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Friday, March 16, 2007

Terry Hershey Park (Hike and Bike Trail)

Introduction: Terry Hershey Park is part of the Harris County park system. It has a small playground, a gazebo, and approximately 10.83 miles of hike and bike trails. It stretches from the Barker Dam, east along Buffalo Bayou to beltway 8 near the junction of Rummel Creek and Buffalo Bayou. http://www.pct3.hctx.net/parks/terryhershey.aspx

NOTE 09/08: TERRY HERSHEY PARK - WEST HOUSTON BIKEWAY CONSTRUCTION PROJECT; this City of Houston and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) construction project will impact Terry Hershey Trail operations between Eldridge Parkway to the parking lot on I-10. In fact, the portion of the trail under construction may be completely closed for an extended period of time. Please contact TxDOT at 713-934-5900 if you have any questions about the construction of this project. You may also wish to look at the City's website for more information on the project at City of Houston's West Houston Bikeway Program.

Location:The official address is 15200 Memorial Drive at Memorial Mews. This is between Eldridge Parkway and Highway 6. This main parking lot is where the playground, orchard and gazebo are located. It also has a good map of the entire park. Parking lots are provided at Highway 6, north of the bayou, and Beltway 8 (access off southbound tollway service road). Also, there are parking lots on Dairy Ashford on the south side of the bayou, and on the north and south sides of Memorial Drive at South Mayde Creek, and off the east bound I-10 service road at South Mayde Creek. http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?wip=2&v=2&style=r&rtp=~&&cp=29.77989~-95.62299&lvl=14&sp=aN.29.77989_-95.62299_15200%20Memorial%20Dr,%20Houston,%20TX%2077079&msnurl=map.aspx?L%3dUSA%26C%3d29.77989%2c-95.62299%26A%3d7.16667%26P%3d%7c29.77989%2c-95.62299%7c1%7c15200+Memorial+Dr%2c+Houston%2c+TX+77079%7cL1%7c%26redirect%3dfalse&msnculture=en-US

Hours: 7 am to 10 pm

Scoring: Walking = 4.5 Nature = 4
Walking: The walkway is concrete and asphault, well maintained, even and about 10 feet wide. Noise level is moderate as it is a little distance from Memorial Drive. Some of the trail is lighted and there are restroom facilities and water fountains available. The trail is shared with cyclists, most were going too fast and did not let walkers know they were passing. Parts were under tall trees, but a lot of it was not shaded. There were no trail markers to let you know which trail you were on and how long you'd be walking. However, there is a good map at the trailhead. There are also occasional park benches along the trail.

Nature: The entire trail system runs along Buffalo Bayou. On one side of the trail is the bayou, the other side was residential neighborhoods, but these were mostly shielded by large berms. These berms also offer the walker a chance to climb up and down to get better exercise. Lots of birds; I even saw a couple of hawks. Mockingbird Trail is mostly in the sun, not shaded.

Background:The land for this park was originally acquired in the 1940s as part of the Addicks and Barker Reservoir projects. Harris County began planing the park in 1985 and leased 500 acres aong the banks of Buffalo Bayou and South Mayde Creek from the Flood Control District in 1987. Harris County Commissioner Radack proposed changing the name from Buffalo Bayou Park to Terry Hershey Park to honor the conservationist who led the campaign in the 1960s to derail a plan to pave the banks of Buffalo Bayou as had been done earlier to portions of the banks of White Oak Bayou and Bray's Bayou.

Along the trail, there are ten bridges. Lots of tall trees and interesting bushes along the trail and the bayou. Saw blackberry bushes, azaleas, purple mountain laurel. Small patches of wildflowers were blooming on the berms and along the trail (in March 2007).

The Hike and Bike Trail is the main element in Terry Hershey Park. But there are other features, including restrooms, gazebos, a lighted walking trail, exercise stations, playground, and picnic sites. There is a walk-in sundial where your shadow will tell you the time if you stand on the appropriate stone (and if the sun is shining). This feature is in the section of the park between Memorial Drive and Interstate 10.

Coolest Thing About Park: This is one section of the bayou walks in the city that "felt" safe. There were no vagrants or homeless about, probably because this is so far out of the downtown area. I really enjoyed being able to walk alone along the bayou, something I feel uncomfortable doing nearer my home in the Montrose area. I walked around Noon on a Friday, and there were just enough folks about that I didn't worry, but not too many to feel crowded.

Trails: Trails are well maintained, about 10 feet wide and built of concrete or asphault with rocks embedded. The ones nearest the main park facility are well-lighted.

