It might seem daunting to try and find a good place for a morning run in Houston – after all, it’s a city that’s often portrayed by ten-lane highways and miles of buildings and subdivisions. However, running in Houston is increasingly becoming a popular activity with locals, and there are no shortage of beautiful trails in the city.
All sweltering heat and humidity aside, running in Houston can be an amazing experience because of the variety of trails within its giant sprawl. To give you some inspiration, we’ve compiled this list of the best places to go running in Houston.
Best Routes for Running in Houston, Texas
1. Buffalo Bayou Park
- Location: Downtown Houston
- Trail Length: 15+ miles
As Houston’s most famous and photogenic green space, Buffalo Bayou Park is located just outside of downtown and boasts fabulous skyline views of the city. Filled with industrial bridges, tons of trees and plants, and the flowing Buffalo Bayou, the park is easy on the eyes for runners and picnickers alike.
There’s a 4.8-mile loop in the park that’s popular with runners, as it’s a perfect training ground for those who live near downtown. Additionally, the Buffalo Bayou Trail extends through the park for 15 miles, and is a popular spot for hikers, bikers, and runners. From end to end, this paved trail also passes through a handful of other parks, forested areas, and waterways.
2. Rice University
- Location: Rice University
- Trail Length: 2.7 mile loop
The trail surrounding Rice University is a local favorite running spot, and is also one of the iconic landmarks where the Houston Marathon splits from the Half Marathon route. Consistently voted as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States, the outer loop running trail is a picturesque spot to go running in Houston.
With gravel paths, water fountains, and lots of shade, this loop trail is just under 3 miles, and is the perfect place to go for a run, even in the heat of the summer. Practically any time of day, you can find college students and fellow Houstonians running on Rice’s outer loop trail.
Pro tip: Pair it with a run in nearby Hermann Park (below) for a longer,~4.5 mile route. Or, alternatively, you can lengthen your run by entering Rice’s iconic main entrance and taking a jog through the campus itself.
3. Hermann Park
- Location: Museum District
- Trail Length: 1.5 miles
While the loop trail here is one of the shorter ones on our list, don’t rule out Hermann Park from your list of Houston running trails. Aside from being an easily accessible and beautifully-landscaped park, this is one of our favorite running spots in Houston because there’s so much variety throughout the park.
Bordering the Museum District and the Houston Zoo, the park does tend to get crowded during mid-day, but in the mornings it’s the perfect spot for a run. You’ll pass by a beautiful reflection pool, the Japanese garden, a sweeping golf course, and more on a loop through Hermann Park’s gravel trails. You can lengthen your run by heading to Rice University next, or by taking a detour through the many nearby museums.
4. Boulevard Oaks/West University
- Location: West University
- Trail Length: Varies
Running through one of Houston’s most picturesque neighborhoods and iconic Oak canopies is a true treat for the senses, and Boulevard Oaks is the perfect place to get a taste for the lifestyle of Houston’s elite.
Filled with large, beautiful homes, paved sidewalks, and beautiful greenery, this is a side of Houston that’s rarely shown in the media. These neighborhoods surround Rice University, making this area a great detour/addition to a run at the university. Afterward, you can stop for a smoothie at the nearby college town, Rice Village.
5. Brays Bayou
- Location: Rice University/Medical Center
- Trail Length: 14 miles
If you prefer a waterside trail with fewer fellow runners, Brays Bayou has a lovely running route through its Greenway Trail. Extending 14 miles through Houston’s central and southern areas, the bayou has paved sidewalks and underpasses perfect for a short or long run. While there isn’t too much shade on this route, the city is constantly improving the trails to make them more clean and accessible for recreation.
6. White Oak Bayou Trail
- Location: The Heights/Rice Military
- Trail Length: Up to 17 miles
As one of the longest continuous trails in Houston, the White Oak Bayou Trail extends nearly 17 miles through some of the most beautiful areas of Houston. Situated between Rice Military and The Heights, it’s perfectly located in a stretch of greenery alongside the quiet White Oak Bayou. Of course, there are also several overpasses to remind you you’re still in the fourth largest city in the United States, but otherwise, it’s a quiet and peaceful spot to go long-distance running in Houston.
The trails on White Oak Bayou are paved, and you’ll often see walkers and bikers on the trails alongside you. Bring lots of water if you’re heading out for a longer run, as there aren’t many water fountains along the way.
7. Heights Trail
- Location: The Heights
- Trail Length: ~5 miles
The Heights Trail extends through one of Houston’s most vibrant and artistic neighborhoods, and is a perfect paved trail for running in Houston. Extending just under 5 miles, the trail is a lovely place for an early morning jog or an evening run. Along the way, you’ll catch stunning views of the Houston skyline.
Pro tip: There isn’t shade in many parts of the trail, so come prepared with sunscreen and/or a hat during mid-day workout sessions.
8. Memorial Park
- Location: Memorial
- Trail Length: 2.88-mile loop
To the west of downtown Houston lies the quiet, family-friendly neighborhood of Memorial. Filled with giant, grandiose homes and large corporate complexes, Memorial is a popular place to live and work. Its namesake park, Memorial Park, has a lovely running trail that’s popular with West Houston inhabitants. In the past, it was a favorite running spot of the late president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara as well.
Gravel paths and wooded areas characterize the park’s 2.88 mile loop trail. In the evenings and weekends, you’ll find that there are several other friendly neighbors out in the park running, biking, or playing a variety of sports in the nearby fields.
9. George Bush Park
- Location: Energy Corridor
- Trail Length: Up to 11 miles
George Bush Park is a giant, sweeping park located in the far west side of Houston, near the Energy Corridor. There are thousands of acres of park here, which includes an 11-mile trail perfect for running in Houston. Whether you live or work in the Energy Corridor area or simply find yourself out in that direction, George Bush Park is a fantastic place to go for a jog. Here, you’ll find yourself by recreational fields and picnic areas, as well as lakes and bridges.
10. Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail
- Location: Memorial
- Trail Length: 10.7 miles
Situated in the green, wooded neighborhood of Memorial, the Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail is a local favorite. With over 10 miles of trails, this running path is perfect for those wanting to get out of the downtown areas without going too far. A mixture of gravel and paved paths will greet you, and the tree cover provides shade from the hot Houston sun.
11. Mason Park
- Location: Greater East End
- Trail Length: 1.4+ miles
A beloved recreational facility and park in eastern Houston, Mason Park is a small but wonderful place for a short run. It’s situated along the banks of Brays Bayou, meaning that the Brays Bayou trail meets up with the park’s trails for an option to extend your run. Alternatively, you can enjoy your jog through fields, bayou banks, and more as you admire the wooded areas and wildflowers nearby.
- Location: Montrose/Museum District
- Trail Length: Varies
Ah, yes. The neighborhood of Montrose had to end up in our list because it truly is one of Houston’s most interesting, colorful, and downright fascinating neighborhoods to explore on foot.
Because it’s largely residential, there are sidewalks everywhere, making Montrose an ideal neighborhood for running in Houston. As you run, you can admire the various street art around the neighborhood, take a detour through the Museum District, stop by the Menil Collection, and enjoy the colorful, quirky homes and boutiques that dot the area.
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