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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Harrisburg Hike & Bike Trail

This is my new favorite trail. It's not very long, only 1.5 miles (one way) but it is just a lovely trail, in a friendly little neighborhood, in the Second Ward.  To get to the trail, we could have parked on the street at the trail head, but we opted to utilize the free parking at Eastwood Park instead. We parked there and walked across Harrisburg Boulevard, and half a block northeast on Bryan Street to get to the Harrisburg Hike and Bike Trail. It should be noted that, on Google maps and other web sites, the trail is named Harrisburg and Sunset Rail Trails. On the trail itself though, the signage indicates the name as Harrisburg Hike and Bike Trail (no Sunset). I tried to locate the history of the trail to find out why the two names, but had no luck. Guess I'll keep searching around for that information, but for now I'll assume that the rail line that was once where this trail is now, was named the Sunset line, and then when it became a trail and ceased being a rail, the nearest major road lent it's name to the identity of the trail. Also, another note is that the trail is in two parts separated by about 10 blocks. The section of the trail I refer to here is the larger and further west of the two. We'll try to incorporate the smaller, easterly section into a future walk/blog.

Blessed Sacrament Church
Fallen Tree
The trail itself is asphalt and segmented by a line, giving plenty of room for both walkers and bikers. We found a plaque along the trail which indicated that a conservancy had planted trees along the trail about 15 years ago, so the trail is about 50% shaded with well established trees, which makes it really nice to walk on sunny days. Because this trail cuts right through a residential neighborhood, there were lots of locals, both bikers and walkers, using the trail to get around the area. Everyone seemed friendly enough, and the people and houses visible from the trail added that home-town, quaint quality, you don't often find on the trails around Houston. Some lovely architecture visible from the trail (belonging to a local church), added to the home-town effect. There were a couple of things we noticed on the trail which we didn't enjoy so much; one was the stray dogs. There were several of them, which could have turned into a bad situation, but they all kept to themselves so therefore, was not a real problem.  The other thing was a tree that had fallen directly onto the trail from its roots, which could have been a deterrent for bikers, but we were able to maneuver under/over it with no problems. Hopefully the tree will be removed soon.

Monk Parakeet Eating Loquat
Hairy Woodpecker
Alongside the many healthy trees, which were in abundance, there were lots of bushes and plants growing naturally along the trail, some belonging to the trail and some belonging to the back yards lining the trail. Due to all of the growth, and of course the spring season, the birds were out in numbers. A few we spotted were: a Hairy Woodpecker, a Robin, several chickens (in someone's yard), lots of those feisty Mocking Birds, and several Monk Parakeets (aka Quaker Parrots). The Monk Parakeets were busy cutting small sticks from the trees for nest building, and one was hanging out in a loquat tree eating its breakfast.  The one eating loquats let me get in pretty close to take a picture before he dropped his fruit and flew off.  Adding to the ambiance of the trail were the blooming flowers, which weren't prolific but the few available were high quality, as they had been left alone and not overly manicured. There were Yaupon Holly blooms and berries, freshly blooming Oleanders and just-opening lilies - of which I don't know the variety name but was impressed with the beauty. The entire trail was amazing and even though we could see the big buildings of downtown from the trail, it seemed we were in small-town-USA. 

Skaters at Eastwood Park
Once we completed the trail we decided to enjoy Eastwood Park while we sipped our coffee. On the way there we stopped in at A&R food market (corner of Harrisburg and Bryan) where we were greeted by some very friendly employees and got a very yummy breakfast burrito and, surprisingly, a truly tasty and mild cup of coffee.  Back in the park we sat on a bench near the basketball courts and visited while the people of the neighborhood enjoyed the park around us. There was even a small skate park there where we got photos of a couple local skaters. The trail was a marvel, and it was a true community we spent time in during this walk. We look forward to visiting the area again. We may just make this one of our go-to trails.

Happy Houston Trails,


Oleander Blooms

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