Houstonians who’re fed up of outsiders (Austinites, especially) deriding our fair city for its lack of elevation and beauty have a new comeback. A hidden, Inner Loop gem has revealed a new trail and ravine and — gasp! — elevation that’s completely explorable.
The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, tucked away near Memorial Park on 4501 Woodway Dr., has unveiled a newly designed ravine trail as part of the nonprofit’s Master Plan. The public can traverse this new trail, which boasts a “true riparian ecosystem” with elevation changes not typically seen in the Houston area, according to the center.
Hikers and visitors can expect two new bridges spanning the ravine to allow the flow of flood waters; a winding switchback concrete trail even provides ADA accessibility to the north bridge and expansive views across the ravine.
Seemingly perfect for a spring stroll, the updated area also has a boardwalk system that brings visitors into the heart of the ravine and native plantings that increase bio-diversity and prevent erosion of the ravine slopes.
Due to flooding, erosion, washout, and other disturbances, access to the ravine and its trail system were closed for three years, while the Arboretum and several partners developed resilient solutions. The ravine is located in the northwest corner of the site.
The ravine is an old tributary of Buffalo Bayou providing visitors with a shaded hike through a native riparian ecosystem. The Arboretum worked with Design Workshop, Inc., an internationally recognized landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm, to lead the design process, according to a release.
In 2012, the Arboretum embarked on a master plan for the nature sanctuary in order to restore the acreage to resilient and sustainable native ecosystems. During the public outreach portion, stakeholders identified the ravine landscape as the most cherished area of the Arboretum, according to the center.