Houston Arboretum Loop
ElevationAscent: 21' 6 m
Descent: -20' -6 m
High: 60' 18 m
Low: 47' 14 m
GradeAvg Grade: 0% (0°)
Max Grade: 1% (1°)
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“A combination of the Inner and Outer Loops to create a diverse 2.5-mile loop.”— Karl W
This description starts at the parking area/visitor center and heads clockwise around the Outer Loop and then counter clockwise around the Inner Loop, but there are a myriad of small trails and connectors that allow a wind range of routes possible. Thus, begin at the far eastern end of the parking lot and pick up the pink Willow Oak Trail. This short trail is wide gravel fill with a few boardwalks, and only a tenth of a mile long. It ends at the red Outer Loop which you should head south on. The entire Outer Loop is also wide gravel filled doubletrack so it should be very accessible for strollers if you have one.
In a short distance, you should see the small Willow Oak Pond to your right (west) which has a secluded bench off a super-short spur. After a third of a mile, you'll come to the open meadow full of wild flowers, a large pond, and the aptly-named North Meadow Trail. This can dramatically shorten the route if you want. Otherwise continue south past the also aptly named South Meadow Trail and the Muscadine Tail. After 2/3 of a mile, you'll read the southernmost point on the Outer Loop and the short Couch Birding Trail which continues south. Follow the Outer Loop as it curves to the northwest.
At just about exactly a mile, you'll see a small spur trail to the north that will take you to the Inner Loop and back to the visitor center if you need to cut the outing short. Otherwise the Outer Loop heads southwest from here and then north along I-610. The expressway can be quite loud along this stretch, unfortunately. You'll pass the Arrowwood Trail at 1.5 miles shortly before the Outer Loop turns east away from the expressway. At about 1.6 miles, the Outer Loop hits the Arboretum's entrance road, so turn south onto the yellow Alice Brown Loop. Alice Brown Loop is singletrack but wide enough to push a stroller on (it just won't be nearly as easy going).
Alice Brown Loop will take you to the visitor center and a mess of small trails and family friendly amenities that are just south of the visitor center. Follow the boardwalks as you loop for the green Inner Loop trail to the south. The whole Inner Loop is either boardwalk or very wide singletrack made of wood chips so strollers can still be pushed. Follow the green-blazed trail to the south past the R.A. Vines Trail. At the southwest corner, you'll see the small connector to the Outer Loop that you passed back at mile one. Stay on the Inner Loop and turn east to the Muscadine Trail and South Meadow Trail. Just after the South Meadow Trail, you'll see a small spur that leads to the large pond in the meadow. This is a great short route to get some lovely views of the pound. Take the North Meadow Trail back to the Inner Loop, and head north back to the visitor center. There is water here and usually a bowl for dogs too.
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Land Manager: City of Houston - Parks and Recreation