Home Traveling guide 7 Gorgeous State Parks Near Houston That Are Worth Visiting

7 Gorgeous State Parks Near Houston That Are Worth Visiting

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Houston has no shortage of scenic parks to picnic in or hiking trails to explore. But if you’re looking for a place where you can spot local wildlife, mountain bike through a forest, or fish in a lake or pond, there are several beautiful state parks near Houston worth checking out.

From Brazos Bend State Park to Village Creek State Park, keep reading our top picks for fun on the trails, in the water, spotting wildlife and more.

Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center

Location: 20 miles from downtown Houston

Just a 15-minute drive from downtown Houston, you’ll love everything Sheldon Lake State Park has to offer, from wildlife viewing and boardwalk walks to boating and hiking. the Peach.

Sheldon Lake Phase 5 Restoration Project

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife/Chase A. Fountain

First, walk the approximately half-mile Pond Loop Trail, which takes you past 28 hatchery ponds, teeming with waders, frogs, alligators, and other aquatic animals. If you’re not making the most of the free catch-and-release fishing at two stocked ponds, you can opt to keep your catch when fishing the shallow 1,200-acre Sheldon Lake, the lake’s namesake body of water. Park. Before packing, be sure to take a stroll along the 3,000-foot prairie/wetland promenade and climb to the top of the 82-foot John Jacob Observation Tower for sweeping views of the park and the Space City skyline in the distance.

Good to know: All trails are ADA accessible. Additionally, LEED-certified facilities showcase “green architecture” and the use of alternative energy.

Find it: 14140 Garrett Road, Houston, Texas 77044

Brazos Bend State Park

Located: 45 miles from downtown Houston

Considered a “nature lover’s paradise,” there’s plenty to see at Brazos Bend State Park. Our vote begins with a bite to eat in the shade of the live oak trees draped in Spanish moss at the park’s picnic areas, before traveling through some of the nearly 5,000 acres of lakes, meadows and forests.

A man riding on the trails of Brazos Bend State Park.

A man riding on the trails of Brazos Bend State Park.

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife/Chase A. Fountain

The park offers nature programs and hikes to do year-round, or instead, tackle the more than 30 miles of multi-use trails by bike or on foot on your own. Along the way, expect to encounter some 300 species of birds, alligators and white-tailed deer (keep your binoculars handy!). There’s also a winding, tree-lined cove for fishing and six small lakes on-site. If you bring your own horse, you can also go horseback riding on 21 km of multi-use trails.

Find it: 21901 FM 762, Needville, TX 77461

Stephen F. Austin State Park

Location: 80 km from downtown Houston

You might be about an hour from Houston, but welcome to Austin, folks. Well, Stephen F. Austin State Park. Perched along the Brazos River, meander through approximately 473 acres of scenic hardwood forests draped in moss and towering cottonwood trees on the shallows while spotting wildlife, hiking, and biking at your leisure. On these grounds you will find Pileated Woodpecker, White-tailed Deer, Barred Owl and more.

Stephen F. Austin State Park

Stephen F. Austin State Park

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife

Want to spend the night? Take advantage of the park’s full 30-amp hookup, water and primitive campsites; screen shelters; cabin; and group facilities. History buffs, take note: Mexico granted this land to Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” and it became home to the state’s first Anglo-American settlements in the early 1800s. .

Find it: Park Road 38, San Felipe, TX 77473

Galveston Island State Park

Location: 60 miles from downtown Houston

For another of the best state parks near Houston, venture to Galveston Island State Park. The postcard-worthy location offers some of the best views along the Texas Gulf, encompassing 2,000 acres from ocean to bay. Access is open to visitors to the bay side of the park, where you can admire the coastal meadow, freshwater ponds and salt marshes for wildlife viewing, hiking, kayaking (BYO boat) or fishing.

An aerial view of Galveston Island State Park.

An aerial view of Galveston Island State Park.

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife/Chase A. Fountain

If you choose to stay a while, book one of the beach or bay campsites (lodge rentals are also available) for the night. At the bay’s edge, choose from historic homes, tents, and multi-purpose campsites with restrooms and showers nearby. The park is expected to open its newly revamped beachside facilities this summer, with new campgrounds, picnic areas and restrooms.

Find it: 14901 FM 3005, Galveston, TX 77554

Huntsville State Park

Location: 60 miles from downtown Houston

Pins? Check. Wild flowers ? Check. Lake fishing? Check. If all that and more sounds like you, head to bucolic Huntsville State Park with 21 miles of trails, a playground, a bird blind, and a nature center. When you’re not swimming in the 210-acre Raven Lake, rent a kayak or fish for crappie, perch, catfish and bass or just soak up the beautiful Sam Houston National Forest.

A man fishes off a dock in Huntsville State Park.

A man fishes off a dock in Huntsville State Park.

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife

It should be noted that the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), created by President Franklin Roosevelt, helped build parks throughout the country, and in 1937, one such society made up of African American veterans built the park in of Huntsville State.


Good to know: The group room built by the CCC can be rented for weddings and events.

Find it: 565 Park Road 40 W., Huntsville, TX 77340

Lake Livingston State Park

Location: 118 km from downtown Houston

Good luck running out of things to do at Lake Livingston State Park, located on the shores of an 83,000-acre lake, with catfish, perch, crappie, and white bass at galore. It’s pretty much a fishing oasis here, thanks to a fishing pier and three boat ramps, two fish cleaning stations, and shore fishing. When you drop off your gear, stroll along the Pineywoods Nature Trail Boardwalk, complete with two ponds, a native pollinator garden, and a bird blind. A host of free ranger programs are available, and the nature center has several interactive exhibits (there’s even a live bee hive).

A kayaker paddles past a camping trailer at Lake Livingston State Park.

A kayaker paddles past a camping trailer at Lake Livingston State Park.

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife/Chase A. Fountain

Go to the park store to buy food, souvenirs and to rent watercraft. If you choose to stay overnight, the park offers plenty of campsites, including full hookup sites and 10 screened shelters (some are ADA compliant).

Find it: 300 Park Road 65, Livingston, TX 77351

Village Creek State Park

Location: 95 miles from downtown Houston

About an hour and a half drive from Houston, Village Creek State Park sits along Village Creek, one of the few free-flowing creeks in the entire Lone Star State. Savor the fresh air and tranquility while picnicking, fishing, hiking or mountain biking. Or see if you can spot bobcats, rabbits, white-tailed deer, possums and more among the loblolly pines and white oaks, beeches and magnolias.

A man with binoculars pauses on a bridge at Village Creek State Park.

A man with binoculars pauses on a bridge at Village Creek State Park.

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife / Earl Nottingham

The wetlands are also home to beavers, river otters, fish, turtles, snakes and frogs. For one night, choose campsites for tents and RVS or a chalet rental for six people.

Find it: 8854 Park Road 74, Lumberton, TX 77657