The land of Houston’s northeast is slightly rolling and covered by an extensive forest made up primarily of pine.
Settled on the watershed of the San Jacinto River and beside the vast Lake Houston, the people of Houston’s Northeast have a wide array of green spaces to enjoy. Within the many parks dotted around the area are opportunities for canoeing, fishing, cycling, playing sports or just relaxing and appreciating nature. Texas Parks and Wildlife oversees the Texas Pineywoods and provides information and a list of parks and amenities on their website.
The following is a sampling of the many parks and recreation areas in the area. For more information like hours, specific amenities, maps and reservations, contact the park directly.
LARGER NORTHEAST HOUSTON PARKS
Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center
The Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center helps visitors relax, have fun and get a glimpse of the area’s history all at the same time. The park features a variety of plant and wildlife species, white sand beaches along Spring Creek, swamps and sloughs with ancient cypress trees and a pristine hardwood and pine forest. There are more than eight miles of pedestrian trails and many more primitive trails. The nature center has permanent and rotating displays of local flora and fauna. Redbud Hill Homestead is a re-creation of an 1820s-30s Texas colonization era homestead and it sits beside a recreated Akokisa-Ishak Indian Village. There are also playgrounds, picnic facilities, and a wide variety of innovative, educational and entertaining programs.
Lake Houston Wilderness Park
In Lake Houston Wilderness Park’s almost 5,000 acres of wooded parkland, visitors can hike, bike, kayak, horseback ride and even stay overnight in cabins or walk-in campsites. The heavily forested park also houses the Pine Grove Dining Hall and a nature center with displays of forest and wetland habitats, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Guests young and old can learn about deer, snakes, turtles, even dissect an owl pellet. Or they can go geo-caching, scavenger hunting, fishing, orienteering and more.
Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens
Along the banks of Cypress Creek and divided by Aldine Westfield, nationally recognized Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens has beautiful, well-maintained gardens that feature bamboo, color displays, daylilies, endangered species, ferns, gingers, herbs, tropical and much more. There are also two playgrounds, a picnic area, a hickory bog and boardwalk, a cypress swamp and maple collection and several miles of walking trails. Many on-going programs connect people to plants, like the Chrysanthemum Society, Stroller Strolls, and Children’s Story Time in the Garden. There are many educational programs and tours offered at the center and the team of experienced botanists, horticulturist and gardeners offer a wealth of knowledge and information; they are happy to welcome you and assist you in any way they can.
The large, pristine fishing lake of Stahl Preserve sits tranquilly among magnificent magnolia, ancient cypress trees and many other wildlife and plant species. Along the lake’s edges are paved hike and bike, natural surface and equestrian trails. The 5.5 mile section of paved trail that connects Pundt Park to Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center is part of the Spring Creek Greenway Trail.
SMALLER NORTHEAST HOUSTON PARKS
Located near Spring, Carter Park is a lovely spot to get away from the urban clamor. Visitors can practice archery, ride a bicycle, walk a lovely nature trail, share a picnic at one of the many tables or in the pavilion, launch a canoe or fish in Spring Creek.
Alexander Deussen Park
Situated on the south shore of Lake Houston, Alexander Deussen Park (named for the geologist who donated the 309 acres) has boat ramps, fishing piers, jogging trails, picnic areas, pavilions, playgrounds, a senior center, a duck pond and a water gazebo.
Dennis Johnson Park
Dennis Johnson Park is part of the Spring Creek Greenway and connects to Pundt Park, the Jesse H. Jones Park and Stahl Preserve. In this lovely, leafy gem, visitors can access Spring Creek. There are also picnic tables, a pavilion, a pergola, a small pond, walking trails and a butterfly and hummingbird garden. Big Stone Lodge is located within the park and is a community center that is available for private functions on some Friday and Saturday evenings.
Lindsay/Lyons Park and Sports Complex
This park is all about sports and it features 10 baseball, four softball, two football and two soccer fields – all lighted. In addition, there are 18 unlighted soccer fields, a barbecue pavilion, three 30-seat picnic pavilions, picnic tables and two playgrounds. For those not playing or watching the game, there is a paved walking trail and a sensory garden for sight-impaired children.
Turkey Creek Park
Turkey Creek Park is an equestrian throughway in Cypress Creek Greenway. It connects riders to more than 80 miles of equestrian trails surrounding George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Note: the trails at IAH are open only to riders certified through the Houston Airport System’s Airport Ranger program. However, with Turkey Creek Park and the Cypress Creek Greenway, full-day excursions are readily available to horses and their riders.