Section Memorial Park, by Woodway Drive, to Hogg Bird Sanctuary, Houston
Length and duration 3 miles, 1–3 hours
Resources Tours by Buffalo Bayou Partnership, buffalobayou.org
Reward yourself Order the spinach-artichoke turkey burger at Shandy’s Café, on Memorial Drive, in Houston.
Although Houston’s Buffalo Bayou, which passes right through the center of the city, isn’t strictly a river, it’s great fun to drift down. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership has worked hard to transform this once poisoned channel into a beautiful riparian corridor. Twenty-six miles, from Texas Highway 6 to just east of downtown, have been designated one of the state’s eighteen paddling trails. Volunteers have pulled out invasive species and planted native flora along the banks, creating a better habitat for wildlife. Passing through the thick piney woods of Memorial Park you’ll find yourself worlds away from the nearby crowded freeways and malls. Unusual for this part of Texas, there are oak and hickory trees, as well as the pine, elder, and willow you would expect. Coming up on May 1: the tenth annual Dragon Boat Festival, featuring the decorous forty-foot racing vessels.