“An easy and lovely route through an underrated park on wide, paved trails that highlight a forest, lakes, and a bayou.”
— Karl W
Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Wildlife
Keith-Weiss Park is a beautiful, nearly-500 acre natural park in the middle of Houston's north side. The paved trails are fairly new, wide, and wind nicely through the forests and wrap about the central pond. This means in a short "barbell"-shaped loop, you'll get a wide variety of nature and a surprising amount of seclusion. You'll hear some aircraft from IAH, but the park is well isolated from cars, unlike Memorial Park.
Need to Know
The main entrance and parking is off of Aldine Westfield Rd and doesn't seem to be where a smartphone's map result will direct you. Although motorized vehicles are not allowed, we did see two dirt bikers and evidence of ATVs. I'm not sure how often they frequent the park, but stay alert nonetheless.
There is a ton of parking available off of Aldine Wesfield Rd near the ~1/3 of the park that was converted for recreation (picnic areas, BBQ pits, sports fields, etc). The paved trails begin on the north side near the playground and on the northeast corner of the parking area. This description starts from the northeastern corner.
Follow the trail toward the tennis courts east of the parking area. The trail will wind north of the courts and enter the forest. This section of the trail will offer great shade year round, meaning it's almost bearable during a Houston summer. The well designed trail winds quite a bit through the forest, which keeps it looking more "natural" and creating space between you and other groups. At nearly 0.5 miles, you'll cross Hall's Bayou on a lovely bridge (this is the bayou that the park helps control flooding with downstream).
At about 2/3 of a mile, the trail exits the forest above a large retention pond that has been successfully sculpted to look like a natural feature. This section will be exposed to the sun, but is a little bit isolated from the city's heat-island effect. The trail descends close to the lake, which has a great pier on the southern edge. The southeastern corner of the lake turns into a stormwater-treatment wetland area. The trail follows the eastern bank of the lake to a neat boardwalk that crosses the northern end of the lake. This is a nice feature of the park. The trail then reconnects to the forest trail you were on nearly one mile ago.
Follow the forested trail back over Hall's Bayou. You can continue straight back to the parking area if you fancy. Or you can take the only intersection available in the forest to the north to add on a small trail segment that offers a touch more variety to the loop (as this featured run shows). This small addition will bend through the forest and exit a very short distance north of where you entered the forest. It passes by the well-built soccer fields and covered picnic area before returning to the parking area.
Flora & Fauna
Many birds live here, including egrets and herons, as well as animals native to ponds.
History & Background
The deed that gave the park's land to the City of Houston stipulated that the park should remain natural. After the flooding caused by Hurricane Alison in 2001, the city needed to develop flood controls. The result was to develop large retention ponds in Keith-Weiss that look as natural as possible. The result is a beautiful park with enhanced ecosystem services.