The trails are Cardinal Trail loop (.9 miles), Blue Jay trail loop (1.25 miles), Mockingbird trail (hwy 6 to Eldridge - 1.62 miles), Quail Trail (Eldrige to Dairy Ashford - 1.5 miles) (Dairy Ashford to Kirkwood - 1.1 miles) (Kirkwood to Wilcrest - 1.09 miles) (Wilcrest to Beltway 98 - 1.31 miles), Robin Trail (.45 miles), and Robin Loop (1.61 miles). The Cardinal and Blue Jay trails are around the main park site near the playground and the orchard. Trails are not marked (as far as I could tell), but there is a map near the playground. Map can also be found at http://www.pct3.hctx.net/pterry/Layout.pdf

Other things you'll want to know:

1. Bathroom facilities are at the main park at 15200 Memorial. Also on Quail Trail east of Eldridge.
2. There are water fountains, including doggie water fountains all along the trail. Also a runner's shower (outdoors) on the quail trail.
3. All of Cardinal and Blue Jay trails are lighted.
4. Much of the trail would be appropriate for wheelchairs, although I thought the walkway that went under Memorial was too steep.
5. People walking the trail included women pushing strollers, cyclists, fathers and their children, solo men and solo women of all ages.
6. Saw birds, squirrels and some interesting plants (wish I knew what they were!).
7. Park has picnic tables, playground, Molly Pryor Orchard, walk-in sundial, and a gazebo.
8. As always, carry ID, cell phone and water with you and use sunscreen as much of the trails are not shaded.
9. Harris County constables patrol the trails and the park.
10. No alcoholic beverages are allowed in park and pets must be on leash.

Feel free to add any comments you think would be useful to others about this blog.

Photography by Mary Anne Fields.
All blog content is copyrighted, all rights reserved, Mary Anne Fields and Life Unfolds, 2006


At Sun Jan 20, 11:52:00 AM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take my children to Terry Hersey to ride bikes, walk, and run. My children range from 14-8. I wish that other cyclists would consider that not all of the people riding at the park are there to practice for the MS150 so they should set a good example and remember the road rules.
We thoroughly enjoy the park, and are thankful that it is so close to our home. We have seen many snakes and rabbits there.
I enjoyed your article and thought that it was right on.

At Sun Jan 20, 01:02:00 PM CST, Blogger lifeunfolds.com said...

I walk and also ride my bike in a lot of parks. I often take my four year old grandson with me. I know what you mean about some bikers. I don't think they realize how easy it is for a child to walk or run in front of them. Children just don't always do what you expect. I really appreciate a biker letting me know they are coming up behind me and slowing down when children are around. Thanks so much for your comment.

At Thu Jul 10, 09:46:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like every time I got out there I see dogs off leash. With all the off leash dog parks we now have I don't know why people continue to break the law.

At Thu Jul 10, 04:21:00 PM CDT, Blogger lifeunfolds.com said...

Most dog owners are responsible and keep their dogs leashed. But I also have noticed that a few dog owners simply believe their dogs will never come to harm or will never harm others when unleashed. It's pretty irresponsible as far as I'm concerned and not in the dog's best interest. When I last was in Hermann Park with our Australian Shepherd, who was leashed of course, another very large dog was running around loose. His owner was talking with someone else in the park. I shouted over to him that his dog was loose. He replied, oh, not to worry, he won't hurt your dog. I replied, It's not my dog I'm worried about! He immediately leashed his dog.

At Thu Sep 04, 02:19:00 PM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, please tell me how to get there. The information link is down and I can't find a map of this trail. If I'm at Beltway 8 and 59, how do I find this? Thanks!

At Thu Sep 04, 06:00:00 PM CDT, Blogger lifeunfolds.com said...

I have since updated the map information so you should be able to link to it now. If not, simply put the address (which is in the blog) into mapquest at mapquest.com and it will give you driving directions. Hope you enjoy the park.

At Wed Sep 17, 04:16:00 PM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the park open? and are they many trees down?

At Sun Nov 02, 02:37:00 PM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though there are some irresponsible dog owners, most of those don't take their dogs to parks at all. I think that the owner of the dog knows more about his or her dog than you do.

My dog has been trained off-leash since I picked him up from the breeder. He knows commands and not to stray away from me. Additionally, he doesn't chase cyclists, attack humans or other dogs, etc. With that said, I probably still wouldn't walk around a bike trail with him off his leash just because it might annoy the cyclists. Still, some of you should lighten up and stop throwing around terms like "irresponsible" when you know nothing about other people's dogs.

At Sun Feb 01, 03:43:00 PM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

very nice trail. saw a black snake by the trail, red head and red belly, black everywhere else, must be poisonous.
definitely need a restroom between beltway and the next restroom.
started from beltway and walked 3.5 miles and the restroom is still miles away, had to walk off the trail on dairy ashford and went to a convenience store.

At Sun Feb 08, 12:25:00 PM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would really love to explore these trails (and all the trails around Houston) by bicycle. But seeing as my husband and I move often, we do not own bicylces. Is there any place nearby that does bicylce rentals? Either daily or by the hour? I have been searching, but can't find anything. Thanks for the help!


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