houston. The historical park and area was the home of the first 297 families Stephen F. Austin brought for establishing Anglo-American colonies in Texas. The state park features 5 miles of hiking and biking trails along the banks of the Brazos River. San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site located nearby features a museum, interpretive trails and statue of Stephen F. Austin. Park activities include hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

Stephen F. Austin State Park Trails

  • Brazos Bottom Trail (0.49 mile)
  • Copperhead Trail (0.53 mile)
  • Cottonwood Trail (0.71 mile)
  • Ironwood Trail (1.04 mile)
  • Barred Owl Trail (0.69 mile)
  • Opossum Loop (0.34 mile)
  • Pileated Trail (0.68 mile)
  • Nature Trail (0.12 mile)
  • Sycamore Trail (0.51 mile)

Address: Park Rd 38, San Felipe, TX 77473


Galveston Island State Park
Photograph by Yinan Chen, via Wikimedia Commons

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island State Park located on western Galveston Island features dunes, wetlands, and beaches. The park offers 4 miles of hiking trails with scenery and wildlife viewing. The park has boardwalks over dunes and marshes, observation platform for bird watching. Galveston Island State Park offers fun activities for everyone including swim, fish, bird watching, hiking, camping, and picnicking. You can also bring your own canoes or kayaks and enjoy paddling. The park nature center is only open weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The beach side of the park is closed until 2022. Campsites with electricity and water are open for bay side only.

Address: 14901 Farm to Market 3005, Galveston, TX 77554


Huntsville State Park
Photograph by John Bonzo, via Wikimedia Commons

Huntsville State Park

Huntsville State Park is located 65 miles north of downtown Houston in the Sam Houston National Forest. The park offers 21 miles of hiking trails. It is popular for recreation activities on the 210 acre Lake Raven including fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boat. Park activities include hiking, biking, picnicking, camping, and viewing nature.

Address: 565 Park Road 40 west, Huntsville, TX 77340