Places to walk in Houston Houston Walking Trails Houston Hiking Houston Hike and Bike Trails Trails in Houston Where to walk in Houston Where can I walk in Houston Nature Trails in Houston Walking

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mason Park

This walk makes me think we should rename our blog to Elaine and Tamara's big adventures. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out where to go next, where to go to get through, where to go to get across the bridge, where to go to get around the fence, where to go to get back on the other side of the water, where to go to get around the mud, and where we are now. It was a long walk (approx. 5 miles), but by far the funnest we've been on. The walks just keep getting better and better.

Our initial goal was to walk the trails at Mason Park, (1.4 miles) but as you'll read, you'll realize we got a little side-tracked. We did start out there though; we parked in the free parking provided within the park, off of S. 75th St, and hopped on the first trail we saw that looked like it would take us around the park. There are several trails within Mason park so if you go there and feel uncertain as to where to get started, just follow the other walkers/joggers. There were a lot of people out using the park the day we were there. Everyone seemed to be really friendly and didn't hesitate to say hello, which was very nice - some trails don't offer up those kinds of friendly folks. 

Mason Park itself is an older park, having gotten its start under a different name in 1928. Acreage was added to it over the years along with a community center, a swimming pool, tennis courts and other upgrades.  Some parts of the park look better maintained than others. One of the most wonderful things about these older established parks are the enormous trees they have, and Mason park does not disappoint. Having a picnic under one of these giant shade-givers would be worth the trip alone but the area has so much more to enjoy.

The trail winds around the park and gives way to a wider path, set next to the bayou. Several years ago this section of the bayou had its banks widened to ease flood situations and at that time, the wide concrete trail near the water was built and some land was set aside for conservation.  The bayou is so wide here, if it moved a little faster you would think it was a big river. These industrial and conservatory efforts have created a setting in Mason Park  that is void of city-feeling. You'll find yourself looking around to get your bearings. On a couple of occasions I had to look around to  find the big buildings of downtown to make sure I hadn't been transported to the most rural, country river in Texas. The sensation, down by the bayou  -especially this section- is fantastic.

The main trail that circles around Mason Park ends near where it begins - at the parking lot off S. 75th; but if you feel up for more adventure, like we did, you can walk over the bridge and across S. 75th St. to Dallas St. We followed Dallas St. west a few blocks, through the residential neighborhood, close to where it ends. Here, Dallas St. lets into more of the formal, wide-trail, bayou conservation land, and beauty that is found across the way at Mason park.  It's difficult to spot the trail head at first because the area surrounding this part of the trail is still being developed, but once we got going on the trail the stark construction landscape quickly gave way to over-growth and wildflowers. This section of the trail is isolated and obviously less used, but more beautiful than the more widely known section at Mason Park. As a fact, I don't believe we saw one person on this part of the trail while we were there - just some golfers at the adjacent golf course. There were lots and lots of wild sun flowers which had grown so tall they had walled in the trail in several sections, lending to that feeling of being transported out of the city.

Soon we came up to an entryway to a trail crest, which is clearly a bit older and has probably been there since before the bank widening project occurred. Here, at this secondary trail, the walkway switches from concrete to asphalt, and the surrounding growth rearranges itself from wetlands to forest and thicket. One of the first things I noticed along this part of the trail were the wild mulberry trees full of ripe berries. My husband is from Iran where mulberries are consumed in abundance, and was especially happy to hear this bit of information. I think we'll go back soon to pick some. Aside from the berry trees, it's difficult to even begin listing off all the other hundreds of trees, vines, bushes, creeping wild flowers, and birds we noticed. One of the real beauties of this part of the trail was the Morning Glories which had crept on just about everything and were in full bloom. We saw lots of birds too, most were swooping and diving, and then hiding in trees -  we could hardly catch a color, much less identify them, but we had a lot of fun speculating about what we thought we had just seen. This portion of the trail ends near the Gus Wortham Golf Course driving range. There are two signs (end and begin) near this "end" that says it is the Brays Bayou Trail, so even though it's not physically connected, it must have been conceived of and built at the same time other sections of the Brays Bayou trail were. 
Morning Glories

After making a pit-stop at the golf course club house, we retraced our steps on this choicest section of the trail and found our way back to the main trail where we headed south, around a bend in the bayou, toward Lawndale St. This south part of the trail had lots more sunflowers and other interesting flowers, like the Sensitive Briar for example, which I think should be renamed Reunion Tower because that's what it immediately made me think of  - Dallas' Reunion Tower, lit up at night. I am endlessly amazed by the wild things that grow in Houston.  It should be noted that this section of the trail had some wash-out on it so was pretty muddy in places. We tried out different methods to get around or through the mud as safely as possible. Our shoes got pretty muddy, but we didn't fall -- knock wood. We happened to be there after a rain so I doubt the trail is always muddy.
Sensitive Briar

The trail ends abruptly at Lawndale Street where we stopped and spent some time figuring out how to get back to the park without backtracking through the mud. We decided to use the bridge on Lawndale St. to cross over the bayou, and had determined that respectfully walking through the beautiful Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery would be the nicest and easiest way to get us back near Mason park. The cemetery is enormous and we thought for sure we would find an outlet on the back side of such luck. We didn't want to walk back through the cemetery because we were so tired having already walked over 4 miles. Some debating and trial and error about how to get out ensued; although, thankfully, neither of us suggested climbing over the fence. I won't go into too many details about the trials and errors, but let's just say, there was some squeezing and ...ahhhemm....some not fitting and some more squeezing involved. In the end we found a nice adult-sized alternative to exiting the cemetery - a bit further down we found a wide gap in the fence that didn't require any squeezing, bending or other acrobatics. I would recommend to any walkers who try out this path to by-pass the cemetery and use the neighborhood streets (as indicated in the map below). 

From the cemetery exit point, we could see the original bridge we had crossed over from the park but had to spend a bit more time figuring out how to get back to it - thank goodness for GPS. We mapped out what looked to be the shortest path and set out, encouraging one another that we could make it this final distance. We had gone about five miles at this point and were pretty well worn out, but eventually, we did make it back to the parking lot where we had parked our cars. 

This walk was beautiful, interesting, and an adventure to be certain. Next time, I think we may just stay on the trail, even if it means walking back through mud but I certainly wouldn't trade in this experience for another.

Happy Houston Trails


View Larger Map

No comments:

Post a Comment